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Williamson promoted to corporate headquarters; Darr new plant manager

Bridgestone Americas announced Monday the promotion of Gary Williamson from his role as Wilson plant manager to executive director of manufacturing operations at Bridgestone’s corporate headquarters in Nashville, Tenn.

The promotion is the second for the Wilson plant as Michael Darr, Bridgestone’s operations manager, is now the new plant manager in Wilson. The changes took place Monday, although Williamson will be working with Darr and transitioning into his new role the remainder of August.

“I’m real excited about this opportunity,” said Williamson, Wilson’s plant manager since August 2011. “I hate leaving Wilson. Wilson’s been really good for me but I’m excited about the opportunity.”

Williamson will oversee Bridgestone plants, including Wilson, and other facilities as the executive director of manufacturing operations for the Bridgestone Americas Manufacturing Group at the company’s Americas Support Center in Nashville, Tenn. His experience and accomplishments in Wilson set the stage for his move to the corporate level.

“Gary has led many significant initiatives within our organization, particularly during his recent tenure in Wilson,” said Barry Owens, vice president of manufacturing, Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations. “We look forward to his continued contributions to Bridgestone Americas as he transitions to ASC.”

Some of his achievements include safety milestones, becoming the first plant globally to be certified as Zero Waste to Landfill by Underwriter’s Laboratory, three consecutive years of record Original Equipment quality performance, including multiple OE supplier recognitions, and two consecutive United Way Spirit of North Carolina awards for the Wilson plant having the best fundraising program in the state, Owens said.

Williamson has worked for the company nearly 34 years at plants in Oklahoma City, Aiken, S.C. and Wilson.

After the announcement was released, Williamson spent much of the day Monday contacting friends, colleagues and other leaders representing a variety of boards he’s served on during his three years in Wilson. Williamson said he wanted to be the first to let others know about his promotion and plans to leave. He has resigned from several boards he’s served on in Wilson, including the United Way, Wilson Chamber of Commerce, Wilson 20/20, OIC and the Upper Coastal Plain Learning Council. He is considering continued membership on the Barton College Board of Trustees.

“I’m very excited about the change and opportunity but I’m saddened by all the friends I’ve made in Wilson and Rocky Mount,” he said. “It’s a great community. I’m very sad about it but I’m looking forward to the next chapter.”

Darr said he has big shoes to fill as plant manager but looks forward to continued success for Bridgestone Americas’ 2,125 employees working in Wilson. Darr has worked for the company 16 years and previously worked with Williamson at the Bridgestone plant in Aiken, S.C.

“He’s been a great leader in the plant and community and a great mentor,” Darr said. “We’re really going to miss him.

“I’m humbled and honored by the opportunity. I’ve been able to see the plant do great things and hope to continue on that trend.”

Darr joined Bridgestone as part of the Aiken Passenger Radial Tire start-up team, progressing from industrial engineering to area business manager before moving to his current position in Wilson in 2008. Darr has a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from Geneva College and a master’s in business administration from the University of South Carolina.

“Michael has a strong ability to lead complex operations, which will be critical for his new role, as the Wilson facility is our most complex plant in the BAMG organization,” Owens said. “I am confident that Michael’s excellent communication skills and ability to engage others and strengthen teamwork will ensure his success as plant manager.”

During Williamson’s time in Wilson, he has left a lasting impression due to his interest in community service and engaging employees to become more involved, Mayor Bruce Rose said.

“Gary has been heavily involved in our community in several different phases,” Rose said. “The good thing about him is he’s getting the Bridgestone employees involved in our community. We certainly hate to see Gary leave Wilson but, at the same time, we wish him good luck in his new job.”

Rose said he remembers Williamson bagging groceries and helping the poor on more than one occasion.

Judi Thurston, United Way executive director, said that Williamson is a great leader who has inspired many and touched the lives of people all over the county. As the 2013 United Way campaign chairman, he had a true vision of how he could lead the United Way and educate the community about programs available through United Way agencies, Thurston said.

For the past two years, Bridgestone reached record-breaking fundraising goals and the United Way followed suit, with raising its highest level to date.

“Gary leads his team by example and one of his greatest strengths is his enthusiasm for inspiring others to be the best that they can be,” Thurston said. “Gary’s encouragement of others will be remembered by many. We have truly been blessed with a great treasure in our friend Gary Williamson.” | 265-7818

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idclare said...

Same player just a differnt number

Tuesday, August 12, 2014 at 12:19 PM
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