One of the largest international transportation providers joined forces with the world's largest tire and rubber good manufacturer when FirstGroup plc, the UK-based parent company to North American school bus contractor First Student, signed a five-year, $110-million supply deal with Bridgestone Tire Group.
The partnership was announced Wednesday, and it represents the largest global supplier deal to date for both companies.
Bridgestone is now responsible for meeting all of FirstGroup’s tire needs in the UK, and providing 80 percent of the tires used by FirstGroup’s U.S. holdings at FirstGroup America, including First Student and Greyhound. The primary tire to be specified is the UAP-001, a durable, all-terrain and all-weather tire optimized for coaches and buses; tread patterns will differ according to the market.
FirstGroup said its goal to “provide solutions for an increasingly congested world” is complemented well by Bridgestone’s commitment to “serving society with superior quality” products. "Because we never stop innovating to advance safety and efficiency, we actively pursue opportunities to make buses even safer," First Student explained, including "better wheels and tires."
Having overcome stiff competition to achieve its goal of becoming the primary tire supplier to FirstGroup, Bridgestone is proud of this opportunity to "demonstrate [their] value and ability to deliver on a global level."
FirstGroup and Bridgestone both started overseas, FirstGroup as a British transportation operator, and Bridgestone originating in Japan. The two companies have worked together in the UK, but this is the largest international supplier agreement for either of them to date.
FirstGroup expanded to the USA in 1999 and within 10 years was running the largest fleet of yellow school buses in the United States, as well as the nation’s only intercity bus system, Greyhound. Its school subsidiary, First Student, is North America’s largest school transportation organization, boasting 47,000 school buses that carry schoolchildren on six million trips a day.
Bridgestone began operating in the United States in the 1960s, with new acquisitions and rapid international growth following. Today, Bridgestone provides 25 countries with chemical products, industrial and sporting rubber goods, and total tire solutions from brand new tires to retreading.