When Gary Garfield, who recently retired CEO of Bridgestone Americas, first took the reins in March 2010, the company had grown stagnant. Its North American tire business had been losing money and draining cash for years. Through his innovative approach to changing the culture of the organization, however, Garfield changed the focus of the organization, drove collaboration and broke down silos. The result:  the company pulled out of its marketplace rut.

Gary Garfield led the charge in creating a better workplace environment by creating accountability, driving sound management practices, and welcoming team input. He transformed Bridgestone’s focus fr...

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A Company as a Community Partner

The marriage of a tire company CEO and green initiatives seems unlikely, however that is what Gary Garfield former CEO of Bridgestone Americas brought together under his leadership. While serving as CEO, Gary oversaw the reduction of CO2 admission in Bridgestone plants as well as becoming the first tire company to recycle 100% of its waste in three of its plants. In this personal and forward thinking talk, Gary will show leaders how corporate social responsibility does not have to hurt the bottom line. This is evidence by Bridgestone Americas turning a record profit each year Garfield was the CEO. A company is part of a community therefore, it must be part of a better tomorrow.

Culture First
What must a new CEO must do when its globally recognized brand has grown stagnant and the company is performing poorly?  (Chris, the first thing we did was set high expectations, made profitability the focus of the entire organization, and created line of sight on business performance) 

Gary Garfield, former CEO of Bridgestone Americas, focused on changing the culture. Garfield brought innovative means to answering the age-old questions of how does a company break down silos, better handle conflict within the organization, and break out of its rut. By answering these questions in a new and fresh way, Garfield took Bridgestone Americas and its 55,000 employees to a 13% increase in revenue and increased profitability by 500% in six yearsGarfield led the charge of how to create a better environment for people to work in and how leadership listened to its team members. After hearing this keynote, audiences will have new ideas about how to improve their culture, why it is important to look at how your employees view their jobs, and how to spark innovation in your company.

Leaders Make The Necessary Changes
Turning around a company that has had years of low profits, poor cash flow, and stagnant growth to six years of record breaking profits does not happen by accident. Gary Garfield achieved just this at Bridgestone Americas. Profits grew 500% during his six years as the CEO. In this keynote, Garfield will talk about his journey of leading an iconic brand through explosive growth and profit by changing the focus of the organization, breaking down silos, and changing a tire manufacturer into a marketing company.  With a thoughtful approach, audiences will be able to glean takeaways for whatever change their business may be facing.

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  • Gary Garfield handicaps Middle Tennessee's transit-funding options
    Gary Garfield handicaps Middle Tennessee's transit-funding options
    Jan 18, 2017
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    Gary Garfield handicaps Middle Tennessee's transit-funding options
    Jan 18, 2017
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    As Middle Tennessee leaders continue to focus on solving the region's $6 billion mass-transit question, it is clear the answer to funding the region's transit overhaul is anything but simple.

    Gary Garfield, former CEO of Bridgestone Americas Inc, said he sees four paths toward paying for the area's nMotion plan, and they all have varying likelihoods of success.

    "Mass transit can't move forward without money," Garfield said.

    Garfield is the chairman of Moving Forward, a Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce-backed transit coalition. The coalition is made of business leaders across the city's various industries and has played a vocal role in pushing forward the area's conversations around transit.

    According to Garfield, the region's four funding sources are local funding, state funding, federal funding and public-private partnerships. Here's how Garfield sees the region's potential pathways to securing its $6 billion worth of funding:

    1. Local funding: Current estimates for Middle Tennessee's plan are based on the principle that $3 billion of the plan's price tag will come from local funds, placing a heavy burden on local officials, such as Nashville Mayor Megan Barry, to create their own funding plans. In November, a committee with Moving Forward revealed the results of a study conducted by the Victoria Transport Policy Institute to devise options for paying for the Nashville region's nMotion plan. The seven local funding options included everything from direct taxes on residents to fees that impact the area's growing tourism industry. However, none of the seven local funding options are possible without some type of enabling legislation on the state level that will allow local governments to raise their own dedicated funding for transit. Garfield said he and his coalition are focused on securing enabling legislation during this legislative session, thereby opening the door for regional mayors to then take their own funding options to local voters.

    2. State funding: Garfield said he does not expect the state to fund the region's mass-transit projects, adding he does not know if that method is particularly fair to other Tennesseans. Garfield's assessment that the state will be unlikely to hand over funds is fair, considering Speaker of the House Beth Harwell recently reiterated her stance that the state does not fund mass transit.

    3. Federal funding: Garfield said there are some funds reserved on the federal level to help support mass-transit projects. It is unclear just how much the region would receive if the federal government were to hand out money, but Garfield said he is optimistic the region would be applicable to receive "some money."

    4. Public-private partnerships: In the 2016 legislative session, state lawmakers passed a bill to allow local governments (as well as the state) to enter into public-private partnerships to finance, build and maintain mass transit and other infrastructure projects. Garfield said he sees local officials using such partnerships in the future, but added he does not see this type of financing as what gets the region's funding efforts off the ground.

  • Trump administration must take climate change seriously
    Trump administration must take climate change seriously
    Jan 17, 2017
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    Trump administration must take climate change seriously
    Jan 17, 2017
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    To the Honorable President-elect of the United States:

    I am neither a politician nor a scientist. I am a businessman who had the great fortune of leading a $15 billion, 55,000-person international company for nearly seven years.

    I made some good decisions and some not so good decisions, but, given that profits grew five-fold in six years, I think it is fair to say that I was successful in that role. It is in that vein — businessman to businessman — that I draft this letter.

    First, congratulations on your election. Now, with your first day in office imminent, there is undoubtedly intense pressure to create immediate change. However, decisions affecting the long-term resilience of our economy and our planet justify great deliberation, not haste.

    As President of the United States, your greatest responsibility will be to protect our country. This includes not just military challenges, but all threats. As a fellow business person who also understands the need to manage risk, I ask you to take the threat of climate change seriously. I urge you to consider the economic and scientific facts before pulling the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Agreement.

    A hasty decision on this issue, will likely isolate our nation, cede technology, innovation and jobs to China, and limit market access for our exporters.

    Before making such decisions, please take time to discuss it with a wide range of experts. The United States has many of the greatest research and academic institutions in the history of the world — Harvard, Yale, the University of Pennsylvania and Stanford to name just a few. Ask some of these great institutions to send their leading experts in the area of climate change and economics to meet with you for one hour.

    Discuss with them the science of climate change, why they believe it is man-induced, and its likely consequences to the United States. Ask them whether the climate is changing at the rate predicted by their models and how much time we have for the global community to get it right.

    Then, ask them to address the economic consequences of ignoring climate change as well as the economic opportunity for America if we were to take the lead in advancing clean energy.

    A decision to stay the course on climate and institute policies harnessing American ingenuity to create truly efficient clean energy technology — akin to the effort behind the Manhattan Project — will help drive both jobs and our economy for decades to come.

    Clean energy industries currently provide over 2.5 million Americans with well-paying jobs, and China is poised to create over 13 million such jobs. America also stands to become a net exporter of clean energy technology, and over 630 leading businesses have publicly urged their support for a low carbon economy.

    Right now America has the opportunity to be a global leader for clean energy, or to surrender that leadership position to Europe and China which currently outspend us on that technology. Because of both the urgency and long-term economic and other broad-ranging consequences of climate change, your decision on this issue is likely to determine your legacy.

    Moreover, respectfully, you owe it to your electorate, not to mention your grandchildren, to meet with the leading scientists and economists in the country before making such a consequential decision.

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