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Bridgestone/Firestone CEO John Lampe Announces New Action PlanAired October 10, 2000 - 2:07 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to take you live to Nashville. The latest chapter in the story of a company struggling to save itself, Bridgestone/Firestone has just announced a corporate reshuffling. This is the new chief executive, John Lampe. We'll listen in for a moment.
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JOHN LAMPE, CEO, BRIDGESTONE/FIRESTONE: I've talked to a great number of our employees and I've talked to our dealers, some of our O/E accounts. Their sense of loyalty has been amazing and just very gratifying to us.
But the question has come up: What's going to happen to the company? Is the company going to be all right? What's going to happen with Bridgestone/Firestone? And I'm going to tell you what I told them, that, yes, this is a setback, but we will come back and we'll be stronger than we were ever before.
But at the same time, we need to be realistic about the challenges that lie ahead. We know that many people, not just in the United States, but around the world, are questioning our integrity and the safety of our tires. And we know that we can't blame anyone else for the loss of faith in Firestone products: can't blame our customers nor our business partners, we can't blame the media, we can't blame Congress. There have been accidents and rollovers with Ford Explorers, some of which were equipped with Firestone tires. We can debate over the cause and the responsibility about who knew what, when, but that doesn't change the fact that these accidents have happened. And we at Bridgestone/Firestone will never forget that.
I want my first act as the new CEO of Bridgestone/Firestone to be an apology for those who suffered personal losses or have had problems with our products. The burden is clearly upon us to earn your trust all over again. But it's going to take more than words. It will only be through our actions that people will once again think well of our company.
Today, I'd like to announce an immediate action plan for the future that includes three primary initiatives. First and foremost, completing the recall is our No. 1 one priority. We've greatly accelerated tire production, we've airlifted tires in from our sister plants overseas. In addition, we've made it possible for consumers to obtain tire replacement tires from our competitors. And as of yesterday, we estimate that more than 3.7 million tires have been replaced. And I'm extremely confident that we can complete this recall during the month of November.
But we won't rest until we have determined the root cause or causes of the problem. And it will be irresponsible of us and others not to look at every aspect of what might be causing the problem, including the vehicle. We will continue to work with outside government agencies and outside experts to ensure that a situation like this never happens again.
No. 2 in my initiatives: I'm assembling a new management team. And as Mr. Case (ph) said, Mr. Isao Togashi will be president of manufacturing and development at BFS reporting to me. He will also be vice chairman of our board of directors. In his new role, Mr. Togashi, working with teams of dedicated employees both from the United States and Japan, will conduct a thorough review of three areas within our business: manufacturing and process controls, research and development, and our quality assurance procedures. In addition, within the next several weeks I will be announcing other key changes within Bridgestone/Firestone's management.
Our third initiative will be to focus on innovation. And by innovation, I mean a fresh approach to how we do business. One important area is data. It's very clear that we need to think differently about how we collect and how we analyze information. We strongly support the goals of the legislation pending before Congress designed to address the issue of ensuring the collection of better and more complete information that will be meaningful to consumers, to manufacturers, and to the regulators.
And I also believe that both the tire manufacturer and vehicle manufacturer must learn more about each other's business, each other's products in order to produce the safest, most reliable total product possible.
ALLEN: John Lampe is the new CEO of Bridgestone/Firestone, replacing Chief Executive Masatoshi Ono, who reportedly stepped down because of health reasons. The company insists its changing of the guard isn't related to the company's recall of 6 1/2 million potentially faulty Firestone tires.
He first apologized about the tire problems, and then he listed three priorities: The company completing the recall of these tires, that's No. 1; a new management team, that's No. 2; and innovation, that's No. 3.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating whether these tires are responsible for more than 100 deaths and more than 400 injuries. But today, Bridgestone/Firestone has new leadership and new priorities.
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