Bridgestone to acquire Azuga, breaks ground on expansion

Updated Aug 9, 2021
Bridgestone groundbreaking event
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear spoke at the groundbreaking for a $51 million expansion of Firestone Industrial Products’ Williamsburg, Kentucky, plant. The expansion will add 250 new jobs at the facility as the company responds to growing demand for air suspensions for electric vehicles.

Bridgestone Americas and Sumeru Equity Partners, Danlaw Inc. and other shareholders have reached an agreement for Bridgestone to purchase Azuga Holdings Inc. and the Azuga fleet management platform.

The $391 million acquisition will accelerate Bridgestone’s efforts to develop and deploy sustainable mobility solutions as a central pillar of the company’s advanced mobility strategy. The transaction has been approved by each company’s board of directors and is expected to close by the end of the third quarter, according to an announcement.

Bridgestone will assume ownership of Azuga’s brands and business platforms, pending customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals. The Azuga fleet management platform, which includes advanced safety and fleet management tools, will complement the existing Bridgestone portfolio of cloud-based fleet mobility solutions.

The acquisition of Azuga will rapidly advance Bridgestone’s comprehensive solutions for small- to enterprise-sized fleets, providing real-time vehicle operations insights and data analytics that will improve safety, increase efficiency and enhance customer service experiences. Bridgestone will leverage Azuga’s robust fleet data capture platform to advance the development of Bridgestone core tire products and AI solutions.

“Azuga is revolutionizing the way that fleets do business in the U.S. with class-leading software and a rapid innovation process that will further advance Bridgestone’s vision to be a sustainable solutions company,” says Paolo Ferrari, global chief solutions business officer, Bridgestone Corporation, and president and CEO, Bridgestone Americas.

“We are working toward providing the most sustainable and intelligent solutions for safer and more efficient mobility, and Azuga will help us accelerate their development and deployment to our customers,” Ferrari says.

Azuga will maintain its headquarters in Silicon Valley. All Azuga employees and facilities across the U.S. and India will join Bridgestone upon completion of the transaction, the company says.

“Bridgestone’s focus on building a more sustainable future through mobility technologies is well aligned with the mission of Azuga,” says Ananth Rani, CEO of Azuga Holdings Inc. “Together, our teams will continue the momentum we’ve already created, and accelerate our path toward providing the most advanced mobility solutions for our customers and society.”

Sumeru Equity Partners Principal Mark Haller says, “Since our initial investment in 2018, Azuga has scaled rapidly to become a leader in the fleet management and mobility solutions market. It has been a privilege to partner with the Azuga team over the last three years, and we look forward to watching Bridgestone and Azuga thrive together in the future.”

The acquisition of Azuga continues Bridgestone’s evolution toward becoming a sustainable solutions company, and builds upon Bridgestone’s recently announced investment in autonomous long-haul trucking company Kodiak Robotics.

Bridgestone breaks ground

In other company news, Bridgestone broke ground on a $51 million expansion of its Firestone Industrial Products’ (FSIP) air springs production facility in Williamsburg, Ky.

The 68,000 sq.-ft. expansion of the Williamsburg Plant is aimed at meeting growing demand for the company’s air springs products, driven by the burgeoning electric vehicle (EV) sector. The expansion, expected to be completed by December 2022, will add 250 new jobs, a nearly 50 percent increase from the more than 500 employees working today at the facility, the company says.

“Today, we celebrate the vitality and growth of this plant and this community, with new investment, new jobs and a physical expansion driven by growing demand for our products and, just as fundamentally, by this team’s commitment to delivering innovation and superior quality for our customers here and around the world,” says Emily Poladian, president, Firestone Industrial Products.

“Our company and our Kentucky team have a vital role to play in the transformation of mobility brought forth by advanced electric vehicle systems and by key supporting technologies like our Firestone air springs and air suspensions,” says Poladian.

FSIP is a supplier of air suspensions for the EV industry. Firestone air suspensions not only help improve ride comfort and handling, but also can increase electric vehicle range and help protect batteries from road impact and overheating. This new chapter was born from a decades’ long history of designing and supplying parts to the majority of commercial vehicle manufacturers in North America, according to an announcement.

Williamsburg Plant employees and Bridgestone leadership were joined in the celebration by Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, U.S. Congressman Hal Rogers, State Senator Robert Stivers, State Representative Regina Huff, Whitley County Judge Executive Pat White, Jr. and Williamsburg Mayor Roddy Harrison.

“As we continue to build a better Kentucky for all of our families, I want to thank Firestone Industrial Products for its partnership with Whitley County, the Eastern Kentucky region and the commonwealth as a whole,” Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said. “This company has been a dedicated corporate partner in the commonwealth for many years, and this investment shows Firestone’s commitment to Kentucky as it creates 250 new jobs to meet increased demand for cutting-edge technology in electric vehicles. Kentucky’s workforce remains a national leader in manufacturing and made our state the perfect place for this expansion.”

FSIP designs, tests and manufactures components for air suspensions in Williamsburg, Ky., which is the only full U.S. manufacturer of this product category. FSIP operates a second plant, in Dyersburg, Tenn., where air springs are assembled. FSIP’s North America Advanced Technical Design Center, in Fishers, Ind., enables the company to remain agile and focus on speed to market, a key requirement of start-up EV companies. The company also operates plants in Brazil, China, Costa Rica and Poland.

FSIP purchased the building and land located in Williamsburg in 1988. The Williamsburg Plant is currently 375,000 sq. ft. It is one of the largest employers in the area with more than 500 employees.        

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