AIRIDE PLANT—The long building near the
top of this aerial photo is the Company Airide
factory in Noblesville, Ind., opened for produc
tion in recant months. Rubber air springs, mar
keted as "Airide by Firestone" are produced here.
RIGHT—Large manufacturing area of plant be
fore installation of the equipment. The factory
structure contains 550 tons of sieel.
Building Of Indiana Air Springs Plant
Good Example Of Company At Work
In recent months another new Company plant
was opened for production. A steady stream of
rubber air springs, incorporating nylon fabric
such as is produced at the Gastonia plant, began
rolling off the assembly lines at Noblesville, Ind.
“Airide by Firestone” would be marketed to be
used as optional equipment in 1958 automobiles.
Starting the wheels of this factory didn’t just
happen overnight. Into it went months of prep
aration, planning and work by hundreds of peo
ple all over the country, including many em
ployees from the headquarters plant in Akron.
Much had to be done before volume production
could be established. A site had to be chosen;
the plant had to be built, machines for the new
product had to be designed and manufactured,
and other machines had to be purchased. All
these had to be installed. Water and steam lines
and electricity had to be put into service.
IT ALL BEGAN in the fall of 1956, when Chair
man Harvey S. Firetsone, Jr. announced plans
for construction of the Noblesville plant. It
would be built adjacent to the Industrial Prod
ucts plant, where air springs had been produced
for some years, for use on Greyhound Sceni-
cruisers. General Motors trucks, and for rail car
The new Airide springs were developed by
Firestone and are now replacing conventional
leaf and coil springs on vehicles.
After the decision came to build the plant,
D. E. Engle, division manager of plant procure
ment and operation, started procedures for let
ting contracts for design and construction of the
Plans for the one-story, steel-frame building
were drawn up by Giffels and Vallet, Inc., L.
Rossetti, architects, of Detroit, specialists in fac
tory design. The plans called for a large manu
facturing area, office space, locker rooms, and
In November of 1956, officials of the Industrial
Products Company, including P. P. Crisp, presi
dent; B. J. Ferkes, Noblesville plant manager;
and city and county officials watched as Mayor
Herman E. Lawson of Noblesville turned the first
shovelful of earth for the building. The contrac
tor, H. K. Ferguson Company of Cleveland, was
ready to begin construction.
THROUGHOUT the winter months, as builders
erected steel beams, poured concrete and in
stalled plumbing, many Akron employees were
busy helping to get the new plant underway.
People of the engineering division’s design de
partment started drawings for efficient equip
ment layout, piping and electrical wiring.
Members of the engineering laboratory of the
Akron plants began producing designs of special
new equipment which would be needed for air
spring production. Original models of this equip
ment—such as assembly machines, servers and
curing stands—were manufactured and proved-
out in the laboratory.
After these first models were tested, em
ployees of the Mechanical Building, Akron, were
called upon to build the additional machines
needed for the plant. These included a great
calendar, mills, a bias cutter and machine shop
equipment. It was the job of these purchasing
men to place orders where quality products
could be obtained at the best possible price, then
to follow through on orders to see that materials
were delivered on schedule. The Akron depart
ment also purchased construction steel, main
power cables and other electrical service equip
P. F. Krans, engineer assigned to Industrial
Products, followed the entire construction job.
He spent many days in Noblesville, supervising
the work and setting up production. He worked
closely with Bill Klein and Jim Robertson of the
Noblesville plant, who were directly in charge
of the construction.
ALSO GOING from Akron to Noblesville was
Chuck Williams of the engineering department,
to supervise equipment installation and piping.
Electrical engineer J. F. Wright was there, too,
watching over electrical operations, including
installation of the sub-station, power lines, ma
chine hookups and proper lighting.
After all these phases of the work were com
pleted, these men stayed on to work out any prob
lems and to see that the new, modern establish
ment was operating at peak efficiency.
When the plant began production last sum
mer, almost 150 persons were hired to work.
So, with the volume production of a new prod
uct comes another plant affording jobs to many
people and adding thousands of dollars to the
economy of the Noblesville area. It required the
time and talents of many Firestone employees
in Noblesville and outside Noblesville, all work
ing together to put the Company’s 39th domestic
plant into production.
GIGANTIC MACHINE—This calendar forms strips of processed
rubber into one continuous sheet.
SUBSTATION—High-voltage electrical substa
tion supplies power for the airide plant. Over
head pipelines bring steam and compressed air
from nearby plant.
PRODUCTION—Airide springs began coming
from the production lines at Noblesville last sum
mer. Supervisor Lowell Burris instructs new
" *“ -—*
CONFERENCE—Firestone and Ferguson company personnel
held many discussions on planning and building. From left, W. A.
Klein, chief engineer for the Noblesville plant; James Robertson,
Firestone project engineer; and John H. Travis, project engineer
for Ferguson, go over blueprints of the plant.