If the recent news of a temporary manufacturing suspension at GM’s Fairfax Assembly plant outside of Kansas City put a damper on your spirits, you should read the following speech by General Motors Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson.
The chief executive delivered the speech on Monday, January 28 as part of GM’s announcement of the $600 million investment to expand and upgrade the plant. Coincidentally, production at the plant has since been put on hold (from Feb. 6 through Feb. 17) in an effort to keep the supply of the Chevrolet Malibu and Buick LaCrosse in check with market demand. But if nothing else, reading the following should heighten your spirits:
Good afternoon! It is truly an honor to be here with you today.
I can feel the excitement in the air: Only eight more weeks until the NFL draft!
(The Chiefs own the No. 1 pick after a 2-14 record; they hired former Eagles coach Andy Reid in mid-January)
I hope you don’t feel too bad about the Chiefs’ recent performance. It’s not like you’re Lions ’ fans.
The Detroit Lions have never been to a Super Bowl and the last time they won an NFL championship, GM was building the Pontiac Catalina here and Elvis was topping the charts with “Jailhouse Rock” and “All Shook Up.”
As I said, it is an honor to be here with you because Fairfax has been part of the fabric of GM and the Kansas City area since before most – if not all – of us were born.
Over the course of 68 years, more than 12 million vehicles have been built here at Fairfax… including some iconic Buicks and Chevrolets.
And along the way, we became the region’s largest manufacturing employer, with 4,000 hourly and salaried employees on the job.
There have been lean times too.
And four years ago we went through hell.
But with your commitment, and the support of a lot of people on the stage with me today, we have done more than just survive.
Together, we set our sights on winning….not just competing.
We have been systematic and relentless in pursuit of that goal .
And the plan is working. GM has come roaring back!
We are building the best vehicles in our history.
Some 70 percent of the vehicles we sell in the United States will be redesigned or all new by the end of the year.
We have strung together 11 highly profitable quarters in a row for the first time in more than a decade….
And we have announced investments of more $7.3 billion in the United States since 2009, and created or retained more than 21,600 jobs.
But that’s just the beginning… and I don’t want to keep anyone in suspense any longer.
Today, we are announcing investments in Fairfax totaling $600 million!
That $600 million represents one of the largest plant investments in the history of General Motors…
And it brings our total investment in Fairfax to more than $2.5 billion over the last decade.
This is a vote of confidence in you!
When construction wraps up in two years, this plant’s footprint is going to grow more than 15 percent to 3.7 million square feet.
We will also build a new 450,000 square-foot state-of the-art paint shop that will deliver a flawless finish and optimal corrosion protection…but consume dramatically less energy and water.
We’re estimating 50 percent reduction in energy use per vehicle.
We are also going to install a new stamping press… and make numerous other upgrades.
When we’re done… you can say with pride that you work in one of the crown jewels of GM’s global manufacturing system.
It’s all for one purpose: To build the best vehicles in the world.
At this time, I’d like to recognize some of the people who paved the way for today’s great news, starting with plant manager Bill Kulhanek… UAW Local 31 President George Ruiz… and UAW National Vice President Joe Ashton.
These leaders know that we are in a commercial war with companies like Volkswagen and Hyundai.
And every day they prove that there is no opportunity we can’t seize…and no problem we can’t solve…by working together.
Teamwork truly gives us a clear competitive advantage.
Two facts prove my point.
First: The Chevrolet Malibu was the highest-ranked midsize car in the 2012 J.D. Power Initial Quality Study.
That helps keep incentives low and resale values high.
And second: The 2012 Malibu has the lowest warranty expense per vehicle we have ever seen for the carline in recent memory.
You helped make this happen — all of you together! And it benefits the entire GM family.
Great quality flows straight to the bottom line and frees up cash we can invest in more new products… better equipment… profit sharing and much more.
That’s winning. So please, give yourselves a well-earned round of applause.
Of course, success doesn’t stem solely from our own hard work.
It also takes elected leaders who are committed to keeping manufacturing in Kansas…and in the country as a whole… globally competitive.
People like Congressman Kevin Yoder… Mayor Joe Reardon… and Governor Sam Brownback.
Gentlemen, we are honored to have you here with us today.
We deeply appreciate all of the support you have given us.
Over the many years, our partnership has grown stronger, and it is our goal to continue this path for many years to come.
In closing, I’d like to share just a few final insights about the path we’re on.
If we execute our plans flawlessly, before long, GM will become the world’s most valuable automotive company.
We will be globally recognized as a great place to work…
And we will have the most loyal and enthusiastic owner-advocates in the industry.
That’s how we’ll keep the momentum going… make truly GM great once again.
Let’s make this our legacy. It will be an unmatched in the history of General Motors.
Thank you. Now it is my pleasure to introduce Governor Sam Brownback, of the great state of Kansas.
The GM Authority Take
We’re really fond of the upbeat nature of Akerson’s speech, especially in light of the recent (temporary) cessation in manufacturing operations at the plant.
It’s inspiring and motivating to see The General invest in its manufacturing facilities for the long-term — while making improvements to the Chevy Malibu and Buick LaCrosse in the short term to drum-up near-term demand.