Seventy years ago in Japan, Rikimatsu Tomihisa saw an opportunity to provide the world with better tires. As a result, he founded Toyo Tire & Rubber Company.
Out of the Ashes
After two companies’ manufacturing plants were completely destroyed by Allied bombs during World War II, they cooperated to rebuild and form a new company. Those companies were Toyo Rubber Industrial and Hirano Rubber Manufacturing. Together they successfully reestablished their manufacturing sights and combined to become Toyo Tire & Rubber Company with Tomihisa at the head.
The leadership of the newly formed Toyo set their eyes beyond the borders of Japan and its automotive market. They set out to supply Toyo tires and other rubber products to consumers around the globe. They were determined to make Toyo the leader in the automotive rubber industry. A major move toward that goal came two years later when Toyo exported its first truck tires.
Toyo began expanding rapidly in the late 1940s and early 1950s. The owners saw an excellent opportunity for further growth, so they listed the company on the Tokyo Stock Exchange in 1955. Selling shares in the company provided the funds for even more expansion, including the establishment of Toyo’s first research and development center in 1961. That would give Toyo the chance to produce new, cutting-edge technologies that would power them to the head of the industry.
Because of the high demand for Toyo’s products, both tires and otherwise, the company needed to grow. In 1964, they opened a new manufacturing plant in Hyogo, Japan. Then, in 1966, Toyo became the first Japanese tire producer to establish a subsidiary in the US. At this point, Toyo was only finding success in one branch of the tire sales industry producing commercial tires. It would be nearly a decade before that changed.
Over the course of the next 10 years, several more manufacturing plants and subsidiaries were established. Toyo also acquired stakes in Australia and Europe. In addition, a tire testing course was built that allowed the company to test and put on display its newest innovations. Yet the biggest expansion for Toyo during this period occurred in 1975. That year, Toyo began to distribute passenger tires in addition to their already well-known commercial tires.
New Ventures & Partnerships
To become the world’s leading tire manufacturer, Toyo launched several initiatives beginning in the late 1970s and 1980s. The company started manufacturing tires here in the US, and it entered into the Canadian tire market. Toyo joined its competitors in the professional motorsports arena as well.
Now that Toyo was operating in the highly competitive passenger tire market and entering new regions, the company’s leadership made several strategic partnerships. Those partnerships included Nitto Tires and Mitsubishi in Japan. It developed an alliance agreement with Continental Tire in Europe. Toyo acquired several other small tire companies and industrial products manufacturers too.
Toyo’s growth through mergers, acquisitions, and partnerships continued into the 1990s. However, they never wavered from their focus on growing the company with high quality tires. As more niche auto markets became popular, Toyo began engineering specialty tires for those markets.
The first major specialty tires that Toyo tackled were aimed at the compact, tuner market. These small cars for racing enthusiasts used the biggest tires with the lowest profiles possible. Toyo saw these cars becoming more popular, so they met the demand for their tires. The next niche market Toyo capitalized on was the rugged light truck and SUV tires. Those were followed by the luxury and the off-road markets. Wherever Toyo saw a demand for precisely designed tires for very specific needs, they met that demand.
With the same guiding principles as when the company was founded, today, Toyo is committed to “innovation, quality, performance, and excellent customer service.” For that reason, the company continues to develop more types of tires to meet the needs of more drivers. From new luxury touring tires to new high performance tires, Toyo strives to create the right tires for every driver on the road.