Vol. 3, Iss. 2 | October 6, 2009
Letter from the President
In this edition of the Firestone Voice, I'm pleased to report on the progress Firestone Liberia has made in the third quarter of 2009.
Firestone Liberia has launched its Hevea wood operation, a new environmental business investment that will provide even more opportunities for the people of Liberia. Rubber trees that have reached the end of their lifecycle for producing latex — about 28 years — are now being processed into a hardwood used in the manufacture of furniture, flooring, interior finishing and staircases, among other products. We are excited to start building this initiative into a successful, stable source of jobs and opportunity alongside our rubber farm.
Our blog takes note of the remarkable story of Mosoka Fallah, a Liberian graduate student pursuing a Ph.D. in biomedical science at the University of Kentucky. Fallah recently partnered with the International Book Project to donate more than 8,000 textbooks to schools throughout Liberia. Firestone Liberia was thrilled to provide shipping for the books from the United States to Liberia at no cost through our Donation Cargo Program.
While Firestone Liberia has faced challenges in a difficult economic climate, we have not relented in our drive to help rebuild Liberia, as our new mid-year 2009 statistics illustrate. Our rubber tree seedling distribution program recently gave away its 1 millionth free seedling since January 2008 as part of a program to help small, private Liberian rubber farmers rebuild their farms. In addition, Firestone Liberia has now completed more than 1,500 housing units for its employees, and another 197 units are in various stages of progress. In total, the company has now invested some $76.8 million in Liberia since the country's long civil war ended in 2004.
Firestone Liberia remains committed to being a force for progress in Liberia. Thank you for your continued interest in our company and its employees.
Dan Adomitis, President
Firestone Liberia Launches Hevea Wood Operation
As part of a new environmental initiative, Firestone Liberia has begun processing rubber trees that have reached the end of their lifecycle for producing latex — about 28 years — into an ecologically sustainable hardwood called Hevea wood. This new business investment will provide even more opportunities for the people of Liberia.
Commonly known as "Rubberwood," "Parawood," "Asian Beech" or "Malaysian Oak," Hevea wood is used in the manufacture of furniture, hardwood flooring, interior finishing, plywood, paneling, chopping blocks and staircase components. This hardwood is typically pale cream to light brown in color with moderately coarse, straight and even texture.
Previously, once latex production waned, rubber trees were cut down and burned, putting their carbon stores immediately back into the atmosphere. The utilization of Hevea trees for lumber keeps the carbon stores in the wood, thereby preventing the carbon load in the atmosphere from increasing. Then, for each tree we harvest, we replant another seedling in its place.
Currently, Firestone is producing kiln-dried, rough-sawn Hevea wood. Our hope is to make additional investment to begin production of S4S, laminated boards and finger-jointed lengths in the near future. Watch for further announcements in upcoming issues of Firestone Voice.
For more information about our Hevea wood products, please see our product brochure or contact Cliff Bailey (330) 379-7882 (Northern U.S. Sales) or Rod Blalock (706) 625-2627 (Southern U.S. Sales).
Firestone Liberia Honors 245 Students For Academic Excellence
Firestone Liberia School System's top academic performers were honored in July at the academic recognition ceremony for the second semester of the 2008-2009 school year. Nine students received Firestone Liberia School System's highest award, the President and Managing Director Award, while 236 were recipients of the Manager and Superintendent Awards.
The three students with the highest cumulative grade averages for the semester were also given special recognition. Maybel Sackie, Isaac Yarkpawolo and Joe Atto obtained averages of 98 percent, 97.5 percent and 97.4 percent, respectively.
Railey Jallah, the President of the Firestone Liberia Staff Association, and Austin S. Natee, President of the Firestone Agricultural Workers Union of Liberia (FAWUL), presented awards and addressed the students. Company representatives at the ceremony included Wadei Powell, General Services Manager, and Aumuo Abdallah-Keshen, Administrative Manager.
All 26 schools that are part of the Firestone Liberia School System were represented by honorees at the ceremony, which was heavily attended by parents and friends. Firestone Liberia provides free education for more than 16,000 children of employees.
Firestone Students Excel on WAEC Exam
The results are in! An impressive 88.95 percent of Firestone Liberia School System students achieved a passing grade on West African Examination Council (WAEC) standardized exams taken in May. The exams are administered to 6th, 9th and 12th grade students in Liberia, Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Gambia.
The passing rate of students in the Firestone Liberia School System was well above the Liberian national average of 63 percent, illustrating the hard work and diligence of Firestone students and faculty. Credit must also be given to the parents of the students who provide valuable support and guidance.
This is the first year for Firestone High School to participate in the WAEC exams at the 12th grade level. The seniors comprise the first-ever high school graduating class of Firestone Liberia's School System, marking a milestone in the company's mission to provide quality K-12 education at no cost to children of its employees. Graduation festivities and student recognition events will begin on Oct. 1, culminating in a formal commencement ceremony on Oct. 4.
Faces of Firestone — Railey B. Jallah
As Manager of Group 3, Railey B. Jallah supervises eight divisions of tapping operations at Firestone Liberia. Jallah has held the position since July 2009, and says he was drawn to work at Firestone by his "admiration for the company's socio-economic activities."
"The company is making headways that cannot be compared easily with any other institution in the country," he said. "It is the single largest employer and provides, amongst other things, modern houses for its employees, free medicare for employees and their dependents, and free education for employees' children."
Born in Zwedru and raised in Harper and Monrovia, Jallah attended the University of Liberia earning a Bachelor of Science degree in agriculture in 1982. Afterwards, Jallah volunteered at the Liberian Produce Marketing Corporation and assisted with the construction of the Holy Martyrs Catholic Church.
Jallah hopes that his fellow employees appreciate the opportunities offered by Firestone, and sees the various programs contributing to a greater shift in postwar Liberia.
"Doubters should come to Firestone to see the unfolding realities for themselves," he said. "The number of new houses and schools being constructed, the nearly 17,000 students in Firestone schools, the refurbished Duside hospital are just a few of those undertaking that give true meaning to the transformation and new era of partnership and cooperation embarked upon by Firestone Liberia."