Executive Bios

GARY GARFIELD

  • CEO & President, Chairman, Bridgestone Americas, Inc.
  • Executive Vice President and Executive Officer, Bridgestone Corporation
GARY GARFIELD

Gary Garfield is President and Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of Bridgestone Americas (BSAM) and Executive Vice President of Bridgestone Corporation. As CEO of BSAM, a subsidiary of the world’s largest tire and rubber company, Garfield oversees all BSAM operations across five continents. BSAM accounts for about 45 percent of the global revenue of Bridgestone operations worldwide, making it the company's largest subsidiary. With more than 55,000 teammates worldwide, BSAM manufactures and markets a wide range of tires for a variety of applications primarily under the Bridgestone and Firestone brands. Among other business units, BSAM also owns and operates the world’s largest automotive service and tire retailer, a world’s leading commercial roofing and building products company, and the worldwide leader in vehicle and equipment air spring technology. In March 2010, after serving as Vice President and General Counsel for three years, Garfield assumed the role of CEO and President of Bridgestone Americas, Inc. After being named Senior Vice President of Bridgestone Corporation in September 2014, Garfield was promoted to his current role, Executive Vice President in January 2016.

In 1991, Garfield joined then-Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc. in Nashville, Tenn. 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. In 2015, Garfield was also elected to the Board of Directors for Piedmont Natural Gas, and the Rubber Manufacturers Association elected him to serve as the organization’s Chairman of the Board of Directors.

Garfield received his Bachelor of Arts degree in both Philosophy and Political Science from Wittenberg University and his law degree from the University of Cincinnati.

GORDON KNAPP

  • Chief Operating Officer, Bridgestone Americas, Inc.
  • Chairman, Chief Executive Officer & President, Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations, LLC
  • Vice President and Senior Officer, Bridgestone Corporation
GORDON KNAPP

Gordon Knapp assumed his role as Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Bridgestone Americas, Inc. in March 2014. In addition, he also serves as Vice President and Senior Officer of Bridgestone Corporation and is a member of the Board of Bridgestone Americas, Inc.

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 internationally throughout his career. Outside of his work with Bridgestone, Knapp serves on the board of directors for the United Way of Metropolitan Nashville.

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 North America Consumer Brands at 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. He lives in Brentwood, Tenn., with his wife and their two sons.

Nick Zaitsu

  • Deputy Chairman of the Board, Bridgestone Americas, Inc.
  • Executive Vice President and Executive Officer, Bridgestone Corporation
Nick Zaitsu

Narumi “Nick” Zaitsu is the Deputy Chairman of the Board of Brigestone Americas, Inc. (BSAM) and Executive Vice President and Executive Officer of Bridgestone Corporation. As Deputy Chairman, Zaitsu serves as Bridgestone Americas’ voice to the Bridgestone Japan leadership team, and as Executive Vice President, will remain a key member of Bridgestone Japan senior management. In addition, Zaitsu has been a member of the Bridgestone Corporation Board of Directors since 2012.

Zaitsu joined Bridgestone Corporation in April 1973 as a member of Technical Service in the Tokyo Plant. With more than 40 years of experience in technology, manufacturing, operations and business strategy, Zaitsu offers a broad knowledge base to Bridgestone Americas. During his tenure with the company, he has held a variety of roles, most recently as Senior Vice President and Member of the Board. He also served as CEO of Bridgestone Asia Pacific and was Vice Chairman of the Bridgestone Americas Board of Directors from 2007 to 2009. Zaitsu has held his current positions at BSAM in Nashville, Tennessee, since 2016.

Zaitsu earned his bachelor’s degree in synthetic chemistry from Kumamoto University in Japan.

CHRISTINE KARBOWIAK

  • Chief Administrative Officer, Chief Risk Officer, and Executive Vice President, Bridgestone Americas, Inc.
  • Vice President and Senior Officer, Bridgestone Corporation
CHRISTINE KARBOWIAK

With nearly 25 years of service with Bridgestone Americas, Inc., Christine Karbowiak is an Executive Vice President and serves as the company’s Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) and Chief Risk Officer (CRO). In addition, she is a Vice President and Senior Officer of Bridgestone Corporation (BSJ), and also is a member of the boards of Bridgestone Americas, Inc., Bridgestone China Asia Pacific and Bridgestone Brands, LLC.

In her roles, Karbowiak oversees all of Bridgestone Americas’ risk and reputation management departments, including communications, environmental, corporate security, safety, industrial hygiene, and internal audit, as well as government relations. 

Additionally, she chairs the Bridgestone Americas Board Audit Committee and serves on that Board’s Governance and Risk Committee.  She also serves as Chair of the Bridgestone Americas Trust Fund.  She is also a member of the Bridgestone International Organizing Committee, the global executive team charged with over-seeing Bridgestone’s activation of its TOP partnership with the International Olympic Committee.

Karbowiak joined Bridgestone Americas in Chicago at the company’s Retail Operations as Senior Counsel in 1992 and advanced to the position of Assistant General Counsel one year later.  She proceeded to earn and occupy a number of expert legal roles and, in 1997, was named Division General Counsel for the company’s corporate and international operations based in Nashville, Tenn.  Less than two years later, she became the Bridgestone/Firestone divisional Vice President of Public Affairs and eventually Vice President of Public Affairs for Bridgestone Americas in 2001.  Four years later, Karbowiak expanded her responsibilities when she was elected Corporate Vice President for Public Affairs and again in 2009 when she was named Executive Vice President of Community & Corporate Relations and elected to the Board of Directors for Bridgestone Americas.  In 2010, she was named Chief Administrative Officer & Executive Vice President, Bridgestone Americas and was elected Vice President and Officer of Bridgestone Corporation a year later.  The following year she added responsibility as Chief Risk Officer, concurrent with her role as CAO.  It was in 2014 that she added to her current responsibilities the Board duties for Bridgestone China Asia Pacific and was elected Vice President and Senior Officer of Bridgestone Corporation. Then in 2015, Karbowiak also took on the role of Acting Chief Human Resources Officer, concurrent with her roles as CAO and CRO.

Before Bridgestone Americas, 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 earned both a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Illinois.

Karbowiak is active in community organizations and volunteer efforts and 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 Audit Committee; Japan America Society of Tennessee, Immediate Past Chair; Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, Vital Signs Task Force Chair; Franklin American Mortgage Company Music City Bowl Past Chair; Tennessee Performing Arts Center, Executive Committee member; and Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry, past Chair. She has been 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 Alumnus of the University of Illinois, College of Law. She was recognized as one of Nashville’s top “50 Sports Pioneers and Players” by Celebrate Sports in Nashville magazine and currently serves as the Local Organizing Committee Chair for the 2016 NHL All-Star Game. Karbowiak has been recognized with the Middle Tennessee Council, Boy Scouts of America Silver Beaver Award and was named a 2015 “Woman to Watch in the Tire Industry” by the Tire Industry Association.

BILL THOMPSON

  • Chief Financial Officer, Bridgestone Americas, Inc.
  • Member of the Board, Bridgestone Americas
  • Vice President and Officer, Bridgestone Corporation
BILL THOMPSON

Bill Thompson serves as Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and is a member of the board for Bridgestone Americas, Inc. (BSAM). In 2014, he was also named Vice President of Bridgestone Corporation. In this position, Thompson oversees all aspects of the finance, accounting and shared services functions of the organization. As CFO, Thompson provides full and accurate financial reporting for BSAM and is instrumental in directing cash flow and debt management.

Since joining the company as Senior Financial Analyst of the Southeast Zone in 1996, Thompson 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. 

Tom Fukuda

  • Executive Vice President, Business Strategy and Enterprise Support and Vice President, Diversified Businesses, Bridgestone Americas Inc.
  • Vice President and Officer, Bridgestone Corporation
Tom Fukuda

Tomohiro “Tom” Fukuda is the Executive Vice President, Business Strategy and Enterprise Support, and Vice President, Diversified Businesses, for Bridgestone Americas, Inc. (BSAM). In addition, he serves as Vice President and Officer of Bridgestone Corporation. In his roles, Fukuda assists the CEO and COO across a wide range of strategic and operational enterprise initiatives. His responsibilities include the direct oversight of the Diversified Businesses, such as Firestone Building Products and Firestone Industrial Products.

Fukuda joined Bridgestone Corporation in April 1986 as a member of the Middle East and Africa Operations Department. During his 30-year career, Fukuda has gained a wealth of experience in operations, products and innovation across several business segments and markets. Prior to his current role, Fukuda held a number of leadership positions within Bridgestone Corporation, most recently Vice President and Officer, Bridgestone Corporation, and COO, Global Mining and Agricultural Solutions. In addition, Fukuda was a member of the Bridgestone Americas Board of Directors from 2010 to 2012. Fukuda has held his current positions at BSAM in Nashville, Tennessee, since 2016.

Fukuda earned his bachelor’s degree in physics from Tokyo University of Science in Japan.

Gabriel Asbun

  • President, Bridgestone Latin America Tire Division, BATO LA, Bridgestone Americas, Inc.
  • Executive Vice President, Bridgestone Americas, Inc.
Gabriel Asbun

Gabriel Asbun is President of Bridgestone Latin America Tire Division (BATO LA) since 2013. In this position, Asbun oversees all tire operations in Latin America, including strategy and policy across Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Mexico, in addition to Central America and the Caribbean, as well as a shared management responsibility with Bridgestone Americas Manufacturing Group (BAMG) over eight manufacturing facilities. Asbun also serves as Executive Vice President, Bridgestone Americas, Inc.. He is based in Nashville, TN.

Before joining the company, Asbun worked for the Kellogg Company where he served for 12 years, most recently as President of the company’s Mexico Business Unit. Prior to his appointment as president in 2009, Asbun held a number of other key leadership positions with Kellogg, including Mercosur General Manager.

Prior to his tenure at Kellogg, Asbun worked from 1990 to 2000 for the strategy-consulting firm, Booz Allen & Hamilton. In his role, he assisted companies in developing business strategies and transformational initiatives throughout Latin America.

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’s 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.

Kurt Danielson

  • President, Bridgestone Commercial Group, U.S. & Canada, Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations
Kurt Danielson

Kurt Danielson has served as President, Bridgestone Commercial Group, since May 2014. As President, Danielson oversees all business operations within the commercial tire portfolio, which encompasses Truck & Bus (TBR) tires, the company’s Bandag retread business, Firestone Farm Agricultural tires, Off-the-Road (OTR) tires and the two commercial retail operations of Speedco and GCR. 

In 1994, Danielson joined then Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc. as Territory Manager in Cincinnati, Ohio, and then was promoted to Territory Consultant in Nashville, Tennessee. He has held numerous positions during his time at Bridgestone, including Sales Manager of Original Equipment and Truckstop; Director of Commercial Tire Marketing, North America; Executive Director, Truck and Bus Marketing, North America; and Vice President, Truck and Bus Marketing.

Danielson received his Bachelor of Business Administration in marketing from the University of Michigan. He is involved in community activities, such as volunteering for Hands on Nashville.

TJ Higgins

  • President, Consumer Integrated Tire Division, U.S. & Canada, Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations
TJ Higgins

TJ Higgins joined Bridgestone Americas in October 2014 to serve as President, Consumer Integrated Tire Division, U.S. and Canada. TJ leads a team which includes Bridgestone Retail Operations, original equipment sales and consumer tire replacement sales, as well as the company’s Credit First National Association (CFNA).

Before joining Bridgestone, TJ served as the North America regional president for Pfizer Consumer Healthcare where he was responsible for leading the operations of recognizable brands and products such as Advil, Centrum, ChapStick, Robitussin and Emergen-C. TJ also previously held leadership positions at Merck and Vlasic Foods.

TJ graduated summa cum laude from Lehigh University with a bachelor’s degree in accounting. He earned his MBA at Harvard University.

Steve Shelton

  • Senior Vice President, Technology, Manufacturing & Procurement, Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations, LLC
  • Member of the Board, Bridgestone Americas, Inc.
Steve Shelton

Steve Shelton serves as Senior Vice President, Technology, Manufacturing and Procurement for Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations (BATO). In this role Shelton leads the teams responsible for design, development, raw material procurement and manufacturing of tire products for Bridgestone’s Americas operation. Shelton’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 Bio-rubber 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.

 

Previously, 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. Shelton also served as Vice President, Logistics Supply Chain Management for BSAM, 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 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 earned a bachelor’s degree in physics and mathematics from Lynchburg College, and an MBA from Duke University.  

Jan Steinmetz

  • Chief Human Resources Officer, Bridgestone Americas, Inc.
Jan Steinmetz

Jan Steinmetz serves as Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) for Bridgestone Americas, Inc. (BSAM). In this role, Steinmetz is responsible for overseeing all HR priorities and initiatives covering Bridgestone America’s approximately 55,000 teammates throughout the U.S., Canada, Central and South America.

Steinmetz joined Bridgestone Americas in 2015 after a 32-year career with Royal Dutch Shell plc, where he most recently served as Vice President of Heavy Oil, Upstream Americas. Throughout his career at Shell, Steinmetz worked across a number of major business segments, including exploration and production (onshore and offshore), mining, refining and manufacturing, retail, lubricants and supply and distribution. He also served in a number of additional senior leadership roles, including Vice President, Human Resources, Downstream Commercial Portfolio and Supply and Distribution-North America; Vice President, Human Resources, Shell Lubricants-Americas; and Director of Human Resources, Shell Retail U.S. During his tenure at Shell, he led several major transformational projects, including the organizational design of Shell’s global HR function.

Steinmetz earned his bachelor’s degree and Master of Business Administration from the University of Iowa in Iowa City.