Dayton is the smallest and least known member of the Bridgestone Tyre group, although it is almost three decades older than the larger Japanese giant it belongs to. Dayton tyres were also one of the founders of American tyre power, which has its origins in various places across the state of Ohio.
The founding father of Dayton was John C. Hooven, a retired soldier, well-known in the local area as a businessman. Before he founded the Dayton Rubber Company (DRC) in Hamilton, Ohio on the 17th of May 1905, he had been involved in various other fields, including agricultural modernisation and machinery production.
As the head of the DRC, Hooven saw the company successfully produce various rubber items, such as garden hoses, raincoats, gaskets and various other elements used in industrial machinery.
In 1908, Hooven received a visit from John A. MacMillan, a young inventor from Prince Edward Island. The Canadian brought Dayton an idea for a finished product that could bring the firm commercial success in the fast developing car tyre industry. The first models of MacMillan’s tyres, advertised as “For the man who wants to get rid of his tire troubles”, did indeed bring Dayton fame and considerable profits. In 1913, the firm extended its range, offering elegant tyres with white sidewalls as well.
MacMillan thus began his own career at the company. The inventor was rewarded with the post of general manager and, shortly afterwards, was promoted to president. Under his leadership, Dayton started construction of a larger factory on the Pennsylvania Railroad route in 1917. Production started just a year later and, by 1920, it was already operating at full capacity.
The Dayton logo
Dayton under Freedlander – market expansion
Another important figure in the American tyre and rubber company’s history was A.L Freedlander, the first manager at the new Ohio factory. Freedlander, educated as a chemist and engineer, created the concept of a diversification programme, which would enable the Dayton tyre company to broaden its output and make its mark in other sections of the rubber market. Through this programme, the company successfully entered such sectors as textiles and sports.
In 1936, Freedlander became the new president of the Dayton tyre and rubber company. Overall, his career with the company lasted a total of 52 years. His grand plans were initially interrupted by the outbreak of the Second World War, when the firm’s factories switched to military production, manufacturing such items as liquid tanks, dinghies and life jackets
Dynamic development of Dayton tyres began in the 1920s
Internal changes: DAYCO and the Firestone takeover
In the 1950s, the company began expanding across the United States, broadening its range of operations. In 1952, it bought the American Latex Products Corporation in Hawthorne, California, which produced mattresses, pillows and bedspreads.
Five years later, Dayton became the owner of the Cadillac Plastic and Chemical Company, based in Detroit, which manufactured plastic tubes, sheets and dinghies. At the end of the decade, Dayton also acquired Hardman Aerospace in Los Angeles, a firm whose products included aeroplane seats, brake shoes, and other interior parts. It also acquired the Metal Hose and Tubing Company in Dover, responsible for rubber hoses reinforced with steel fibres.
In 1959, the Dayton tyre manufacturer made its debut on the Indian market but, in 1960, the company changed its name to DAYCO Corporation. However, just a year later the Dayton rubber company was taken over by the Firestone tyre company, another US giant in the industry.
However, it is worth remembering that, up until this point, Dayton’s engineers had been renowned for decades of innovations. The tyres Dayton put forward were often innovative, as the company was one of the first US companies to produce a tubeless tyre, as well as one of the first manufacturers of low pressure tyres.
Dayton tyres has always been renowned for their dynamics.
Dayton joins with Bridgestone
In 1973, the company gained its long-serving symbol, the character of Leon, created by one of its employees, Chick Noreau. Used to advertise Dayton tyres, Leon became an icon who, during the 1970s and 1980’s was almost as recognisable as Mickey Mouse, at least in the United States.
In 1988, the Firestone Dayton company came under the wing of the Japanese tyre group, Bridgestone. Initially, this new ownership enabled the American firm to continue its development, producing tyres for heavy goods vehicles, as well as sports tyres.
In subsequent years, however, the brand’s importance on the global market declined. However, even today, there are still nearly 2000 employees who makes Dayton tyres continue to succeed, with products recognised and sold across the world, including the United Kingdom. Many of its current tyres are produced in Poland, at the Bridgestone factory in Poznan.
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Want to see more about the history of the Dayton rubber and tyre company? Here we have a collection of adverts and photographs from across it’s history, from its earliest days, to the Firestone Dayton tyres period and to its later position under the Bridgestone corporation.