Located on the Flint River near downtown Flint — in the aptly named Carriage Town neighborhood — parts of the factory date to 1880, when it was built by the Flint Woolen Mills company as a short-lived venture into cotton textiles. In 1886, Durant and Dort leased the then-empty facility to build horse-drawn carriages. The company would become known as the Durant-Dort Carriage Company and one of the world's largest carriage makers. Eventually, Durant would take control of another company – Buick Motor Co. – and leverage his Durant-Dort resources to grow the young automaker into one of the most successful car companies in the country. Durant used Buick's success to build General Motors in 1908 and turned to his friends from Flint's carriage industry to form Chevrolet in 1911. Carriage sales eroded with the rise of the automobile and the Durant-Dort Carriage Factory ceased production in 1917. Dort then formed the Dort Motor Company, which closed in 1924. In the more-than 130 years since Durant and Dort set up shop at Factory One, it housed countless other businesses and was renovated in the 1980s before falling into disrepair. Kirbitz, a GM engineer, automotive historian and Flint native, has been involved in the project since 2012, when GM — and Reuss — first became interested in the building. GM purchased it in 2013 and stabilized it with new, period-accurate windows and doors, as well as a new roofing system, with the goal of preserving and showcasing the original architecture. Contractors replaced 17,000 bricks color-matched to the original, as well as 20 percent of the mortar on the building. The foundation, damaged by flooding and grade changes over time, was repaired and waterproofed. The last phases of the restoration included all-new heating/cooling, electrical, plumbing, state-of-the-art fire-suppression equipment and additional interior renovations. And despite numerous interior renovations over the years, many of vintage architectural elements such as the wooden beams, brick work and more were preserved and restored. GM also provides financial support to the Durant-Dort Carriage Company Foundation to operate and maintain the historic office building, a National Historic Landmark, across the street. GM is also working with the Genesee County Historical Society, which occupies the office, to conduct combined tours of the office and Factory One. In addition, in 2015, GM donated $2 million to Kettering to create a powertrain laboratory and the GM Foundation donated $2 million for the Kettering University GM Mobility Research Center, which includes a 3.25-acre test pad and outdoor lab space to test and develop driverless car systems. To learn more about using the archive or hosting an event at Factory One, visit www.gmfactoryone.com or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The history of Durant-Dort Factory One
General Motors employs about 7,200 hourly and salaried workers in and around Flint, and has invested $2.8 billion since 2009 to upgrade facilities and add or retain jobs. Most recently, GM invested $877 million in a new body shop at Flint Assembly, where a workforce of approximately 3,100, including 2,900 hourly workers represented by UAW Local 598, build Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra trucks. Additionally, GM, the former GM Foundation and the UAW have provided more than $3 million to support community programs for children affected by exposure to lead during the Flint water crisis. Another $1.7 million from employees and GM goes to the United Way and other local charities annually.
GM and Flint
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