EASTERN Cape- born Mike Halforty has been appointed the first homegrown chief executive of Bridgestone South Africa (BSA).
Traditionally, BSA has been headed by an executive seconded from Japan but Halforty’s appointment represents a departure from convention and shows the parent company’s confidence in the quality of local management, the company announced yesterday.
Halforty joined BSA’s Port Elizabeth manufacturing plant in 1997. A succession of internal promotions saw him appointed as the plant director before taking over the same role at Bridgestone’s Brits plant in 2011.
He was appointed chief operating officer in 2012 before becoming chief executive this year.
“The appointment of local staff to senior positions within our company is very encouraging and reinforces Bridgestone’s commitment to SA.
“The fact that I have been appointed to the position of chief executive is humbling and at the same time a responsibility that is not taken lightly,” Halforty said.
Halforty, 59, was born in Queenstown and grew up in Newcastle in KwaZulu- Natal. He joined the tyre industry in 1984 in the manufacturing division of a Bridgestone competitor based in Port Elizabeth.
He joined Bridgestone in 1997 and lived in Port Elizabeth with his family before moving to Gauteng to work at the Brits plant.
“Living in any city is not without its challenges, but we really loved living in PE – it is a great place with great people.
“The PE plant remains an integral part of Bridgestone SA’s business plan and employs approximately 400 people,” Halforty said.
BSA’s head office is in Isando, with regional offices in all the major cities in the country.
The Port Elizabeth and Brits factories produce passenger tyres, commercial as well as 4×4, SUV, agricultural and earthmover speciality tyres.
Halforty’s shoes as chief operating officer are now being filled by Kazutoshi (Ken) Oyama, whose hometown is Tokyo.
He has spent his career in numerous Japanese and international postings for Bridgestone.
Halforty’s appointment as the first South African chief executive for BSA follows Mercedes-Benz South Africa’s appointment of its first South African-born chief executive earlier this year.
Arno van der Merwe was the second South African to head the MBSA factory in East London in 2012, but is the first chief executive of South African birth to lead the company. – Cindy Preller