Tradition and Transformation, 1870–1995

Mansel G. Blackford and K. Austin Kerr

Historical Perspectives on Business Enterprise



508 pp. 6x9



“This is an outstanding book. Exhaustively researched, it educates the reader not only about BFGoodrich but also about industries in which it has competed. Indded, this book throws new light upon the history of American business in general during the last century and a quarter.” —Richard S. Tellow, Graduate School of Business Administration, Harvard University

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centures, BFGoodrich made rubber goods ranging from fire hoses to automobile tires and, in so doing, became one of the largest and most important rubber manufacturers in the world. The history of the BFGoodrich Company has been a complex blend of transformations and traditions, as this study of the company’s history from the firm’s founding in 1870 through its 125th anniversary in 1995 reveals. Mansel G. Blackford and K. Austin Kerr, two leading business historians, place the BFGoodrich story in the full context of the industries and the economic environments in which the firm operated.

During and after World War II, BFGoodrich remained a leading rubber manufacturer—pioneering the development of synthetic rubber—but greatly expanded its production of chemical and plastic products as well. Dramatic changes occurred in the latter third of the twentieth century, as BFGoodrich left tire making and the manufacture of rubber products and also eventually abandoned making commodity plastic products. Today BFGoodrich is engaged in the global production and sale of specialty chemical and aerospace products and services.

In what is more than an internal study, Blackford and Kerr examine BFGoodrich’s strategies for growth in light of technological developments, changes in labor relations, and modifications in government-business relations that constantly reshaped how the firm and its competitors conducted business. Grantef full access to corporate records and given full cooperation in interviews, with no restrictions placed on their writing, the authors provide an almost unprecedented look at how a major American institution evolved over more than a century.

Mansel G. Blackford is professor of history at The Ohio State University and the author of The Politics of Business in California, 1890–1920 and The Lost Dream: Businessmen and City Planning on the Pacific Coast, 1890–1920, among others. K. Austin Kerr is professor of history at The Ohio State University and the author of Organized for Prohibition: A New History of the Anti-Saloon League and American Railroad Politics: Rates, Wages, and Efficiency, 1914–1920. Together, Blackford and Kerr are the authors of Business Enterprise in American History.