A little over half of the employees at Williamsburg Firestone Industrial Products Plant will be returning to work on Sunday after a temporary two-week shutdown.
The entire Williamsburg facility shut down on March 29, which was about one week after most of the companies plants in North America and Latin America temporarily shut down to align supply with predicted demand.
The shutdown was scheduled to conclude on Sunday, April 12.
The Williamsburg plant employees about 550 employees.
Emily Weaver, Bridgestone Americas Inc. Director of Communication, said the Williamsburg facility will still resume operations on April 12, but it will not be a full start-up.
“We will bring back only the employees needed for the areas that will start up, which is approximately 300,” Weaver said in an e-mail Thursday.
Weaver said the company is monitoring demand and will continue to phase in more employees returning to work.
The Williamsburg plant is the only remaining air-spring manufacturing plant in the United States, and as of 2018 produced 4.9 million plus air-springs.
Bridgestone Americas (Bridgestone) announced plans Wednesday to restart its North American commercial tire plants as well as its North American Firestone Industrial Products and Firestone Building Products manufacturing facilities on April 13.
The company’s start-up plans reflect the performance trend in several key areas of its commercial and diversified products businesses not as severely affected by the current crisis.
Bridgestone Bandag’s retread rubber manufacturing plants in North America resumed operations the week of March 29, due to demand by essential service providers. The company continues to work closely with its customers and partners to ensure adequate supply, while closely monitoring volatility in demand.
The well-being and safety of employees remains the most important priority for the company, it said in a news release.
To ensure the health and safety of employees, plants resuming operations will do so in alignment with the latest safety protocol guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“The start-up of our North American commercial tire and diversified products operations will allow us to meet the increasing needs of businesses who are going above and beyond to provide essential services in our communities,” said Paolo Ferrari, CEO & president, Bridgestone Americas. “We are mindful of the need for Bridgestone to do its part in providing critical products and services to businesses and agencies doing so much to keep essential workers and goods moving.”
Bridgestone’s passenger tire plants in North America, as well as all plants in Latin America are scheduled to resume operations by the first week of May, with some facilities potentially opening sooner.
The company has sufficient supply of original equipment and consumer replacement product to meet customer demand, but continues to align supply to current market demand. The company’s distribution centers, plant warehouses and logistics teams are continuing to fill orders.
The company is monitoring the coronavirus situation closely and adjusting response plans and operations as necessary to ensure the health and safety of its employees while also addressing the needs of customers and the market.