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Re: One Story Assembly Plant What If?
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2008/2/29 14:47
From Waterford MI
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Quote:

phsnkw wrote:
That plant looked to be a city block long and was not one-storied. At least it was three or four storied.


You're probably right - I don't remember if James Ward's book mentions whether Conner Ave. was 1-story or not. I'm going to have to review it - I don't recall the reasons for the Conner move now...

But I agree - why not use E. Grand? I'm sure Ward touched on that as well...

Posted on: 2010/10/1 8:51
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Re: One Story Assembly Plant What If?
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2009/3/13 6:09
From Garner, NC 27529
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Look at picture #46 from "Packard Factory Exterior" in the photo archives. Briggs manufacturing plant on Conner Avenue.

Posted on: 2010/10/1 11:06
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Re: One Story Assembly Plant What If?
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2007/11/18 9:02
From Dalton, NY
Posts: 856
Hi

Thanks for all your responses, interesting reading.

The interactable inertia within management precluded any swift action when an opportunity did present itself. Nance seemed to be groping out a direction in the first years of his tenure. The idea of production in a one-story facility took root in that time. It was clear by this time that more efficient, lower cost production was easier to achieve in that type of facility. The old multi-story concept had saddled most auto companies with outdated facilities by then.

As I recall, Connor Avenue fit the bill, for the most part. The confluence of events begun by Walter Briggs' passing, the family wanting out of the body business, Chrysler their dominant customer just steam-rolled Packard into leasing a facility to build their own bodies, at last. It was the least felicitous circumstance for management to deal with.

Still, the lack of square footage should have prevented them from cramming everything into that crackbox, with all the attendant drawback it would create.

The objective of a new one-story factory appended to the Utica facility for 1960 was the ideal. Bridging that period with the existing set-up i.e. Connor for body production and East Grand for final assembly until then would have prevented so many of the problems that beset them in those unfortunate days.

Steve

Posted on: 2010/10/2 6:58
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Re: One Story Assembly Plant What If?
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2007/1/10 19:12
From Deee-troit
Posts: 1019
Connor was a single story plant with a partial second floor located at the front (Connor ave.) side. Assembly of seat frames took place in the upper floor during Packard production there.
It looked somewhat like a four story building but had very high ceilings inside.
Steve--good responses, spot on. Chrysler originally intended on operating Briggs for the independent customers, at least until they found out the P/L side of it, then they changed their minds. Packard could have moved all of the equipment back to EGB, but there was some problem over who owned what (from what I read once)much of the equipment was purchased by Packard in the 120-110 expansion days, was sent to Briggs to be used there and there was no solid record of these events, this many years later, and Chrysler felt that they belonged to them and the easiest thing to do was to lease the facility from Chrysler and stay out of court over what may have been a decision made between Alvan Macauley and Walter Briggs over lunch at the DAC and no paperwork was created.
Nance did not set out to kill packard, but that was an opinion shared by many old-timers who weren't used to much changing, and Nance changed a lot in a short period of time. I have a friend who is now about 90, he holds fast to that opinion, and I leave it at that when discussing Packard with him.

Posted on: 2010/10/2 7:12
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Re: One Story Assembly Plant What If?
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From Dalton, NY
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Hi John

Thanks for the insights about the plant equipment, it makes sense those type of deals took place between principals in those days. That is an insight only a man with insider connections would have, great to have it shared.

Do you have any information about how long the EGB dual assembly lines were employed? One would think that would have been the prefect set-up to separate the middle-priced from the luxury model production given the differential in labor content to create each.

Nance certainly had the long-term objectives of survival and revival for Packard. Unhappily, his lack of auto industry experience caused him to assume everything could be done at once to correct the problems he found. And he seemed to operate as if Packard had an endless bottom to its finances to execute those needed changes. Drain the money, kill the company.

Steve

PS: P/L?

Posted on: 2010/10/2 7:52
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Re: One Story Assembly Plant What If?
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2006/4/17 11:22
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PS: P/L?


Profit and Loss

Posted on: 2010/10/2 11:03
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Re: One Story Assembly Plant What If?
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2009/4/10 19:10
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Posts: 90
The 1953 or 1954 Annual Report shows Packards and Packard Clippers coming down the dual assembly line.

Posted on: 2010/10/2 13:48
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Re: One Story Assembly Plant What If?
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5/14 7:31:14
From Canton, MI
Posts: 221
What if Packard bought Willow Run indeed.

Probably the short answer is Packard didn't have the $25M that GM paid for Willow Run.

Right then, Nance was looking at the development and tooling costs for the V8, which could not be delayed any longer, and the torsion bar suspension. He wanted to do an entire restyle for 55, but no money, so settled for a refresh.

Walter Briggs Sr died in January 52. The word had to be on the street by June 53 that the company was for sale. It would be a huge gamble for Packard management to assume that whoever bought Briggs would be willing to continue to supply Packard.

Kaiser lost it's Air Force contract, which was reportedly 65% of it's business, on June 24 of 53. Kaiser's autoworkers were on strike at the same time. Kaiser had bought Willys in the spring of 53 and was already considering consolidating production in Toledo. The door was open for Packard for about 6 weeks.

On August 12th, the Hydramatic plant in Livonia burned to the ground. Edgar Kaiser called GM to see if they would like to rent/buy some/all of Willow Run, and the door slammed shut for Packard.

In October, Chrysler bought Briggs and told Packard they had to the end of the 54 model year to make other arrangements for body supply.

Reportedly Nance wanted to buy the Conner plant, but no money, so had to lease it from Chrysler.

The only way Willow Run would have worked would be if Packard had been able to lease or get a mortgage on the plant to address their cash flow bind, then move everything but the engine/trans machining and assembly in.

Then, when Hydramatic burned, sell the new Utica plant to Hydramatic. Utica was only 780,000sqft, vs Hydramatic's 1.5Msqft, but I bet they would have jumped on it. The J-47 program was being cut to only 25 engines a month by October 53, and Charlie Wilson probably would have jumped at the chance to buy out the J-47 contract to make the plant available to GM.

Then Packard could have left engine, trans and axle production, which Willow Run did not have facilities for, at EGB. The logistics of getting the parts to Willow Run would have been a snap as the one freeway in the state went from downtown Detroit, to Willow Run. By 57, the freeway was open past EGB. Getting parts from Utica to Conner must have been a bear, nothing but local streets all the way.

Then, do proper DD on Studebaker, break off talks and wait until Studebaker went bankrupt, which probably would have happened in 55. Then buy the rights to the Studebaker name and move Studie production to Willow Run, leaving behind Studie's high pay rates, unfunded pension liability, ancient plants and debt.

Instead of trying to establish Clipper as a stand alone brand, build the Packard Executive series on the shorter Clipper platform, as they did, but rebrand the Clipper as a Studebaker, because the Studebaker name had the recognition that Clipper did not, and returning Studie in the market segment it had been in before the war.

The problem with that scenario is Studie dealers would not like losing the Champion as it was half their sales, but there is no way a car that cheap could be made from Packard parts.

But the entire scenario hangs on Packard getting it's hands on the money to buy Willow Run in that sweltering summer of 53.

Posted on: 5/14 14:15:39
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Re: One Story Assembly Plant What If?
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2008/8/16 11:01
From The Motor City, Baby!
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I think one of the benefits Packard saw at the time of the conversion Utica to engine and transmission production was that it would allow them to install the all-new machinery, virtually none of which would work on the older in-line engines, and yet would not disturb the ongoing production of engines for the 1953-1954 models.

One reason that I don't see selling Utica to GM as a viable option is that you would be giving the auto industry's 800 pound gorilla a front row seat that fronted right on your sole development and testing facility. Oops... I don't think Nance or Graves would ever let that happen.

Posted on: 5/14 14:42:08
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Re: One Story Assembly Plant What If?
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I don't see any inherent defect in a multi-story manufacturing plant. Single level plants are cheaper to build and tear down. The Packard plant had no rail access, was surrounded by urban residential, and was limited in capacity. And of course Packard stopped building bodies there. So eventually a new plant somewhere would be required for the business plan.

Conner was a terrible compromise but better than a lot of the plants today with their caving in roofs, overflowing toilets, broken furnaces, flooded parking lots, and burned out lights and wall sockets. Not to mention sinking floors.

I don't see these companies continuing so the Packard plant is academic.

Posted on: 5/14 17:10:06
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