Genuine Pride, Milestone Numbers

General Motors’ Fort Wayne Assembly plant has built its 10 millionth vehicle, giving credit to its dedicated employees throughout the plant’s 37-year existence.
Oct 2, 2023
Heather Herron

Earlier this spring, Matthew Hubbard got quite the surprise. As the fourth-generation owner of a General Motors dealership in the small northwest Indiana town of Monticello, he found out that a GMC Sierra he’d just sold wasn’t your average vehicle coming out of the Fort Wayne Truck Assembly Plant. “We had no idea,” he recalls. “Our factory rep called us and said, ‘Hey, you guys have sold a truck that’s scheduled to be the 10 millionth one built.’”

It’s a milestone that UAW Local 2209 Shop Chairman Rich LeTourneau was especially excited about. He came to the Fort Wayne plant within a year of its opening in 1986 and since then has seen a variety of vehicles roll off the line during his tenure.

“Ten million is just a mind-boggling number, especially when you think about doing that in just a little over 35 years,” LeTourneau stresses. “Now we’re a three-shift operation running five and six days a week, and we’re running at a very high line rate compared to our peers. It’s a pace that makes us the fastest-working GM plant in the country.”

“This achievement is a testament to the legacy of the talented team of men and women who not only work in Fort Wayne, but who live here and raise their families here. They graciously volunteer their time, treasure and talents to make this a better place to live. The impact this Fort Wayne team has in the community goes far beyond the trucks we build,” adds Assistant Plant Manager Cherry Weiland, who recently retired from the facility.

In June, General Motors hosted a celebration as the white 2023 Sierra was finished. On hand for the event were two dozen of the employees who were part of building the very first pickup at the plant 37 years ago, on Dec. 8, 1986. 

“That’s when you get goosebumps. There’s so much pride from the folks that have been here since the beginning, since the plant opened, and have seen us through a lot of good times and bad,” LeTourneau says. “The pride on their face — you can’t replace it. Lots of smiles, lots of whooping and hollering. Those were actually a lot of friends of mine. We all came from the same plant in Janesville, Wisconsin. It was awesome to see the excitement on their faces, knowing that they’ve been here since the inception.”

“It’s always nice when you can bring in a dealer so they can see how things come together. It puts things in perspective when they can see how the build works and just how staggering it is to see one drop off the line every minute,” he continues. “It was a great day. It was a little emotional, too.”

“It was a really neat experience,” echoes Hubbard. “For us here at the dealership, we don’t get to see the factory side of things. We get the vehicle after it’s produced, so actually being in the plant and seeing the people building the vehicle was special. They are so invested in the product they produce. To see the employees in Fort Wayne and their enthusiasm was pretty awesome.”

As if the 10 millionth vehicle milestone wasn’t reason enough to celebrate, just a few days later GM made a big announcement in Fort Wayne. The company is investing $632 million into the assembly plant for production of the next-generation internal combustion engine. Weiland says it’s meaningful in many ways. 

“For Fort Wayne, it secures a future where we’ll build another truck that will look a little bit more updated and newer than the one we’re building today. There are a lot of retooling costs to do a different body style. It requires different equipment in our body shop to weld things differently, so that’s where the majority of the investment will go,” she says.

LeTourneau says news of the investment is reassuring to those who are employed there. Not only does it recognize the hard work the employees do on a daily basis, but it also reiterates the company’s commitment to the next several decades.

“It eases the minds of the people I represent. It secures the future for about 4,000 people, and it secures the future of the community and the merchants around it,” says LeTourneau. “The total impact reaches far more than just what we are from an employment perspective. It’s also what we put back into the community economically. We have nine plants that supply this plant and that would directly affect all of them if we didn’t have a future investment.

This secures that future for them and for generations to come.” 

General Motors' Fort Wayne Assembly Plant

Address: 12200 Lafayette Center Road, Roanoke, Indiana 46783

Phone: (260) 673-2345


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