How GM’s latest factory closures will impact businesses in the Dayton area

Local suppliers taking stock after automaker’s bombshell announcement


General Motors employs around 53,000 fewer Ohioans today than it did 20 years ago but the automaker has maintained strong ties to this region even as it plans to close another factory in the Buckeye State.

But with that connection comes vulnerability. A trio of local GM suppliers — DMAX and Fuyao Glass America in Moraine and Tenneco in Kettering — have more than 3,000 employees combined. Navistar in Springfield has a truck-producing partnership with GM, and MAHLE Behr in Dayton, with about 1,600 employees, supplies North American automakers.

The Tenneco plant off Woodman Drive — a plant which in October announced plans to expand, adding 300 jobs as part of a $61.5 million investment — has supplied ride control components to a variety of models, including the Chevrolet Volt, a vehicle that was a casualty in the manufacturing realignment GM announced Monday.

READ MORE: 5 quick facts about GM’s history in Dayton

GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck factory produces the Volt, an electric car with a backup engine — and that plant is slated for probable closure.

In all, five GM plants are slated for closure, including a plant in Oshawa Ontario, with more than 14,000 jobs nationally directly threatened.

A spokesman for Tenneco, Mike Alzamora, released a statement Tuesday saying the company’s Kettering plant supplies parts to GM’s Oshawa and Detroit-Hamtramck facilities.

“However, we expect the impact of GM’s restructuring on our Kettering facility to be minimal,” the statement said.

Alzamora said the Kettering plant today not does not supply ride control parts to the Lordstown plant.

According to Tenneco’s 2016 annual report, GM is the company’s biggest customer, accounting for 17 percent of Tenneco’s business

A spokeswoman for the city of Kettering, Stacy Schweikhart, said city government had not heard from Tenneco.

“We have no reason to think that there’s going to be an impact,” she said.

READ MORE: GM to idle Lordstown plant in Ohio

But at least some suppliers across Ohio almost certainly will feel an impact, said Kristi Tanner, a managing director at JobsOhio, the state’s private economic development corporation.

The Lordstown plant produced about 130,000 Cruze vehicles last year, she said.

“That’s not a small number,” Tanner said. “There certainly will be an impact on those suppliers who supply that facility.”

Over the years, the Kettering Tenneco plant supplied shock absorbers and struts for models such as Chevrolet Camaro, Cruze, HHR and Volt, as well as the Buick Regal and LaCrosse.

GM is a 60 percent co-owner in the Dryden Road DMAX truck engine plant, which employs nearly 800 people. A GM spokeswoman said Monday GM’s decisions will not affect DMAX.

 “We are still assessing what the full impact of the GM closures will mean for our Dayton-area facilities,” Carl Kennebrew, president of the IUE-CWA union, which represents workers at Tenneco and DMAX, said in a statement. “Fortunately our preliminary view is that the impact on our jobs will be minimal.

“We are extremely disappointed to hear that GM has decided to close the GM facility in Lordstown. Our members have faced plant closures so we know exactly what the UAW workers in Lordstown are experiencing right now -- we stand with them in this difficult time,” Kennebrew added. 

READ MORE: All of them were wrong’: What happened to the massive revenue Ohio’s casinos were projected to generate?

Jim Clark, retired president of the IUE-CWA, deferred to Kennebrew. But Clark believes Tenneco is more diversified these days in its array of customers, which now include BMW among others.

“The news coming out of there is good,” Clark said, referring to Tenneco.

Fuyao, a Chinese owned company, supplies safety auto glass sets to nearly all domestic automakers.

A Fuyao spokeswoman declined to comment. That company employs about 2,300 workers in the drastically reshaped shell of the former GM-Moraine SUV assembly plant, a plant that was producing the Chevrolet TrailBlazer when GM shut it down in December 2008.

Mike Davis, development director for the city of Moraine, said leaders of Fuyao are taking stock of the situation.

“Even with their (Fuyao’s) growth, I inquired, as this popped into my mind as well,” Davis said. “They (Fuyao) will know after they do more diligence and collect data.”

Davis said he believes DMAX is doing well and that no impact there will be “noticeable.”

A message seeking comment was also sent to a human resources officer at the MAHLE Behr plant in Dayton, which supplies thermal control components to domestic automakers.

An important sector

JobsOhio’s Tanner said she and others with JobsOhio spoke with GM officials Sunday, before GM announced its plans. By that point, though, the decision had been made.

“It wasn’t a matter of incentives,” Tanner said.

The realignment GM announced is wide-ranging and affects much more than just Lordstown and the Cruze, Tanner noted. But she said at this point, there is no product GM can allocate to the Lordstown plant.

“It is not a permanent closure at this point — the permanent disposition of the facility won’t be determined until some point in the future,” Tanner said.

The automotive sector is still important to Ohio. The industry has more than 108,000 Ohio workers and contributes about $14.5 billion to the state economy.

And the sector is widespread — about 80 of Ohio’s 88 counties have some kind of auto manufacturing business.

GM will have about 5,000 employees in the state when the Lordstown plant closes, less than half of Honda’s approximately 13,000 employees.

The loss of the GM plant in Lordstown will not have as big of an impact on Ohio as it might have 10 or 20 years ago, said Jim Zahora, chairman of the board of the Dayton Region Manufacturers Association and a leader at GemCity Engineering.

In 1995, General Motors employed more than 63,000 people in Ohio but as of 2017, that number had declined to fewer than 10,000, according to the Ohio Development Services Agency.

“It is a bummer. But, they can, as Dayton has shown, they can recover from this and start working on the future,” Zahora said. “It is a blow to that region but they will survive.”

The region, Zahora said, has tried to diversify its manufacturing industry so closures, don’t have as big of an impact. Though there are auto parts makers in the area, Zahora said the region’s shift toward a diversity of manufacturing industries is key.

“We’ve diversified in manufacturing so we’re not as reliant on the automotive industry,” Zahora said. “Putting all your eggs in one basket is a risky way to run a business and it’s a risky way to run a state.”



Reader Comments


Next Up in Business

City buys riverfront land for new ‘entertainment district’
City buys riverfront land for new ‘entertainment district’

Another piece in a long-planned “entertainment district” along the Great Miami River appears to have fallen in place. Property records are showing that the city of West Carrollton has bought riverfront property along Marina Drive for the potential district. The city picked up about a half-acre of former auto dealership property at 5649...
Tech firm wins $100K to work on AFRL data
Tech firm wins $100K to work on AFRL data

A Miamisburg technology firm, Ignyte Assurance Platform —which last summer changed its name from MAFAZO LLC — has received Ohio Third Frontier funding to work with the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) , based at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. The company was awarded $100,000 to develop and integrate cybersecurity technology from the...
Tech firm to move into renovated historic downtown  building
Tech firm to move into renovated historic downtown  building

A start-up software company has been identified as the first tenant in a new Woodard Development project. The cyber-physical software company Tangram Flex will occupy nearly 7,000 square feet of the fifth floor of the building located at 607 E Third St. beginning in April 2019. MORE: Why optimism has fled the auto industry The company is expected...
Why optimism has fled the auto industry
Why optimism has fled the auto industry

Auto dealers today are no longer optimistic about market conditions, a new survey has found. The Q4 2018 Cox Automotive Dealer Sentiment Index takes measure of how U.S. auto dealers, both franchised and independent, are feeling about the auto business and vehicle sales. The survey was taken between Oct. 24 and Nov. 6, 2018, with questions focused on...
Dayton Air Show leader inducted into national hall of fame
Dayton Air Show leader inducted into national hall of fame

Dayton Air Show Executive Director Terry Grevious has been inducted into the National Air Show Hall of Fame. Grevious was inducted into the hall of fame over the weekend at the International Council of Air Shows Annual Conference in Las Vegas. He has spent more than 40 years in the air show industry, managing the Flint Bishop Air Show, Muskegon Air...
More Stories