Lawmakers commend Ford for contribution to economic, social, cultural heritage of Ky.
By Lorie Hailey
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Feb. 22, 2013) — Ford Motor Co. today celebrated the 100th anniversary of its Louisville Assembly Plant. The company was presented with resolutions from local and state elected officials, congratulating Ford on its contribution to the “economic, social and cultural heritage” of Louisville and Kentucky.
The Louisville Assembly Plant opened in 1913, with 17 employees making an average of 12 cars a day at a facility on South Third Street.
Today, Ford is Kentucky’s largest automaker, employing more than 8,500 workers in two Louisville plants that produce more than 650,000 vehicles a year. Louisville-made Ford vehicles are exported and sold in more than 140 countries around the globe.
Ford conducted a news conference to commemorate the anniversary at the Kentucky Exposition Center. In attendance were Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson, Congressman John Yarmuth, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, state House Speaker Pro Tem Larry Clark and state Sen. Denise Harper Angel, as well as company officials and local union representatives.
“The House of Representatives joins the Ford Motor Co., its employees, retirees, suppliers, dealers, many customers, automotive enthusiasts and friends in recognizing the company’s wondrous achievements and commemorating and celebrating its 100th anniversary milestone year of manufacturing in Louisville,” the state resolution reads.
It also extends the House of Representatives’ best wishes, saying state leaders expect Ford will continue to grow and prosper in Kentucky, “manufacturing innovative, affordable and environmentally sustainable world-class products for generations to come.”
Ford’s Louisville Assembly Plant Timeline
♦ The first commercial automobile to emerge from the Ford Louisville Assembly Plant in 1913 was the Model T, affectionately known as the “Tin Lizzie,” which could be reconfigured by consumers to move cattle, haul freight, and even herd horses.
♦ The Louisville plant in 1913 sold and serviced the Model T Town Car, Touring Car, and Runabout automobiles its workers produced.
♦ In 1916, Ford moved its Louisville manufacturing operations to a new facility at Third Street and Eastern Parkway, producing up to 70 vehicles a day on an automotive assembly line. The new automotive integrated assembly line changed the old manner of building one car at a time, moving the work to the worker by having parts, components, and assemblers stationed at different intervals, and beginning a new era of industrial progress and growth.
♦ Sales and service of Louisville-made automobiles in 1916 were turned over to independent automobile dealerships, which became the public’s main point of contact with the company.
♦ By government decree, Ford’s Louisville plant was used by the United States Army as a training installation for military mechanics during World War I.
♦ Ford’s Louisville manufacturing operations in 1925 moved into a new 350,000-s.f. facility on the banks of the Ohio River at 1400 South Western Parkway and was deemed “the largest building under one roof in the south.”
♦ Workers at Ford’s Louisville manufacturing facility rolled the last Ford Model T off the assembly line in 1927 and began making the new Ford Model A in 1928.
♦ Consumer demand for more luxury and power pushed aside the current model and began production of a new Ford vehicle with a pioneering V-8 engine in 1932.
♦ One of the largest labor unions in the nation was formed as the United Automobile Workers (UAW) in 1935, and after a rather tumultuous beginning, won acceptance by the automobile industry and became a potent and forceful leader for auto workers, with Ford building a strong relationship with the union through its policies and programs. The United Auto Workers-Committee for Industrial Organization Local 862 was chartered on June 23, 1941, as the first UAW-CIO local in the commonwealth of Kentucky and began representing Ford production workers in Louisville.
♦ By government decree, the Louisville Assembly Plant produced United States Army vehicles from 1942 to 1945 for the World War II war effort.
♦ A revitalized Ford in Louisville met the postwar economic boom with the debut and production of the 1949 Ford, the first vehicle integration of body and fenders, which would set the standard for auto design in the future.
♦ Ford workers at the Louisville Assembly Plant in 1954 produced its 1,500,000th milestone vehicle.
♦ Ford relocated the Louisville Assembly Plant in 1955 to a new 1 million-s.f. manufacturing facility at 2000 Fern Valley Road, with an opening ceremony presided over by Chairman Henry Ford II and Corporate Vice President Robert McNamara.
♦ The workforce of the new Louisville Assembly Plant grew by one thousand employees, growing the Ford UAW Local 862 membership to 2,263 production workers building the Ford Fairlane, Ford Custom, Ranch Wagon, and F-Series pickup truck.
♦ These new production models at the Louisville Assembly Plant were followed by such well-known cars as the retractable hardtop convertible Ford Skyliner, the Ford Edsel and Ford Galaxie.
♦ Louisville Assembly Plant vehicle production continued in the 1960s and 1970s with the Ford LTD and F-Series pickup trucks.
♦ Ford expanded Louisville production capacity in 1969 with the addition of a new manufacturing complex, the Kentucky Truck Plant on Chamberlain Lane, and 3,600 new Ford-UAW production workers. The 2.4 million-s.f. plant in 1969 was the “largest truck production plant in the world under one roof.”
♦ The Kentucky Truck Plant manufactured more than 1 million W-Series heavy trucks, F-Series trucks, and commercial trusts within a decade.
♦ The Louisville Assembly Plant vehicle production continued in the 1980s with the Ford LTD, Ford Bronco, F-Series, Ford Ranger and Ford Bronco II.
♦ Ford innovation continued in the 1990s and 2000s with the introduction of the Louisville-made Ford Explorer, which defined the sports utility vehicle (SUV) segment and became the best-selling SUV in the world.
♦ “Built Ford Tough” F-Series Super Duty work truck, commercial truck, and heavy duty work truck production during the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s expanded capacity volumes at the Kentucky Truck Plant.
♦ Ford ended production of the Ford Explorer at the Louisville Assembly Plant in 2010, retooled and reopened the manufacturing complex with 3,000 production workers in 2012 as the “most flexible automotive assembly operation in the world.”
♦ The Louisville Assembly Plant in 2013 employs more than 4,500 highly skilled Ford UAW workers building the world’s best-selling small SUV, the Ford Escape, at record production volumes.
♦ The Kentucky Truck Plant in 2013 employs more than 4,000 highly skilled Ford UAW workers building the world’s best-selling F-Series Super Duty work truck, commercial trucks, the Ford Expedition and the Lincoln Navigator at production capacity volumes.
Source: Kentucky House of Representatives, House Resolution 100