FLAT ROCK, Mich. - The excitement was unmistakable Thursday as the
first U.S.-built Ford Fusions rolled off the line at Ford’s Flat Rock
Assembly Plant (FRAP), the culmination of a year in planning, $555
million worth of investment and several months’ worth of training 1,400
“The real driver behind today’s celebration is demand,” said Joe
Hinrichs, president, The Americas. “Adding production here at Flat Rock
has increased our manufacturing capacity for Fusion by about 30 percent,
which is much needed based on how much our customers love this car.”
Since 2005, the Flat Rock facility has built Mustangs of all trim
levels. But surging demand for Fusion in the U.S. spurred new investment
and hiring at the Flat Rock site. Statistics show the company sold
21,000 more Fusions in the first six months of 2013 than it did during
the same period one year ago. This growth represents a 13 percent
increase in demand from 2012 to 2013. Expanding production to FRAP
increases Fusion availability by more than 30 percent, allowing Ford to
produce up to 350,000 units annually.
“With its bold design and great fuel economy, Fusion has exceeded all
of our expectations with demand outstripping supply,” said Hinrichs.
“Fusion in Flat Rock is a win for all of our stakeholders – customers,
employees and dealers. At the same time, Ford is continuing its massive
investment in America by creating another 1,400 jobs.”
Ford plans to hire a total of 12,000 hourly employees in the U.S. by
2015. With the addition of the 1,400 new hourly workers in Flat Rock,
Ford has already hired 75 percent of the 12,000, more than 6,000 of the
new hires occurring in 2013 alone.
Samuel Crawford, who inspects Ford Mustang Shelby’s in their final
phase of assembly, has worked at FRAP site for 26 years. Crawford
remembers telling his teachers when he was a child he wanted to build
Mustangs when he grew up. He has achieved his goal, but is equally
excited about adding the Fusion to the line. “We are excited about this
Fusion, everybody loves it, it brings a little chill to your body when
you see this car coming down the line,” Crawford said.
As a seasoned veteran of assembly line work, Crawford said it has
been a bit of a challenge getting the 1,400 new hires up to speed, but
that everyone has been willing to help and the teamwork has been strong.
One new hire, Ann Marie Vanderlinden, a pre-delivery inspector, said
trainers and co-workers like Crawford have been extremely welcoming and
helpful. “The first day was a little intimidating,” Vanderlinden
admitted, “But everyone here is great. They are all here to help you and
you can ask any question and they will assist you.”
nden is not only new to Ford, but new to the manufacturing
industry as well. After losing her job of 19 years in the audio-visual
industry to downsizing, Vanderlinden was thrilled to hear Ford was
hiring. After passing preliminary employment testing, Vanderlinden
waited to hear more. “Then I got a call saying I made it past the first
stage and then another call requesting my email address. After that I
received the letter telling me when to show up. I was so excited.”
To help prepare new hires for the rigors and cadence of working on
the line, FRAP introduced a simulated-factory to provide hands-on
training without slowing down the actual assembly line. This type of
real-world experience also helps to reduce attrition and improve quality
of manufacturing as well as the safety of the work environment.
“What that (simulated assembly line) does is, instead of them walking
in that door and never having been in this kind of atmosphere or never
having assembled a vehicle, they get hands-on experience beforehand and
then they know what it’s like so they are more comfortable,” Hounshell
said. “It takes the nervousness out of that first day.”
Other improvements to the facility in preparation for Fusion include
the addition of a fully flexible body shop, which allows multiple models
to be produced on the same line, upgrades to the paint shop to allow a
three-wet paint process and the addition of laser brazing – a form of
welding that helps attach Fusion’s roof to its body with a high-quality,
aesthetically pleasing se
Hinrichs added, “All of these significant upgrades and improvements
have transformed the Flat Rock Assembly Plant into an absolute showcase
example of what an innovative, world-class Ford manufacturing facility
can be. Congratulations!”
Jimmy Settles, vice president, UAW, also was on hand to congratulate the team.
Settles credited the wisdom of Ford Motor Company for having
committed to this project and explained just how significant the move to
bring Fusion production to the U.S. has been.
“For those that may or may not know it, I understand there are quite a
few new people, this is a very historic day,” Settles said. “This is
the first time we’ve been able to build the same vehicle in the U.S.
that is also being built off shore.”
He also reminded the joyous crowd that the emotions in the plant were quite different just a short time ago.
“For those who were not here in 2010 and 2011, this very location was
on the chopping block,” Settles said. “We didn’t even know if it was
going to stay open and look at it now!”
MSNBC's Morning Joe at Ford's Flat Rock Assembly Plant
MSNBC’s Morning Joe, hosted by Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, is going on the road with the theme Jump Starting Detroit for
the day. The show did a live broadcastfrom Ford’s Flat Rock Assembly
Plant (FRAP) in Flat Rock, Mich. - Click on the below links for to watch
clips from the broadcast. *Note: You must be inside the Ford firewall
to access the clips.