Born in Columbiana, Ohio, Harvey Firestone saw the flaws in traditional tires and made it his life’s work to improve them. His first accomplishment was popularizing pneumatic rubber tires which, compared to wooden and solid rubber tires, provide more shock absorption for a smoother ride.
Convinced there was a market for his new tires, he founded Firestone Tire and Rubber in Akron in 1900. Firestone’s instincts proved to be right; 26 years after its founding, the company was producing more than 10 million tires a year. Why It Matters: Firestone’s company also went on to develop treads to grip the road better, gum-dipping to make tires stronger and a suspension device that eliminated body roll when rounding corners.