Jamestown Industries Prepares for Next-Gen Cruze

AUSTINTOWN Township, Ohio – Its operations are tucked away behind a large building along North Meridian Road, but Jamestown Industries Inc.’s work is clearly visible on roadways, highways, parking lots and driveways all across the country.

Indeed, wherever a Chevy Cruze travels any road in the United States, it’s a good bet that this business helped put it there.

“We supply the Lordstown assembly plant with the front and rear bumper covers, or fascia,” says Sylvester Townsend, president of Jamestown Industries. “We bring them in from the manufacturer, assemble them, inspect them, prepare them and then ship them out directly to the plant.”

Inside this 100,000 square-foot warehouse on the corner of North Meridian and Crum roads, lift trucks scurry about the plant floor as drivers pick parts stacked and inventoried. The company has leased space at the site since 2001 when it first won a contract from General Motors to supply the front and rear fascia for the Chevrolet Cavalier, built at Lordstown at the time.

Jamestown has since made the transitions to keep its business in step with the Lordstown plant by providing parts for the Chevrolet Cobalt and the Cruze. Now, the company’s operations are preparing for the next-generation Cruze, set to begin production next year.

“We’re working on the next generation. That should start in January, which should give us another three- or four-year run of this production,” Townsend says.

“The transition is going very well,” adds the plant’s manager, Clark Babb. “We’re ready for the non-sellable build runs.”

The company, founded by Townsend’s parents in 1984, is headquartered in Dayton. At first, the company provided spring components for the Chevrolet Corvette.

Townsend says the decision to move to Austintown in 2001 came as an outgrowth of a similar operation the company ran in Dayton, where it supplied GM’s Moraine plant. That plant shut down in 2008, which forced Jamestown to close its operations there.

Austintown is today the Jamestown’s sole warehousing and assembly plant. “This operation’s great,” Townsend says. “It was tough getting through 2009 and 2010, like most companies, but we were able to and we’re now back to normal at full production.”

Jamestown employs 62 at the plant. Front and rear bumpers are shipped from the manufacturer, Norplas Exteriors in Toledo. Then, every part is placed in sequence to match the production schedule of the Lordstown plant.

Those schedules are broadcast directly to Jamestown eight hours before the component is to be installed, so the sequencing and assembly teams can precisely match the appropriate front and rear bumpers with the model earmarked for production.

Every part is perfectly choreographed based on the assembly process at Lordstown, Babb explains. That means when the components are delivered to Lordstown and the assembly stations, the line worker merely picks the part from the rack as a particular model moves through the assembly line.

It’s critical that the part match the model at the workstation. “For the rear parts, there are four different designs,” the plant manager says. “For the fronts, there are six different designs. The Cruze also comes in 10 colors.”

Demand for the Cruze is strong, Babb says, noting Jamestown Industries is running three shifts 24/7. “They’re producing 1,260 vehicles a day, so we’ve got to sequence 2,520 fascia,” he says.

The Jamestown operation also performs light assembly mostly on the front fascia, Babb adds. Depending on the model, the component may require an additional grill fitting or fog lamps. Moreover, the famous Chevrolet bow-tie insignia is affixed to all grills that move through the plant.

Once the components are finished, they are tested and inspected to ensure all of the added parts are in working order and the piece is properly sequenced.

“Every part has a label, and we have to make sure every part passes continuity,” Babb says. A final scan on the part is performed to make sure that all of the proper added content has been installed.

“It ensures that every part is in the proper sequence,” he explains.

The components are then placed onto racks that lift trucks are move to the shipping bay. “Every hour, we have trucks coming in” to pick up product and deliver it to Lordstown. Once delivered, the finished parts sit in inventory no longer than two hours before they’re added to a vehicle.

“Instead of GM having to warehouse this product at their location, we condense an hour’s work down into three racks,” Townsend adds. “It saves them on floor space. It’s much more efficient for them.”

Pictured: Sylvester Townsend is president of Jamestown Industries Inc.

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‘3 Minutes With’ Sylvester Townsend

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.