Jul 18, 2011 Nashville, TN

Bridgestone Americas Announces Promotions

Jim Pridgen named President, Firestone Fibers & Textiles Company; Gary Williamson named new Wilson, N.C., Plant Manager

Bridgestone Americas announced today two important promotions that are effective immediately. Jim Pridgen, a long-time North Carolinian and Plant Manager of the Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations (BATO) Wilson, N.C., facility, has been named President, Firestone Fibers & Textiles Company, LLC (FSFT). He will be based at FSFT’s headquarters in Kings Mountain, N.C. Gary Williamson, formerly Operations Manager at the BATO Aiken County, S.C., facility, has been promoted and named the new Plant Manager at the Wilson facility. Williamson’s successor in the Operations Manager role will be announced at a later date.

“Jim has been an inspirational leader of the Wilson team and community as well as a long-time member of the Bridgestone Americas family,” said Barry Owens, Vice President, Manufacturing, BATO. “With more than 35 years of experience, Jim is bringing his commitment and results-oriented approach to his new role as President of Firestone Fibers & Textiles, and we wish him the best. We’re also looking forward to welcoming Gary to the Wilson team.”

Terry Reedy, Vice President, Procurement, Bridgestone Americas, FSFT’s parent company, said, “We’re pleased that Jim, whose North Carolina roots go very deep, has taken on this new challenge and will continue his work with the state’s elected officials and government agencies. We look forward to having him support Gary as he establishes his relationships within the Wilson community.”

Williamson’s 31 years of experience in a variety of tire manufacturing operations – the last five in Aiken County – ideally position him to take on his new role as Plant Manager of the Wilson facility.

“While we know Gary will be missed in Aiken County, we look forward to welcoming him to the Wilson team,” Owens said. “He brings a unique blend of both technical and leadership abilities that will be instrumental in addressing the complex challenges associated with the Wilson operation and recent capital investments.”

Pridgen brings a wide range of experience to his new position. After joining the team at the Wilson plant in 1974 as a Junior Accountant, he held positions of increasing responsibility, including Cost Accountant; Auditor; Purchasing Manager; Materials Manager; Section Manager; and Stock Prep and Area Production Manager. In 2000 Pridgen was promoted to Plant Manager, Oklahoma City, Okla., and in 2004 assumed his most recent role as Plant Manager, Wilson, N.C. He holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Atlantic Christian College and a Master of Business Administration in business management from Central Michigan University. Pridgen has been very active in the Wilson business community as well, serving in the following roles: Vice Chair of the Wilson Memorial Hospital Board; Vice Chair of the Wilson Community College Board of Trustees (he was appointed by Gov. Bev Perdue); Chair of the Upper Coastal Plain Learning Council; Board Member of the Boy Scouts of America; Trustee and Audit Chair of Barton College; and Member of the North Carolina State Chamber of Commerce; among other community activities.

Williamson joined The Firestone Tire & Rubber Company in 1980 at its Oklahoma City, Okla., plant, and since that time has held a variety of manufacturing positions, including Buyer; Senior Buyer; Physical Distribution Manager; Area Business Manager; Calendar and Receiving Section Manager; Project Manager; Final Inspection Section Manager; and Production Section Manager. In 2006, he transferred to the Aiken County plant as Group Leader and in 2009 assumed his most recent role as Operations Manager at that facility. Williamson holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from the University of Oklahoma. Williamson is active in the Aiken County, S.C., community serving on the Board of Directors for the Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce and as a member of the Aiken Career and Technology Education Board. He is also active in his support of the United Way, the Golden Harvest Regional Food Bank and the American Cancer Society-Relay for Life committees in the Aiken County area.