Firestone Work In Liberia Praised by Planning Group /
Acheives Both Profits and Good Will /
By JOSEPH E. KUEBLER
Business and Industrial Writer
Operations of Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. in Liberia were cited today as an outstanding
example of how an American firm has achieved both good profits and good will in an
Firestone received this recognition in the fifth of a series of case studies of U.S.
business performance abroad. The National Planning Association (NPA) conducted the study.
Founded in 1934, NPA is a nonprofit, nonpolitical organization devoted to planning by
Americans in agriculture, business, labor and the professions.
The 140-page booklet, made public today, was written by Wayne Chatfield Taylor,
chairman of the association's executive committee. Taylor is a widely known economist and
long has been active in public affairs.
His analysis of Firestone's direct and indirect contributions to the social and
economic development of Liberia was made during a first-hand investigation earlier this
Incidentally, 1956 marks the 30th anniversary of Firestone in the West African
During these three decades, Firestone has had an impact on Liberia that extends far
beyond the boundaries of its two plantations, Taylor wrote. Actually this influence, he
added, pervades almost every aspect of Liberian life.
"Part of this imapct has been the result of conscious effort by Firestone," Taylor
continued. "The rest has been the unintentional though inevitable consequence of the
presence of the company in the country, of its attitudes, and of the ways in which it has
conducted its business."
Firestone, he points out, has been, and still is the largest employer, the largest
taxpayer, and the largest importer and exporter in the little nation. For 30 years, it has
been the largest trainer of human skills.
"It has been and still is the pacesetter for the whole country in determining the
domestic wage and price levels and labor relations, generally," Taylor wrote.
One important result of the good will established by the Akron firm is the "open door"
policy of Liberia's President William V.S. Tubman for private foreign capital, Taylor
In a letter prefacing the NPA report, President Tubman commented that the success of
the Firestone venture is proof of the part enlightened private capital can play in the
building of underdeveloped countries on the basis of mutual benefits.
Many American European countries are investing in Liberia now. Among them, Tubman
listed Liberia Mining Co., B.F. Goodrich co., which recently started a rubber plantation,
African Fruit Co. and the Liberian-American-Swedish Minerals Co.
Taylor estimates that Firestone accounts for nearly 39 percent of the Liberian
government's total revenues, more than 70 percent of the value of its exports, and 35 to 40
percent of its dutiable imports.
Firestone's average annual payroll numbers 25,000 Liberian workers, by far the largest
of any enterprise.
During the 30 years the company created two modern rubber plantations which Taylor says
independent rubber experts consider the most efficient in existence.
"All this has been achieved," Taylor noted, "in what was impenetrable, uninhabited and
disease-ridden jungle with a labor force that knew nothing but the most primitive tools."
Perhaps the greatest praise Firestone merits, he went on, is not because of its
positive achievements, but because of its success in resisting the temptation to misuse its
preponderant wealth and power.
The association's reports have two basic purposes, Charles J. Symington, chairman of
the NPA policy committee, pointed out. First, NPA hopes to prove that U.S. firms, while
operating profitably, can and do contribute to the over-all development programs of many
countries and that they are popular in their host countries.
By studying the policies and methods of these operations, NPA seeks to discover
patterns which will prove guides to other U.S. companies abroad and to potential private
Click tabs to swap between content that is broken into logical sections.
Copyright owned by the Akron Beacon Journal. The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) governs the making of reproductions of copyrighted material. This material from the picture file is protected by the copyright law. The library makes this picture available for the personal use of the borrower to be used for private study, scholarship or research. Reproduction, alteration or derivative use of this visual image for the purposes other than those listed above without the express written permission of the copyright holder may constitute an infringement of copyright law.