- Chrysler Group CEO and UAW President host production celebration attended by community leaders and employees
- Slated to close in 2010, the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant rises from the ashes with nearly $1 billion in investments
- New paint and body shops transform plant into flexible, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility
- Additions increase plant’s footprint by 2 million square feet
Joined by UAW President Bob King, Marchionne told the audience, which included Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel, Sterling Heights Mayor Richard Notte, other community leaders and employees, that the plant is an example of how far the Company has come since June 2009.
“The revitalization of SHAP is an apt symbol of how far Chrysler has come because of the courage and resilience of our people,” said Marchionne. “This plant was scheduled to close by the end of 2010. But the workers and the leaders of this community refused to accept this verdict as final.”
SHAP’s story is one of rags to riches. In June 2009, as a new company emerged, it was announced that the plant would close in December 2010. Community leaders and employees rallied together to rewrite the plant’s fate. Those efforts were rewarded with a decision in March 2010 to repurchase the plant, thereby extending production through 2012. An announcement in July 2010 that SHAP would remain open indefinitely and add a second shift of production (about 900 jobs) in the first quarter of 2011 gave new life to the facility and its employees. Later that year, Chrysler Group confirmed that with continued growing demand and new product on the horizon, it would invest nearly $850 million to construct an all-new, state-of-the-art paint shop, as well as install new machinery, tooling and material-handling equipment. A second investment of $165 million for a new body shop was announced in October 2011.
“This celebration has been a long time coming for the workforce here at Sterling Heights,” said King. “They have proven that American autoworkers lead the world in building quality products. What has been achieved here is a testament to the collaborative spirit that exists between the UAW and Chrysler.”
With the two new facilities, the plant is now one of the most flexible and state-of-the-art in the Company with nearly five million square feet of manufacturing space. As a result, SHAP is now capable of building multiple vehicles on two unique architectures.
With the launch of the Chrysler 200, SHAP has been able to add another 800 jobs as a result of in-sourcing of several critical processes, the additional content of the all-new 200 and the implementation of World Class Manufacturing (WCM). Total employment at SHAP has grown to nearly 2,800, more than double what it was in 2009.
“We are here today because so many of you believed that the only difference between the possible and the impossible is that the impossible has never been done before,” Marchionne told the employees. “At the end of the day, our decision to invest in SHAP came down to the level of commitment shown by each of you that works here. You have demonstrated a passion to deliver great products for our customers.”
SHAP employees have embraced the “I Believe” theme, creating an internal communications campaign that resonates in everything they do. The production celebration event opened with a performance by the plant’s “I Believe” Choir and closed with a recitation of the “I Believe” pledge. Posters, water bottles and t-shirts reinforce the message of optimism throughout the shop floor.
Acknowledging not only the efforts of the community and its leaders who stood by the plant during tough times, Marchionne applauded the employees for their focus and dedication.
“Your resolve has set an inspiring example for everyone at Chrysler, showing what can happen when you find the strength and courage to fight for something worthwhile,” he said. “I’m proud to be associated with you, and to be on this exciting journey with you. A journey of continued growth that will secure jobs and make a positive contribution to the communities where we live and work. I, too, am a believer.”
Since June 2009, Chrysler Group has announced investments of nearly $5.2 billion and added almost 13,400 hourly employees.