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MEN AND RUBBER—The Fireslone Tire &
Rubber Company (SS) Ltd. of Singapore. Harvey
S. Fireslone Jr. once described Singapore as "that
remarkable metropolis of Malaya, halfway
around the world, where rubber plays so prom
inent a part in the lives of men."
Singapore Plant In 41st Year
Firestone’s world leadership in rubber es
tablished another landmark in 1958, when the
company completed 40 years of operation at its
Singapore plant in the Far East.
Since Harvey S. Firestone established the op
eration in 1918, the company has bought well
over 3,000,000 tons of rubber in the Singapore
and Malaya markets at a cost of more than
Setting up the rubber-grading-preparation
plant off the southern tip of the Malaya Peninsu
la was a bold venture in 1918. Today, establish
ment of a faraway plant may seem a fairly
routine procedure. The great number of plants,
plantations and sales outlets the company now
has throughout the world, easily leads us to think
the building of a foreign plant is a rather normal
But in, 1918, it took the foresight of the com
pany founder, to envision the future possibilities
and the necessity of the Singapore operation. It
was necessary, reasoned Mr. Firestone, that it
might insure the highest quality of natural rubber
and make it available for Firestone tires and
FIRESTONE is today a world leader in the
production of rubber through its plantations and
synthetic rubber plants. Too, it is one of the
world’s largest purchasers of natural rubber, and
this primarily through the Singapore operation.
A buying office had been established in 1915
at Singapore. Decision to build the grading and
preparation plant was made soon thereafter, be
cause Mr. Firestone realized the importance of
representation near the supply for better control
of quality and for improved price advantage, by
buying competitively, at the rubber source.
Firestone’s annual purchases of natural rub
ber represent approximately 10 per cent of that
consumed by the free world. In addition. Fire
stone annually produces on its own plantations
in Liberia 40,000 tons of natural rubber, much of
which is a premium grade such as latex and
pale crepe required for special uses.
During the 40 years of the Singapore operation,
rubber prices have fluctuated between a low of
2% per cent per pound in 1932 and a high of
$1.23 in 1925. Rubber was considered the most
speculative basic world commodity in the early
Singapore is an island off the lower tip
of the Malaya Peninsula. The city of Singa
pore, with a population of almost 700,000,
is a great commercial center and major
British naval base in the Far East. It is a
leading port for tin and rubber.
The Sultan of Johore ceded the Island to
the British in 1824. Japan took it in World
War II. It was part of the Straits Settle
ments colony until 1946. It is now a crown
colony, which includes Christmas Island
in the Indian Ocean.
days of the industry, causing the rubber manu
facturing enterprises to be very risky from the
THE SYNTHETIC rubber industry which
emerged during World War II has made a vital
contribution to the total available rubber sup
ply and has served as a stabilizing influence on
the price of natural rubber. Yet Firestone, along
with other companies in the industry, is using
more tons of natural rubber today than before
synthetic rubber was developed.
J. C. Roberts, president of the Firestone Syn
thetic Rubber & Latex Company and director
of rubber purchases, emphasizes this when he
says that the procurement of natural rubber is
just as important to us now as it ever was.
Reasons for this are the development of more
and more uses for rubber and increased require
ments for tires and other uses already existing.
As one of the few American companies with
direct representation in the Far East, the com
pany buys an impressive share of the production
of Malaya and Singapore. An important part of
the output of these countries is produced by
Asian small holders on their own land. In addi
tion to raising rice and other food, hunting and
fishing, these small-land holders cultivate rub
ber trees. They tap the trees each day, allow the
latex to coagulate and press it into sheets which
are dried. They trade it to merchants who put it
through a smoking process before it is forwarded
to packers like Firestone.
AT THE GO-DOWN (the Malayan word for
warehouse), rubber is examined and samples are
tested for cleanliness and quality. Stock meeting
the highest quality standards is purchased, wash
ed, graded, baled and marked for shipment.
Bales are loaded into lighters on the Kellang
River on which the warehouse is located. The
harvest is taken to Singapore Harbor, transferred
to ocean steamers and sent to ports of entry
throughout the world, to supply Firestone plants
in the United States and 24 in other countries.
During World War II Singapore—along with
most of the Far East—^was possessed by the
Japanese. When the war was ended Firestone
representatives returned and put the plant into
operation in record time. The facilities had not
been destroyed by bombing.
Another national emergency was declared dur
ing the Korean conflict. Company chairman
Harvey S. Firestone Jr. gave his organization’s
wholehearted cooperation to the General Serv
ices Administration in Washington which took
over rubber buying and allocation. The Firestone
buying system and the Singapore preparation
mills were placed at the government’s disposal.
Today, production goes forward under company
D. E. Clutter is managing director of the Fire
stone Tire & Rubber Company (SS) Ltd., of
Singapore. There, in the Far East, the company
plant has operated for more than 40 years under
the Firestone slogan;
“Better Rubber from Start to Finish.”
IDENTIFICATION—One of the Asian stencil girls at the Singa
pore plant shows the handiwork which identifies the contract
number and destination of a bale of natural rubber.
INSPECTION—Before natural rubber is purchased it is ex
amined and samples are tested for cleanliness. The best is washed,
graded, baled and marked for shipment.
CONVEYOR BELT—Bales of top-quality rubber are readied for
shipment in the Singapore classifying and preparation plant.
WORLD JOURNEY—This view from the Kellang River
Firestone warehouse shows bales of rubber being loaded
lighter to bs taken to Singapore Harbor for shipment to nine
in the United Stales and 24 in other countries.