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THE NEW GM: Bay City PowerTrain Manager Joe Mazzeo Profiles Firm Goals

October 14, 2012       Leave a Comment
By: Dave Rogers

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The old General Motors goes back to 1916 in Bay City.

That was when the predecessor of the local plant made bicycles and wooden pipe, at least until GM founder Billy Durant came to town and made a deal with the legendary Henry B. Smith family.

The New GM soars into the future as far as the eye can see.

"The new GM is in a strong position to compete," say company leaders like Joe Mazzeo, plant manager at Bay City PowerTrain where the firm has invested $154 million since 2009, creating or retaining 174 jobs.

Mr. Mazzeo, stressing the meeting theme "manufacturing is the livelihood of the country," expounded the company's vision at a recent Bay Area Chamber of Commerce "Bay Area On The Go" event at the DoubleTree Hotel - Bay City Riverfront:

"Along with our joint venture partners, GM holds the leading position in the BRIC markets -- Brazil, Russia, India and China --which collectively present the biggest opportunity for growth over the next five years. North America presents additional growth potential as it continues to recover from the economic crisis."

In 2007 the City of Bay City wisely granted GM a 50 year 100 percent personal property tax abatement, resulting in the huge investment and job growth. Since that time employment has risen steadily to 410, including 316 hourly workers, described by Mr. Mazzeo as "an outstanding workforce."

"Sixty percent of our employees live in Bay County and major tool and equipment suppliers to the plant are from Bay, Saginaw and Genesee counties," said Mr. Mazzeo.

Last year the local plant which has 1 million square feet made 19.05 million parts and this year the total is projected to rise to 20 million because of stronger demand.

The plant makes parts for the Malibu, Sonic, Volt, Silverado, Corvette, Camaro and the new Impala, among other vehicles, said Mr. Mazzeo.

GM's main business principles are followed, involving quality first, speed, best practices, communication, flexibility and inter-buildability. "We actively engage the workforce in a new way," he said. "In the old days every plant manager was King, bringing inefficiency, fiefdoms and other problems."

Now all plant managers follow the same methods and are interchangeable, they can build each other's products, he said. "The old history was getting the metal out and worrying about quality later: build, inspect, sort. Now there is a major change in thinking." This reduces warranty costs.

Plants run entirely by robots will never happen, said Mr. Mazzeo, adding "we need the right balance based on people. the idea is to use people more efficiently because the plant manager is only as good as the people on the floor."

The described the production methods of the New GM as "a lean manufacturing system, eliminating waste and providing support for the operators. Operations are done jointly with the union, creating collective success."

Hourly team leaders run day-to-day operations, he said, and a quarter of the workforce is capable of teaching others how to do the job. He even runs a machine himself to see how the operation may be improved.

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Dave Rogers

Dave Rogers is a former editorial writer for the Bay City Times and a widely read,
respected journalist/writer in and around Bay City.
(Contact Dave Via Email at

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