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Issue 1262 June 27, 2011
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Lynn Stamiris, city commissioner, checks the power source of the new Chevy electric Volt. (MyBayCity Photo by Dave Rogers)

"New GM" Showcased for Crowds at Bay City PowerTrain Plant

Employment Here Expected to Rise Above 400 by December as Firm Revives

June 24, 2011       Leave a Comment
By: Dave Rogers

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There sure is a new GM, and the historic 90-year-old Bay City PowerTrain plant is a good example of the firm's renewed vitality.

As crowds estimated to total about 2,000 in the nine hour open house on Thursday thronged the one million square foot plant, the buzz was palpable.

Half the floor space is now utilized and plant officials see expansion of employment to a total of about 420 by December. A longterm future now is being projected for this plant in production of engine parts for trucks and Corvettes as well as small fuel-efficient cars.

Enthusiastic employees who have totally bought into the new spirit dashed about keeping visitors moving and informed. The energy-charged atmosphere was a far cry from the old days when union-management hostility was evident in many auto plants.

Community excitement may have been equaled when the former National Bicycle Company and Michigan Pipe Company was acquired from the local firm headed by Henry B. Smith by GM Founder Billy Durant and race car driver Louis Chevrolet in 1918.

City Commissioner Lynn Stamiris, a retired engineer from Delphi Corp.(now Nexteer), was impressed by the Chevy Volt for which parts are being built in Bay City.

The extended range vehicle is the flagship of a growing fleet of high gas mileage cars flowing off GM drawing boards. Others include the Buick Verano and Regal GS, retooled Chevy Camaro and new small Chevy Sonic.

Jim Wiesen chats with Hollie LaRue and Shawn Pruitt of the PowerTrain diversity committee.
(MyBayCity Photo by Dave Rogers)

Tony Kubacki, 67, of Cass City, picks up retirement information.
(MyBayCity Photo by Dave Rogers)
"A lot of improvements have been made to the internal combustion engine," says Joe Mazzeo, plant manager, formerly executive director of global manufacturing quality for the firm, adding: "About 99 percent of the emissions have been reduced."

He sees the Volt as "a real game changer, although many people viewed it as a high risk 'moon shot.'" The Volt has landed, he told the Rotary Club of Bay City recently, noting that all the Volts made so far have been sold and orders for new ones are over-subscribed.

Key community leaders like Mr. Stamiris, Mayor Chris Shannon and Bay Area Chamber of Commerce President Mike Seward were among the visitors viewing exhibits of engines and parts in a tent in the parking lot.

Aides to UAW Local 362 Chairman Todd McDaniel and Mr. Mazzeo handed out four checks for $2,500 each from the GM Foundation to local charities. Recipients were the Bay Area Women's Center, the Bay County Child and Senior Center, Camp Fish Tales and the Boys and Girls Club of Bay County.

The open house ran simultaneously with similar events at 54 U.S. facilities of General Motors, hosted "as a tangible way to thank the American public for their support and to showcase our great employees and the exceptional competitive products that we offer in today's market," said Mr. Mazzeo.

The open houses also are part of a company strategy to "rebuild relations with suppliers, unions, dealers, and, of course, customers," he said.

The overarching goal is to "design, build and sell the world's best vehicles," he asserted. The firm has sold more cars under the pared-down four labels (Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac) than it did under eight previous nameplates.

In the last year the firm has invested in 24 facilities to retain or create 12,000 jobs in the U.S. and Canada. Another $4 billion in investment is contemplated in 17 North American plants, including Bay City.

Terry Kelly, right, Saginaw GM PowerTrain retiree, talks with Bob Rohlfs of Mahar Tool of Saginaw.
(MyBayCity Photo by Dave Rogers)

Bay City GM PowerTrain plant manager Joe Mazzeo, left, presents check to Bill Palmer of the Boys and Girls Club of Bay County.
(MyBayCity Photo by Dave Rogers)

Open house greeters wave in visitors who plant officials estimated to total approximately 2,000.
(MyBayCity Photo by Dave Rogers)

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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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