Former CEO of Bridgestone Americas, Leadership and
When Gary Garfield, who recently retired CEO of Bridgestone Americas (the Nashville, Tennessee-based U.S. subsidiary of Bridgestone Corporation, the world’s largest tire and rubber company), first took the reins in March 2010, the company had grown stagnant. Its North American tire business had been losing money and draining cash for years.
Through his innovative approach to changing the culture of the organization, however, Garfield changed the focus of the organization, drove collaboration and broke down silos. The result: the company pulled out of its marketplace rut. Garfield led the charge in creating a better workplace environment by creating accountability, driving sound management practices and welcoming team input. He transformed Bridgestone’s focus from a manufacturing entity to a marketing leader.
Culture of Sustainability
At the same time, the company operated as a true partner in the community with his strong stance on both corporate and environmental responsibility. After hearing his keynote, audiences will gain fresh, proven, cutting-edge strategies for how to reestablish their own corporate culture in the millennium, why it is so important to embrace disruptive ideas, and how to spark major innovation and growth in any type of organization.
Garfield initially joined Bridgestone Americas in the legal department in 1991, eventually rising to the position of Vice President, General Counsel, Chief Compliance Officer and Secretary of Bridgestone Americas. In March 2010, he was promoted to Bridgestone Americas’ CEO and President, and in January 2016 he was named as Executive Chairman of Bridgestone Americas. Over the last years, he also was promoted to a series of executive positions within Bridgestone Corporation, ultimately culminating in the position of Executive Officer and Executive Vice President of Bridgestone Americas’ parent company, Bridgestone Corporation.
He has been Director of Nashville Area Chamber Of Commerce since July 03, 2014 and served as an Independent Director of Piedmont Natural Gas Co. Inc. since June 2015. He serves as a Director of Firestone Diversified Products, LLC, the Tennessee Chapter of the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation, the Nashville Ballet and the Middle Tennessee Council, Boy Scouts of America. He is also a member of the American Bar Association and the Nashville Bar Association. He has been the United Way of Metropolitan Nashville’s Board of Trustees since January 2011. Since 2011, he has also served on the Board of Visitors for Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Business.
In 2012, Mr. Garfield was named National Chair for the Take Steps Be Heard walk program for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America. He was a 2013 member of the Greater Nashville Executive Leadership Team for the American Heart Association and is serving as the 2015 Heart Walk Chairman.
Mr. Garfield holds a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from Wittenberg University and his Juris Doctor from Cincinnati University.
What is the first thing the new CEO must do when its globally recognized brand has grown stagnant and the company is performing poorly? The first thing was set high expectations, made profitability the focus of the entire organization, and created line of sight on business performance. Garfield brought innovative means to answering the age-old questions of how does a company break down silos, better handle conflict within the organization, and break out of its rut. By answering these questions in a new and fresh way, Garfield took Bridgestone Americas and its 55,000 employees to a 13% increase in revenue and increased profitability by 500% in six years. Garfield led the charge of how to create a better environment for people to work in and how leadership listened to its team members. After hearing this keynote, audiences will have new ideas about how to improve their culture, why it is important to look at how your employees view their jobs, and how to spark innovation in your company.
Leaders Make The Necessary Changes
Turning around a company that has had years of low profits, poor cash flow, and stagnant growth to five years of record breaking profits does not happen by accident. Gary Garfield achieved just this at Bridgestone Americas. Profits grew 500% during his six plus years as the CEO. In this keynote, Garfield will talk about his journey of leading an iconic brand through explosive growth and profit by changing the focus of the organization, breaking down silos, and changing a tire manufacturer into a marketing company. With a thoughtful approach, audiences will be able to glean takeaways for whatever change their business may be facing.
A Company as a Community Partner
The marriage of a tire company CEO and green initiatives seems unlikely, however that is what Gary Garfield former CEO of Bridgestone Americas brought together under his leadership. While serving as CEO, Gary oversaw the reduction of CO2 admission in Bridgestone plants as well as becoming the first tire company to 100% of its waste in three of its plants. In this personal and forward thinking talk, Gary will show leaders how corporate social responsibility does not have to hurt the bottom line. This is evidence by Bridgestone Americas turning a record profit each year Garfield was the CEO. A company is part of a community therefore, it must be part of a better tomorrow.
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Let me just say when you speak, people are captivated by the manner in which you own and relate your own struggles in a way I have not seen before. The genuineness and care with which you communicate is truly inspirational particularly to students (many of whom have merely dreamt about being in that setting of senior leadership) I think your willingness to bare your profound struggles and the kind of work demanded of/on oneself transcends disciplines, culture and age....(needless to say it is powerful)!
- | Fisk University
"Gary spends time upfront understanding the current business situation so he can customize his message to the audience. He is a thoughtful and humble speaker. He captivates participants by sharing the strategies that were implemented and obstacles that were overcome to deliver record breaking profits as the CEO of Bridgestone. During his presentation, he adapts quickly and handles questions brilliantly. At Barge, we are still talking about some of the insights he shared with our Executive Team."
- | Barge
Gary Garfield recently spoke to our students at Fisk University and the response was overwhelming. His authenticity, tone and insight made them not only listen but hear. Unlike most other major executives, Mr. Garfield was able to draw them into his own struggles and take them on a journey of decision-making, strategy and ultimately success. This journey left students wanting more and eager to begin writing their own stories of decision-making, strategy and success. Vice President of Institutional Advancement We organize 34 events throughout the United States and have worked with hundreds of keynote speakers over the years. Gary Garfield is truly impressive; instead of reiterating sound bites and clichés about leadership, he speaks from a vast breadth of experience that is nearly unparalleled. As the former CEO of a Fortune 500 company, Gary understands that effective communication is crucial, and his speaking style reflects the practical application of it.
- | Executive Functions Management