Closure’s impact will go beyond GM plant
SALEM–Three Salem-area companies are listed as automotive suppliers for General Motors, and at least one is not feeling negative effects from the recently announced plan to shutter the Lordstown plant.
There is also a chance the plant could remain open to produce a different vehicle, according to Ohio senators who met with the GM chief executive officer Wednesday.
According to the Team NEO database, Salem-area companies listed as automotive suppliers include Colfor Manufacturing in Malvern, Compco Quaker Manufacturing in Salem and Ventra Salem, a division of Flex-N-Gate in Detroit.
Vince Bevacqua, the corporate director of communications for Compco Industries, which operates three area facilities including Compco Quaker Manufacturing in Salem, said, “There has been no impact on Compco Quaker, where we are operating normally and expect to continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
“There is also no impact on staffing. In fact, we are actively hiring right now. We would like to add to our excellent team.”
Inquiries to Ventra Salem and Colfor Manufacturing were not returned.
On Nov. 26 GM said it will close the Lordstown facility, laying off the remaining 1,600 workers where the Chevy Cruze has been built since 2010. That brings the total of jobs lost to 4,300 at the Lordstown plant in the last two years, when General Motors stops production on March 1 after 52 years.
Approximately 200 people from Columbiana County are employed at the plant, according to former Lordstown spokesperson Tom Mock. He said Mahoning and Trumbull counties rank ahead of Columbiana County in the number of workers while western Pennsylvania followed.
U.S. senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) met with GM CEO Mary Barra Wednesday, and Brown said they will “continue to fight to get a decision quicker rather than later on putting in… whether it’s electric vehicles or some other Chevy Blazer or something else… In the plant.”
Portman said GM announced it expected to “build 20 new electric vehicles in the next five years, 20 new models.”
“We want one or more of those models to be built in Lordstown, Ohio. That’s where it belongs,” Portman said.
He added, “This is the commitment that we’ve received so far: one as Senator Brown said, there are ongoing negotiations, I think there’s a September or fall deadline for the UAW contract. Both of us want to be sure that both the company and UAW expedite that as much as possible to get to a decision so there is less uncertainty. [Barra] agreed that was a potential opportunity. Also, she has said to us that she is going to keep an open mind but does not want to raise expectations.”
John Colm, president and executive director of Manufacturing Works in Cleveland, said the real impact is closer to 43,000 total jobs lost across the industrial midwest, but mostly in Ohio.
All sectors of the economy will be hit, Colm said–the direct jobs at GM, both factory and salaried positions; jobs in retail, wholesale and entertainment; transportation, finance and real estate, public administration and others as well.
“And the impact isn’t limited just to Lordstown, or even Ohio, although clearly Lordstown is ground zero,” he said.
He called the closing announcement “the coup de grace coming on the Monday after Thanksgiving.”
The estimated rippling out from the 4,300 jobs lost at the plant will be the following: Over $368 million in lost direct wages; 301 retailers at risk of closure due to the loss of $63.5 million in retail sales, along with the loss of 1,900 jobs; over 27,00 total non-manufacturing jobs lost; nearly 4,400 families affected; 2,750 total lost jobs that depended on the 4,300 GM factory jobs; and over 7,000 jobs lost, mostly in the Lordstown region.
And what could be coming was on his mind as Colm noted the difference in the number of components needed to assemble electric cars, like the Tesla, in comparison to gasoline and diesel powered vehicles that dominate automaking today.
The first car to roll off the Lordstown assembly line was in April of 1966. In the last two years, faltering Cruze sales against a strong Sports Utility Vehicle market and lower gas prices forced GM to end Lordstown’s third shift in 2017 and drop to one shift last June.