LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Several years ago there were fears it would shut down. Today, in terms of employment, it is the largest Ford plant in North America.
The strong sales of the newly designed Ford Escape has the Louisville Assembly Plant on Fern Valley Road working at full capacity. "It really makes us feel good about our future," says LAP manager John Savona. "We are building vehicles that customers want."
Savona was reacting to the best ever September sales numbers for the Ford Escape, more than 23,000 sold last month. The Escape is on track to break last year's record annual sales.
"Many months of hard work converting this facility to build the all new Escape," adds Savona, "and the customers are rewarding us with the purchase of our vehicles."
Steve Stone, a union representative from the United Auto Workers Local 862, agrees with Savona. "We have worked together to put out a vehicle that is outstanding," says Stone," and it is gratifying that the public thinks the same thing."
The plant is operating at maximum capacity to meet the current demand and is at peak employment.
There are currently 4,600 salaried and hourly workers at LAP. It is an around the clock, seven day a week operation.
Workers who once worried if they would even have a job here, are now working extra hours. "We have three independent crews or shifts working a lot of overtime to meet customer demand," explains Savona, "and that is going to continue through the end of the year and into the first quarter of next year at a minimum."
The strong September sales numbers of the Escape were not impacted by the three voluntary recalls that Ford issued on the vehicle this past summer. "We had a small number of vehicles in the field in customers's hands when we pulled the recall," says Savona, "so although we know it is an inconvenience for our customers, our number one priority is top quality and we wanted to get to those vehicles quickly."
Ford is still saying that additional models could be manufactured at LAP is its so called modern and state of the art flexible assembly line makes it one of the most modern auto plants in the world.
"We are not ready to announce anything," says Savona, but we are certainly are working on things for future products that can go along with the Escape we are currently producing here."
Savona says for now there are no plans to hire any additional workers except in cases of replacing current workers who may retire or move on for some reason.
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