Matthew Busch / Bloomberg

Though diminished, GM’s success still impacts Dayton

Key suppliers work for U.S. automakers

General Motors — which co-owns an engine plant in Moraine and is a customer of key local auto parts plants — saw net revenue of $166.4 billion in 2016, a strong 9.2 percent jump over 2015, enjoying record sales along the way.

About 52,000 GM U.S. hourly employees will receive up to a maximum profit sharing payout of $12,000, the company said.

“By almost any measure, 2016 was a great year for our business and I am confident we can achieve even stronger results,” Mary Barra, GM chief executive and chairman, said in a statement. “We’ll work to build on our momentum, while continuing to drive our company to innovate and shape the future of mobility.”

The automaker also reported fourth quarter 2016 record revenue of $43.9 billion, up nearly 11 percent. It said it sold a record 10 million vehicles globally, up 1.2 percent from 2015,

Though GM doesn’t have the presence it once had in Southwestern Ohio, neither is it an afterthought.

About 12 years ago, there were at least seven GM plants in the immediate Dayton area, with about 9,400 workers total. Most of those people worked in five Delphi plants and the former SUV assembly plant that Fuyao Glass America now calls home.

Today, those Delphi plants are closed. But the region still has strong links to GM.

The fastest growing manufacturer in the Dayton area, Fuyao, supplies auto glass to GM and other North American automakers with about 2,000 workers in Moraine.

And GM has a 60 percent stake in DMAX in Moraine, which makes the Duramax diesel truck engines and employs more than 600 people.

Other area companies supply GM, such as Tenneco in Kettering and Navistar in Springfield.

Julie Sullivan, Dayton Development Coalition vice president of development, agreed that GM remains a big part of the local economy, at least indirectly.

In the coalition’s 12-county footprint, there are nearly 20,000 people who still work in automotive manufacturing.

“We may not have a (GM) assembly plant, but the network of suppliers who still exist and continue to thrive, that’s one of the bigger opportunities in this region,” Sullivan said.

According to federal data, as of December 2016, there were just over 40,000 total workers in all manufacturing in the Dayton metropolitan statistical area, which includes Montgomery, Greene, Miami and Preble counties.

The region has machine tool shops and others that benefit from GM’s success, companies that may also act as suppliers to Honda, which alone has 13,000 workers in Central and Western Ohio, said Richard Stock, director of the University of Dayton Business Research Group.

“There are still a set of workers that rely on transportation manufacturing, the auto sector,” Stock said.

But he added:”The magnitude is substantially less than it was 20 years ago.”

William Ragle, Cedarville University associate finance professor, agreed that GM remains important.

“There are a lot of suppliers in the area, who produce a lot of job opportunities for folks,” Ragle said.

Auto suppliers have their own role in a regional economy. “That’s one of the mainstays of the automotive industry,” Ragle said.

And the health of America automakers can also be something of a barometer of the nation’s economic health, he said.

But that can be a double-edged sword, he warned.

“As an economic indicator, it would be suggesting that things are going well,” he said. “But it is so closely tied to the economy, if the economy stumbles at all, it could impact GM … they travel hand in hand.”

Tenneco has proposed doubling its Kettering workforce, creating 483 full-time jobs in a plant off Woodman Drive, with $15.8 million in new payroll. Although company spokespeople have declined to comment, local officials are hoping to hear some final decision from Tenneco on those plans.

And last June, Navistar in Springfield said it will add 300 jobs in a second recent deal with GM. That agreement called for Navistar workers to build a cutaway model of GM’s G Van beginning early next year.

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