Editor’s Note: On May 21, Executive Chairman Bill Ford addressed media and employees during the visit of President Donald Trump to the company’s Rawsonville plant. Click here to view his remarks.
RAWSONVILLE, Mich. - To acknowledge Ford’s response to the nation’s call for much-needed ventilators and medical supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic, President Donald Trump visited the Rawsonville Components Plant Thursday afternoon.
“The hard-working patriots here have made America proud and made Ford proud,” Trump told workers inside the sprawling plant. “Ventilators are a very complicated piece of equipment, very complex. One month ago, Ford didn’t build a single ventilator. Now you’re a world leader.”
Behind the president, the hum of the 1.7-million-square-foot Rawsonville plant continued as workers pressed ahead with the production of ventilators, as well as vehicle components such as hybrid battery packs, air induction systems, ignition coils, carbon canisters, air/fuel spacers and fuel pumps.
Before taking the stage, Executive Chairman Bill Ford and President and CEO Jim Hackett welcomed Trump to the facility where Bill Ford encouraged the president to wear a mask. The president wore a mask during a private viewing of three Ford GTs from over the years. Bill and Jim next led a walking tour that highlighted the company’s work in building personal protective equipment for front-line workers.
In addition to the 50,000 ventilators Ford expects to build by mid-July, the company’s other plants also have manufactured PPE such as 32,000 powered air-purifying respirators,13 million face masks and more than 17 million face shields. Additionally, Ford is manufacturing isolation gowns and collection kits for coronavirus tests for first responders.
Ford, the most American automaker, employs more hourly workers in the U.S. than any other automaker and invests more in the country, which is why at a moment’s notice, the company was able to shift gears and put its unique manufacturing expertise to work producing lifesaving medical gear and equipment.
“Normally at this plant we assemble components and hybrid batteries for Ford cars and trucks,” Bill told the crowd before introducing Trump. “But for the past six weeks, our employees have been assembling machines that save lives. Ford has always been a family business. But it’s not just my family. Generations of Ford employees have punched in every day, in plants like this one, building for America.”
Two Rawsonville employees joined Trump on stage as he addressed the crowd. Keith Pastrino, electrician, Gary Brabant, quality technician, as well as Adrian Price, director, Global Core Engineering for Vehicle Manufacturing, all took turns at the podium sharing their experiences in helping the effort.
“When I first heard the news that my plant was building ventilators, it only took me a minute to decide that this was my opportunity to serve my country,” Keith said. “It’s been an absolute honor.”
That sentiment was echoed throughout the building.
“It’s just incredible how fast we were able to pull this off,” said Patrick Lott, supply chain manager, as he detailed the newly constructed “clean-room” portion of the plant where the ventilators are built. “From the time we got word that we were building ventilators to the time we started producing them was about 30 days. Just incredible can-do spirit here, and it’s a real honor to be a part of it.”
Long-time Rawsonville employee Jason Porter gave credit to his coworkers, many of whom have acquired new skill sets, to mass produce the ventilators. The units, which run on compressed oxygen and do not require electricity, are comprised of about 550 parts – “all packed inside a unit that’s about the size of a toaster,” Porter said.
Back on the main stage Trump agreed.
“Every single one of these ventilators is made in the USA, with American heart, American hands and American pride,” he said. “Pretty soon you’ll be building one new ventilator every single minute. Thanks to you we’ll stockpile 100,000 new ventilators over the next few months. I consider Ford to be a national treasure.”