Yoshiyuki (“Yoshi”) Morimoto is the Executive Chairman of Bridgestone Americas, Inc., a role he assumed in March 2015. Additionally, he has served as Senior Vice President of Bridgestone Corporation since January 2013. In his role as Executive Chairman, Morimoto provides leadership to the board, ensuring its effectiveness and setting its agenda. With the objective of helping to ensure the long-term sustainability of the business, he plays a critical role in maintaining company relationships with the parent company, shareholders, financial institutions and customers.
With more than 30 years’ experience at Bridgestone, Morimoto has been involved in almost every aspect of tire research and development. Morimoto joined Bridgestone in 1981, first working in passenger tire development. He has held a variety of roles throughout his tenure with the company, including General Manager of Tire Compounds Development; Vice President and Officer of Tire Research and Material Development; and Senior Vice President of Product Development. In March 2012, Morimoto was appointed a Member of the Board of Bridgestone Corporation. In January 2013, he became Chief Technology Officer of Bridgestone Corporation, leading the group’s technology division.
Morimoto earned a bachelor’s degree in polymer chemistry and a master’s degree in electronic chemistry from Tokyo Institute of Technology.
Gary Garfield is President and Chief Executive Officer of Bridgestone Americas and Senior Vice President of Bridgestone Corporation, the largest tire and rubber company in the world. Bridgestone Americas accounts for about 45 percent of the global revenue of Bridgestone worldwide, making it the company's largest subsidiary. Bridgestone Americas employs more than 55,000 teammates worldwide and has operations on five continents. Through its subsidiaries, Bridgestone Americas manufactures and markets a wide range of tires for a variety of applications primarily under the Bridgestone and Firestone brands. Additionally, among other business units, Bridgestone Americas also owns and operates the world’s largest automotive service and tire retailer, a world leading commercial roofing and building products company, and the worldwide leader in vehicle and equipment air spring technology.
On March 1, 2010, after serving as Vice President and General Counsel for three years, Gary Garfield assumed the role of CEO and President of Bridgestone Americas, Inc. After his March 2011 election as Vice President and Senior Officer of Bridgestone Corporation, Garfield was promoted to his current role, Senior Vice President of Bridgestone Corporation, on September 1, 2014.
In 1991, Garfield joined then-Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc. in Nashville, Tennessee, serving as Senior Counsel. In 1995, he was promoted to the position of General Counsel for Bridgestone Firestone Tire Sales Company. In 2002, Garfield was named Vice President and General Counsel of Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire, LLC. In 2007, Garfield accepted the positions of Vice President, General Counsel, Chief Compliance Officer and Secretary of Bridgestone Americas, Inc., positions in which he had served in an “acting” capacity since 2006.
In addition to his work at Bridgestone, Garfield serves as a member of the board of directors of several charitable and industry organizations, including the Tennessee Chapter of the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation, the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, the United Way of Middle Tennessee, Meharry Medical College, and the Rubber Manufacturer’s Association. Garfield also serves on the Steering Committee of Nashville’s Agenda. In January 2011, he joined the United Way of Metropolitan Nashville’s Board of Trustees. He joined the Board of Visitors – Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Business in 2011, and in 2012 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.
Garfield received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from Wittenberg University and his Juris Doctor from the University of Cincinnati.
Gordon Knapp assumed his role as Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Bridgestone Americas, Inc. in March 2014. As COO, he is responsible for ensuring the execution of day-to-day tasks necessary to achieve the company’s vision of undisputed leadership. As such, Knapp plays a key role in helping to oversee human resource alignments, operations strategy and policies, and works to foster employee alignment with corporate goals.
Under Knapp’s leadership, Bridgestone Americas, Inc. has strengthened its focus on delivering value to consumers through innovation and achieving operational excellence. Knapp brings invaluable experience, including a strong global mindset built by living and working in four different countries throughout his career.
Knapp joined the company in 2013 as President, Consumer Tire, Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations North America. He previously served as President of the Kimberly-Clark Corporation, Family Care North Atlantic, Consumer Tissue Division, as well as President and Vice President of Pfizer, Inc., where he gained experience in leading operations for iconic brands such as Kleenex, Viva, Listerine and Schick.
Knapp received his bachelor’s degree in business administration from Trent University, and his MBA from the University of Western Ontario.
With more than 20 years of service with Bridgestone Americas, Christine Karbowiak serves as the company’s Chief Administrative Officer, Chief Risk Officer and Chief Human Resources Officer, positions she has held since April 2010, July 2011 and March 2015, respectively. She previously served as Vice President of Public Affairs, and immediately prior to her current position, as Executive Vice President of Community and Corporate Relations. As of March 29, 2011, Karbowiak was elected Vice President and Officer of Bridgestone Corporation (BSJ).
In her role as Chief Administrative Officer, Karbowiak oversees all of Bridgestone Americas’ risk and reputation management departments, including communications, environmental, corporate security, safety and industrial hygiene, and internal audit. Her responsibilities include oversight of the company’s government relations function and she also serves as Chair of the company’s philanthropic arm, The Bridgestone Americas Trust Fund. Effective Jan. 1, 2009, Karbowiak was appointed to the Bridgestone Americas Board of Directors, the first woman to serve on the board of a major Bridgestone Group company.
Prior to becoming a Vice President in 1998, Karbowiak worked her way up through the legal ranks of BSAM. She joined the company’s Retail Operations as Senior Counsel in June 1992 and advanced to the position of Assistant General Counsel one year later. Early in 1997, Karbowiak accepted the role of General Counsel for the company’s corporate and international operations, a position she held for 21 months before assuming her role as Vice President of Public Affairs. In 2009, she was named Executive Vice President of Community & Corporate Relations. Karbowiak also serves on the board of Bridgestone Brands, LLC.
Before joining the BSA family, Karbowiak was an Associate at the law firm of Quinn, Jacobs & Barry and served as an attorney with G.D. Searle and Company (later, The NutraSweet Company). She holds both a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Illinois.
Karbowiak has been involved in a variety of community organizations and volunteer efforts. She currently serves on a number of boards and advisory committees, including: the Jennings Jones College of Business, Middle Tennessee State University (advisory board); Tennessee State Museum; Japan America Society of Tennessee, Chair; Tennessee Business Roundtable, Executive Committee member; Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, Executive Committee member; Franklin American Mortgage Company Music City Bowl, Chair and Executive Committee Member; Tennessee Performing Arts Center; Invent Now, Inc., and Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry, past Chair. She has been recognized for her volunteer and community activities, including being named Volunteer of the Year by the Nashville Chapter of the YMCA and the Nashville Sports Council, a Nashville Business Journal Woman of Influence, a YWCA Academy of Women of Achievement honoree, and has been named a Distinguished Alumna of the University of Illinois, College of Law. She has also been recognized as one of Nashville’s top “50 Sports Pioneers and Players” by Celebrate Sports in Nashville magazine.
Michihiro “Mick” Suzuki is the Executive Vice President of Business Strategy and Enterprise Support and Vice President of Diversified Businesses with Bridgestone Americas, Inc. (BSAM). In this role Suzuki assists the CEO and COO across a wide range of strategic and operational enterprise initiatives. His responsibilities include direct oversight for Diversified Businesses such as Firestone Building Products and Firestone Industrial Products.
Suzuki joined Bridgestone Corporation in April 1983 as a member of the International Administration Department. In his 30+ years with the company, Suzuki has held numerous positions across the globe, including managerial positions in operations and treasury.
In 2007, Suzuki was transferred to Bridgestone Europe NV/SA, as Director of Sales Administration. After two years of service in Brussels, Suzuki transferred to Bridgestone Americas, Inc. as Director of Business Planning, where he served from 2009 to June of 2011. He later returned to Bridgestone Corporation in Tokyo as Director of International Tire Administration. Suzuki has held his current positions at Bridgestone Americas, Inc. in Nashville, Tenn. since 2013.
Suzuki earned his bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Waseda University, Tokyo, Japan.
Bill Thompson serves as Chief Financial Officer for Bridgestone Americas, Inc. (BSAM). In his position, Thompson is responsible for overseeing all aspects of the finance, accounting and shared services functions of the organization, including:
Thompson has extensive experience working for (BSAM). He joined the company as Senior Financial Analyst of the Southeast Zone in 1996. Since then, he has held numerous financial positions for retail, manufacturing, sales and corporate groups. In 2011, Thompson served as West Zone Manager for US Commercial Tire Sales, where he later took on the role as Controller of BSAM in 2012. Most recently he served as Vice President of Finance for BSAM.
Thompson is a native of Huntington, N.Y. He received a bachelor’s degree in economics at State University of New York Stony Brook, and a master’s degree in finance from Georgia State University. He currently lives in Brentwood, Tenn., with his wife and three sons.
Steve Shelton serves as Sr. Vice President, Technology, Manufacturing and Procurement for Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations (BATO). In this role Steve leads the teams responsible for the design, development, raw material procurement and manufacturing of tire products for Bridgestone’s Americas operation. Steve’s responsibilities also include oversight of the company’s fibers and textiles business, natural rubber farm in Liberia, West Africa, Bridgestone Americas Center for Research & Technology and the Guayule Rubber Projects which include the Bridgestone Biorubber Process Research Center and Bridgestone Agro Operations. Shelton serves as a member of the Board of Directors for BATO, is an officer for both Bridgestone Americas, Inc. (BSAM) and BATO, and is a member of the Executive Committee of BSAM.
Previous to his current position, Shelton served as Vice President, Product Development, BATO, where he was responsible for all BATO tire development groups, as well as the Advanced Technology Workshop – the division responsible for race tire manufacturing and the Akron-based Product Development facilities. Prior to that, he served as Vice President, Logistics Supply Chain Management for Bridgestone Americas, Inc., and was responsible for strategic supply planning, global sourcing, operational procurement for both domestic and import finished goods, freight contracts, and logistics for finished goods.
In 1993, Shelton joined then-Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc. as a Senior Project Engineer, Uniformity. Quickly taking on roles of increasing responsibility, Shelton served as Uniformity Manager; Technical Services Manager; Technical Services/Quality Assurance Manager; Division Manager Tire Room & Uniformity; Division Manager Curing & Uniformity; Manager, Process Engineering Development (PED); Director, PED Tire Development and Uniformity; and Director, Product/Process Strategic Marketing Consumer Tire Replacement. In 2008, Shelton was promoted to the position of Vice President, Supply Planning and Sourcing, and in May 2008, commercial truck tire Production Distribution Inventory Control (PDIC) was added to his existing assignment. Shelton was promoted to Vice President Logistics Supply Chain Management in 2009.
Shelton began his career in 1984 when he joined Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company as a Tire Engineer. He served in various capacities at Goodyear until joining Bridgestone Americas.
Shelton earned a bachelor’s degree in physics and mathematics from Lynchburg College, and an MBA from Duke University.
Gabriel Asbun joined the Bridgestone Group in November 2012. Based in Nashville, Tennessee, he is President of the Bridgestone Latin America Tire Division, which is part of Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations. Asbun is accountable for all Tire Operations in Latin America with full P&L responsibility, strategic direction and policy setting in the region. With around 10,000 employees, BATO LA, through seven manufacturing and sales subsidiaries, operates six tire production plants — two in Brazil, and one each in Argentina, Costa Rica, Mexico and Venezuela — along with proving grounds in Acuña, Mexico, and São Pedro, Brazil. In addition, through Bandag do Brazil Ltda. and Bandag de Mexico, S.A. de C.V., the companies manufacture and market pre-cure retread for truck and bus tires.
Before joining the company, Asbun worked for the Kellogg Company where he served for twelve years, most recently as President of the company’s Mexico Business Unit. Prior to his appointment to that position in 2009, Asbun held a number of other key leadership positions with Kellogg, including General Manager – Mercosur based in Brazil and overseeing that country as well as Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and Paraguay; Director, New Product Development - Mexico; and Global Strategy Development Director for Latin America.
Prior to his tenure at Kellogg, Asbun worked for the well-respected strategy-consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton for almost a decade assisting companies in developing business strategies and transformational initiatives throughout Latin America. Previously, he also worked in the telecommunications industry.
Asbun earned a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical-Electrical Engineering with a concentration in Industrial Engineering from the Universidad Panamericana in Mexico City where he graduated with Honors, and a Master of Business Administration from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Asbun is tri-lingual in Spanish, English and Portuguese with a basic knowledge of French.