America's Biggest Companies, Then and Now (1955 to 2010)

9. Goodyear Tire & Rubber
Employees in 1955: 95,727
Employees today: 69,000

The largest tire company in the world in 1955, Goodyear had large plants around the world. As competition from Japanese companies grew, the company went through several restructurings including a move into energy.

10. Firestone Tire & Rubber
Employees in 1955: 90,000
Employees today: N/A

The second largest tire company in the world in 1955, Firestone was at one point the exclusive supplier to Ford. The company was sold to Bridgestone of Japan in 1988.

The Biggest Employers Today

1. Walmart
Employees today: 2,100,000
Employees in 1955: N/A

Walmart was not started until 1962. A local store chain in Arkansas, it expanded across the nation and outflanked rivals founded years earlier using intelligent product sourcing and low prices. Walmart is now the largest company in America.

2. International Business Machines
Employees today: 410,830
Employees in 1955: 46,500

The company was primarily a provider of high end and expensive computing machines. Over a period of 50 years it has added large software, IT consulting, and server businesses to become one of the world’s largest tech companies.

3. United Parcel Service
Employees today: 408,000
Employees in 1955: not on Fortune 500

The global mail and freight carrier used the growing movement to transport packages by air and a huge network of trucks to capture the lion’s share of the industry and effectively helped ruin the profitability of the US Postal Service.

Also Read: The History of What Things Cost In America: 1776 to Today

4. Target
Employees today: 351,000
Employees in 1955: not on Fortune 500

The No.2 US retailer opened its first store at about the same time Wal-Mart did. It has never been able to match its larger rival’s size but has still built a $65 billion a year business.

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