Vol. 2, Iss. 4 | Dec. 19, 2008
Letter from the President
In this, the last Firestone Voice of 2008, I'm pleased to report on a number of milestones our company has reached this year in our mission to help rebuild Liberia after a devastating 14-year civil war.
We kicked off 2008 by signing a new investment agreement with the government of Liberia. In compliance with that agreement, we began operating new Hevea wood and water treatment facilities. We signed a mutually beneficial labor agreement with the union that represents many of our nearly 7,000 employees, and we extended the Donation Cargo Program, which delivers much-needed supplies to the people of Liberia free of costly ocean freight charges. As a fitting close to this incredible year, we announced in December that, after years of renovations, we have reopened the Firestone Medical Center at Duside as an inpatient facility.
None of these goals could have been accomplished without the hard work and dedication of our employees and partners. Thank you to each and every one of them.
As always, please continue to visit our Web site to see the progress Firestone will undoubtedly make in the upcoming year.
Thank you for your continued interest in our company and its employees. Happy holidays!
Dan Adomitis, President
Feb. 22, 2008:
In March, Firestone announced the opening of the first phase of its new Hevea wood operation.
Once rubber trees reach the end of their lifecycle for producing latex, typically around 30 years, they are cut down and transported to the mill. At the mill, the trees are processed into an ecologically friendly, durable hardwood that is often used in furniture, flooring and other value-added products throughout the world.
Firestone has made a significant investment in this facility, and the new Hevea wood operation will create 500 additional jobs in Liberia.
Following collective bargaining negotiations, Firestone and the Firestone Agricultural Workers Union of Liberia signed a new mutually beneficial labor agreement.
Firestone employees, who have long been represented by a union, are among the highest-paid workers in Liberia. The company provides its employees with free housing, health care and education for their children, as well as paid vacation, subsidized food and a retirement pension.
Working with the Liberian EPA and the world's foremost wetlands expert, Firestone constructed a state-of-the-art, multimillion-dollar water treatment facility on its property in Liberia.
Process water from its factory is now treated in equalization and clarification tanks and then routed over a mile to constructed wetlands for final natural, biological treatment. Firestone gathers analytical data and visual samples weekly to confirm excellent water quality leaving the wetlands.
Read more about Firestone's commitment to the environment.
Due to the high volume of requests from numerous charitable organizations wanting to help the people of Liberia, Firestone announced in November that it will extend its Donation Cargo Program through 2009.
Firestone makes cargo space available to qualified charitable organizations and covers the ocean freight expense. Under the program, each Firestone ship en route from Baltimore, Md., to the port of Monrovia in Liberia will reserve space for relief goods and other donated cargo. Firestone accepts containers of non-perishable foods, medical supplies, new and used clothing, schoolbooks and other relief goods and delivers them to Liberia on behalf of the donor charity.
Since its beginnings in 2006, more than 60 shipments have been delivered to the port of Monrovia. Goods valued at more than $2 million have been shipped under the program.
Read the press release about the extension of the program.
Firestone ended 2008 with a ceremony commemorating the reopening of Firestone Medical Center at Duside, which was gutted during the 14-year civil war. The rebuilding and reopening of the hospital represents the fulfillment of one of Firestone's commitments to the nation of Liberia under its investment agreement with the country.
Several VIP guests attended the one-hour ceremony on Dec. 12, including Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and U.S. Ambassador to Liberia Linda Thomas-Greenfield.
The Firestone Medical Center offers a full range of health care services including general surgery, prenatal programs and vaccinations. The building is designed to support 300 beds and includes three operating theaters, a laboratory and a pharmacy.
Firestone partners with UNICEF and the Liberian Ministry of Health to store and administer vaccines that help protect Liberians from a range of diseases. The company provides health care to its employees and their dependents at no charge to them. The facility will also serve the needs of the surrounding community. Firestone medical facilities in Liberia receive approximately 9,000 patient visits a month.
Visit our Web site to read more about the hospital reopening and to view photos of the Dec. 12 event.
After only two years of working for Firestone, Wadei Powell now calls the company her "family." Wadei is the Inventory Control Manager, whose main responsibility is to handle and process all incoming cargo.
Powell says she "did not know much about Firestone as a company except that, as a youngster growing up in Liberia, it was an exciting place to be. I went to school with some kids who lived in Firestone and they were always saying how much fun it was to grow up in Firestone and that Monrovia kids had nothing on them."
She graduated in 1989 from the St. Teresa's Convent School in Monrovia. From there she moved to the United States, where she earned a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Maryland in College Park and a master's degree in information technology systems management, with an emphasis in organization development, from Capitol College in Laurel, Md. She worked for Mellon Financial (now Affiliated Computer Services) before moving back to Liberia.
Even though Powell initially took the job with Firestone because the employment market in Monrovia was limited, she now proudly admits that she has experienced a professional growth that would have taken years to acquire elsewhere. "I have learned so much about the relationships between the private sector and government and this has been made possible by the enabling atmosphere at Firestone," Powell said. "The management style here is unique — you're given wings and it is up to you to expand and fly. You're allowed to delve into and learn as much about the business as you wish — and this is not something you find in a lot of companies."
Powell is the proud mother of two daughters, Tyler McCritty and Maryann Robertson. She believes working at Firestone enables her to make a difference. She encourages and challenges young Liberians residing all around the world to come back home and help in the re-developing of the country.
Read more Faces of Firestone profiles on our Web site.