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'The Factory': a documentary


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#1 Cheater

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Posted 26 March 2018 - 12:25 PM

This partially student-produced documentary of a company in Ionia, MI, will initially not seem to have any automotive content, but stick with it, as it will.

The best feature is a decent number of production line pictures of woodie wagons, Corvettes, Shebly Mustangs, and other cars that I can't recall seeing before. Lots of interviews with former workers.

One humorous aspect of the video is the several ads shown of the later all-metal 'woodies' that have little to do with the true woodies the company made earlier. There are also a few minor factual errors; for example, I don't believe the company ever assembled Shelby Cobras, only Shelby Mustangs.

The video is a little depressing, as it is a prime illustration of the loss of decent manufacturing jobs in the US, especially in smaller towns.


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#2 Bob Kurkowski

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Posted 26 March 2018 - 05:44 PM

Greg,
 
Great story. Thank you for posting this because I got to see firsthand how people feel and react when a company like Ionia closes.
 
I experienced the closing and the auctioning of the Cleveland Twist Drill Co. in Cleveland, OH, which was once one of the greatest tool makers in the world. I was fortunate to be working for two longtime former Cleveland employees still in the cutting tool industry who had worked in every facet of the company from grinding tools, to heat treating, on up to engineering at the highest level and the history lesson I received about Cleveland as we viewed the auction parcels was one of the most memorable things I have ever experienced.
 
We were in the plant for close to five days before and during the auction and I was introduced to many of the former employees who had come down for one last look, many who had spent their entire lifetime there. To hear the stories and see the smiles on there faces as they told you of the plants good times and the bad was unforgettable.
 
The story of Cleveland, though not as diverse product wise as Ionia, was much the same as it was a place where pride together with innovation thrived and where generations of families could find work and make a good living and everyone called each other a friend.
 
To personally witness the endless rows and rows of machinery sitting idle on oil-soaked wooden flooring, to seeing the cloudy haze from smoke on the windows of the main shop down to the salts on the floors in heat treating gave you a very sad sense that some of the greatest times in America's industrial history were gone forever. 
 
Although the Cleveland building is still standing and repurposed for warehousing most of the machinery that propelled Cleveland to the top of its field was destined to be nothing more then scrap after the auction.
 
Bob K.


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