DEARBORN - In today’s world, changing companies is an everyday reality for many in the workforce. Few can imagine dedicating fifty or even sixty years of their lifetime working with just one organization.
Dearborn Stamping Plant (DSP) is home to Willie Fulton, who is one extraordinary person. Fulton is celebrating his 60th anniversary with Ford Motor Company on July 15. He holds the highest active seniority among hourly and salaried employees within the United States at Ford.
“I’m still shaking, I can’t believe it,” Fulton said. “Ford Motor Company is the best company to work for because it’s a family company. If it wasn’t, I wouldn’t have stayed for this long.”
Fulton started with Ford in 1953 at Dearborn Foundry and Michigan Casting, later transferring to DSP in 1982. He started out as a machine operator making $1.58 an hour at Dearborn Foundry, which was considered to be high pay at the time. Fulton now works on the 242-243 line at DSP that produces the Rear Crew Doors for the Ford F-150. He plays a key role on the team, as he's responsible for inspecting the doors for defects before they are prepared for shipment to Kansas City Assembly Plant.
During his 60 years of service, Fulton has seen the dramatic historical transition within the industry from entirely manpowered lines to the robotic automation of today’s production lines.
“I’ve seen a lot of changes in this company. When I came to work there was no automation, it was all muscle. Now there are a lot of machines,” he said.
Fulton has worked on several of the Ford products including the Ford Thunderbird, station wagon, tractor, Ford Escort, Ford Mustang, Ford Focus and the F-150. His favorite current product is the F-150.
“I have a Lincoln MKZ, but I like the F-150 truck. It’s the No.1 truck. Ford also has some good cars,” he said.
The first Ford vehicle Fulton owned was a Ford Fairlane, which he wishes he still had because, “It would’ve been an antique!”
As a highly revered and inspirational member of the DSP team, he speaks to all new employees during their orientation. Fulton believes in training employees to do the job right in order to promote safety, improve quality and drive efficiency.
“It’s important to train employees to do the job right to improve quality. Safety is No.1. Gloves, ear plugs, Kevlar sleeves and no gym shoes. The best way to pick up parts is to have a good grip. You must come to work on time and have good performance too. If you do a good job and your performance is good, you can bid on a job,” notes Fulton.
He has no plans to retire because he still feels good. Fulton attributes his good physical health to a routine that keeps him motivated and moving.
“If I retire, I’ll have to hold another job or get involved with the kids at my church,” he said.
Fulton has seven children, twelve grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.