Bridgestone India is on a mission to become the top tyre company in the country. As a subsidiary of Japan’s Bridgestone Corporation – the world’s leading tyre and rubber company – it is already making great strides towards its goal. The company’s Managing Director Parag Satpute believes Bridgestone Corporation’s long-held success comes from the vision that founder Shojiro Ishibashi initially had, something that is enshrined in what the company calls ‘The Bridgestone Essence’.
“The business should not exist merely to make profit, but to also serve the society.”
“Shojiro believed that the business should not exist merely to make a profit, but to also contribute to the surroundings,” Parag tells The CEO Magazine. “And this belief is the core foundation of our global mission: serving society with superior quality’. This kind of approach means that we try to better the society around us and produce the best quality products and services. Even after so many years since it was founded, this mission still guides all Bridgestone operations across the world and therefore, sets us apart. The mission also provides the foundation for our goal of becoming dan-totsu, which means ‘clear and absolute leader’ in the industry,” Parag explains.
This year, India has surpassed Germany to become the fourth largest automotive market in the world, which presents a massive opportunity for Bridgestone India. “India’s economy is on the path of clear growth,” he says. “The past couple of years have seen growth speed up and we believe it will continue. The automotive industry is set to be a big focus and might even grow faster than the economy.”
To achieve its mission of becoming the country’s leading tyre manufacturer, Bridgestone India will increase its production capacity. In 2017, it announced plans to invest US$304.3 million over five years to expand its two manufacturing plants in Pune and Indore. This will increase both plants’ production capacity by around 15,000 tyres a day, taking production up to 41,000 tyres by 2022.
Moreover, the plants will be fitted with advanced manufacturing technology, an area Parag says the company has heavily invested in. “We’re trying to guide the industry towards more advanced tyres, such as radial and tubeless in the truck and bus segment, which offer a significant advantage in fuel efficiency and safety.”
One of its innovative products is the ECOPIA Series consisting of Ecopia EP150 tyre for passenger cars and Ecopia 850 for SUV/CUV segments. The tyres were designed to adapt to the changing consciousness around fuel efficiency and environmental sustainability. They provide uniform ground contact when braking, which provides extra protection in wet conditions and low rolling resistance. This reduces production of carbon dioxide and overall emission.
Bridgestone India also introduced Firestone tyres to the Indian market to serve them with more choices. Firestone is a well-known US brand that merged with Bridgestone Corporation in 1988 and produces a wide range of commercial and passenger vehicle tyres.
In 2017, professional badminton player and Olympic silver medallist Pusarla Venkata (P.V.) Sindhu became Bridgestone India’s first brand ambassador. As part of her role P.V. will be included in the company’s worldwide partnership with the Olympics.
The road to Bridgestone
Prior to Bridgestone, Parag worked in the mining, construction and engineering sectors. These took him to countries all over the world including Germany and Sweden. “I started out in sales but I’ve also headed up production, been responsible for global strategy at Sandvik and run a number of transformation projects,” he says. “This cross-function experience helped me gain an overview of the business here,” Parag shares.
Parag accepted his current position in 2017 and says he was drawn in by India’s automotive sector’s potential. “The automotive industry is very dynamic,” he notes. “A lot of new innovations in the industrial and business world usually originate in the automotive industry. Bridgestone not only has a strong market presence in India, but is truly a global company in every sense that has made substantial contributions to the Indian automotive sector.”
“A lot of new innovations in the industrial and business world usually originate in the automotive industry.”
Looking at the potential of India’s automotive sector, Parag came in ready to take the company to new heights. “This year, Bridgestone is celebrating 20 years in India. These past two decades have been a testimony to our dedication to bringing superior quality products and services to customers. We have also developed a strong dealer network, which has been a major source of support in our journey to success. Going ahead, I am looking forward to putting in the work to make things even better.”