JUNE 10, 1955
VI- ' *' '
DES MOINES PLANT—This aerial view shows the Company plant at Des
Moines. Phases of latest expansion included addition of more than 100,000 square feet
of factory space and 10,800 square feet of additional office space.
THE HAWKEYE STATE—Iowa, with its rolling prairie, is the heartland of
American agriculture. Its fine soil produces more corn than any other state and Iowa
also ranks high in the production of oats, soy beans, pork and beef.
Company Tire Plant Helps Build
Des Moines’ Industrial Progress
By Ralph Darrow
Editor, Firestone Hawkeye
One of the most modern and fastest-growing tire manufacturing plants in the world is
doing its part in bringing desirable diversification in manufacturing to Iowa’s capital city
of Des Moines. On a rolling prairie just north of the city is the plant of the Firestone
Built late in World War II to fit specific military needs, the plant was expanded tre
mendously after the war crisis ended to fill a strong and growing civilian demand for tires.
Expansion is still going on in the O
10-year-old plant because of Des
Moines’ location in the center of a
large and growing market.
The story of Firestone’s Des
Moines plant goes back to World
War II when the United States and
its allies were fighting for life
against the Japanese and Nazis.
The U. S., as the arsenal for the
fighting fronts, was locating many
types of vital plants deep in the
interior where they would be safe
from possible air attacks.
It was decided to locate a tire
plant in Des Moines with the
specific purpose of producing high
flotation tires which could “float”
vehicles over the sticky mud and
soft sand which was slowing the
advance of the allied mechanized
* * *
BUILT BY GOVERNMENT
funds, the plant’s planning and con
struction was under the supervision
Ground was first broken in Octo
ber, 1944; and the first tire rolled
off the assembly lines in April of
1945. Shortly after production be
gan, World War II came to an end
and there no longer was need for
quantity production of military
tires. Since the Government had no
desire to continue in the tire busi
ness, the Firestone Company pur
chased the plant in February, 1948.
An almost continuous program
of expansion has been carried for
ward since Firestone purchased the
plant. The latest plant expansion,
now nearly completed, cost ap
proximately $6,000,000. Phases of
the latest expansion which started
in 1953, were the addition of more
than 100,000 square feet of factory
space, 10,800 square feet of addi
tional office space, and 4,700
square feet of miscellaneous con
struction. A 133-car parking lot
was also added.
Work has now started on another
parking lot and on a warehouse of
382,000 square feet.
* * *
CHARGED WITH supervising
this large operation is J. C. Blue,
General Manager. Mr. Blue came
to Des Moines from the Pottstown,
Pa,, plant in 1948 and most of the
expansion has taken place since he
In addition to producing tires,
the Des Moines plant houses head
quarters for the Western Sales
Division which directs the market
ing of all Firestone products in the
central part of the United States.
The division, headed by A. P.
Mathieson, includes the states of
TIRE ASSEMBLY—One of the most modern tire manufacturing
plants in the world is the Company’s Des Moines plant. Here various
parts of a tire are inseparably joined together on modern tire as
Iowa, Minnesota, North and South
Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas, and
parts of Missouri, Oklahoma and
The sales operations in Des
Moines include ,a retread shop, the
Des Moines District offices and two
THE DES MOINES plant is one
of the most mechanized in the tire
industry, utilizing the latest in
machines and techniques. Raw ma
terials roll into one end and tires
roll out the other in almost one
At the north end is a receiving
dock where employees unload raw
natural rubber from Firestone
plantations in Liberia and from Far
Eastern plantations, synthetic rub
ber manufactured in U. S. plants,
fabric from Firestone textile mills
and other materials needed in tire
As the raw materials move south,
they are processed and assembled
into tires which are cured, closely
inspected so as to meet the high
quality demanded, then shipped out
at the south end
* * :|C
THE PLANT ALSO is an asset
to the community in which it is
located. It provides employment
for 2,000 men and women of Des
Moines and surrounding communi
The city of Des Moines was set
tled by a handful of pioneers in
1843. Primarily a town of insurance
offices and publishing firms, the
city has begun to achieve promi
nence as a manufacturing center.
The Firestone plant is one of the
top three industries in the city in
size of payroll.
There are 72 schools ranging
from kindergarten through the
University level. Best known is
Iowa is the heartland of Ameri
can agriculture, possessing some
of the finest soil in the world and
one quarter of the Grade A land
in the United States. Ninety-seven
per cent of the rolling prairie is
under production of crops.
Ji^iR„jiriii; s fss'iw-Trr-.-.
CITY SKYLINE—Primarily a town of in
surance offices and publishing firms, the city now
is growing as an industrial center.
STATE CAPITOL—Des Moines is the capital
of the state of Iowa. Pictured above is the Capitol
Building with its gold dome.
KNEE DEEP IN CORN—The state leads
the country in corn with 10,965,000 acres in produc
tion. In 1952 the state produced the first billion
PASTURE SCENE—Excellent pastures
grazing land make Iowa rank second in cattl®'
Holsteins dominate dairy cattle and much creamc*"^
butter is produced.