Harvey S. Firestone
Harvey Samuel Firestone was born on December 20, 1868, in Columbiana, Ohio. He attended local schools and briefly enrolled in the Spencerian Business College in Cleveland, Ohio, before becoming a bookkeeper for a coal company in Columbus, Ohio. By the early 1890s, Firestone had accepted a salesman position with the Columbus Buggy Company, but the firm closed its doors in 1895, leaving Firestone unemployed.
Upon losing his position, Firestone embarked on a dream of replacing steel-rim wheels on buggies with rubber tires. He believed that rubber tires would provide a more comfortable ride. Firestone determined to sell the rubber tires and purchased a factory in Chicago, Illinois. With only one worker, Firestone began the Firestone-Victor Rubber Company. He quickly changed the firm's name to the Firestone Rubber Tire Company. The rubber tires became an immediate success, and Firestone sold his company after only being in business for four years for forty-five thousand dollars.
In 1900, Firestone moved to Akron, Ohio, where he established the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company. Firestone relied on other companies to manufacture the rubber. His firm simply fastened the rubber to steel carriage wheels. In its first year of operation, the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company grossed more than 100,000 dollars in profit. In 1903, the company began to manufacture rubber, and in 1904, the firm proceeded to develop pneumatic tires for automobiles. In 1905, Henry Ford placed his first order for tires from Firestone. Firestone immediately hired additional workers, raising the number of employees from one dozen to 130. The following year, the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company produced more than twenty-eight thousand tires and sold more than one million dollars worth of tires. By 1910, the company manufactured more than one million tires.
Harvey Firestone remained as president of the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company until 1932, when he retired from the firm's active management, becoming the chairman of the board of directors instead. Firestone died in 1938, having helped make Akron the rubber capital of the world.
- Lief, Alfred. The Firestone Story: A History of the Firestone Tire & Rubber Company. N.p.: Whittlesey House, 1951.
- Lief, Alfred. Harvey Firestone: Free Man of Enterprise. N.p.: McGraw-Hill, 1951.
- Cashman, Sean. America in the Gilded Age. N.p.: NYU Press, 1993.
- Chandler, Alfred D., Jr. The Visible Hand: The Managerial Revolution in American Business. N.p.: Belknap Press, 1993.
- Dyer, Joyce. Gum-Dipped: A Daughter Remembers Rubber Town. Akron, OH: University of Akron Press, 2003.
- Murdock, Eugene. Buckeye Empire: An Illustrated History of Ohio Enterprise. N.p.: Windsol, 1988.
- Painter, Nell Irwin. Standing at Armageddon: A Grassroots History of the Progressive Era. N.p.: W.W. Norton, 2008.
- Porter, Glenn. The Rise of Big Business, 1860-1920. N.p.: Harlan Davidson, 2006.