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Silver Mack

by David Zatz on

The venerable Mack Avenue engine plant, once seen as a sure candidate for parking-lot status, has been awarded a silver World Class Manufacturing award by FCA, just 15 months after its bronze award.

mack engine

Mack is the fifth FCA plant in North America to earn the silver; the others are Windsor (minivan assembly), Dundee (engines), Toledo (Jeeps), and Saltillo South Engine. Windsor has been silver for three years.

The older part of the Mack Avenue plant (Mack I, or Old Mack) was built in 1916 by the Michigan Stamping company; Briggs Manufacturing bought the company in 1920, and sold it to Chrysler  in 1953. Chrysler shut it down in the crisis of 1979; Detroit bought it in 1982, expecting to re-sell it, but could not. Under EPA orders, Chrysler started cleaning the toxic site in 1990. A newer plant on the site, “New Mack” or “Mack II,” started building Vipers in 1992.

$930 million and a few years later, the only part of the new Mack plant was the structural steel; it then made engines in a much healthier environment. By 2002, Chrysler had spent $1.65 billion to rebuild the plants into state-of-the-art facilities, with air conditioning, natural lighting, spill containment systems, water-re-use, and other improvements. Together, they have 1.4 million square feet of space.

The plants also seemed to be doomed as Chrysler failed under Cerberus; but gained a new lease on life, making both engines and parts.

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