This year, one of the most recognizable brands in America turned 125. Goodyear, the manufacturer of tires for everything from cars to planes to lunar rovers, celebrated its anniversary in style, including by flying the famous blimps over its hometown of Akron, Ohio.
The company’s deep ties to Akron have been apparent throughout its more than a century in business. We spoke to Senior Vice President and Chief Communications Officer Laura Duda recently about that history and what other manufacturers can learn from it.
The beginning: Goodyear was founded in 1898, when F.A. “Frank” Seiberling purchased two empty factories in Akron’s then-small downtown, Duda told us.
- The company brought thousands of jobs to the neighborhood known as Middlebury and is still operating there more than a century later, having built its new headquarters on Innovation Way in 2014, just blocks away from its previous headquarters.
- The company also built its largest innovation center in Akron around the same time, as well as one of its three airship bases. Its Akron facilities also include a plant that produces racing tires, a test track that helps the company develop and bring innovative products to market and much more—all in the place it first called home.
Growing together: In addition to creating and keeping jobs in Akron, Goodyear prides itself on its contributions to the expansion of the city throughout the company’s history, Duda said.
- Seiberling himself developed a neighborhood called Goodyear Heights, which offered affordable housing to the company’s workers and remains a beloved historic district today.
- Meanwhile, the city’s first municipal bus system was constructed to bring the company’s workers downtown to the factory, and Goodyear’s early leaders created the surrounding county’s public parks.
- “It’s not possible to separate the history of Akron from the history of Goodyear,” Duda concluded.
For more on Goodyear’s history, innovations and future plans, check out the company’s engrossing documentary made for the anniversary: 125 Years in Motion.
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