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Detroit Auto Industry: Reckoning to Revival

Moving the Assembly Line Outside

Richard Owusu

Like the captain of a sinking ship, Richard Owusu was still at the bridge a month after Chrysler declared bankruptcy and closed his factory, Jefferson North. As the plant manager looked out the expansive windows of his second-floor office in June 2009, he was disturbed. The tree-lined promenade that led to the plant's gazebo-style entrance had become wild and overgrown. Weeds and grass obscured the plant's tall, whitewashed walls. Jefferson North -- once a source of strength and beacon of hope for Chrysler and Detroit -- looked abandoned.

Something had to be done. So on a Friday afternoon, the bald and compact plant manager called a meeting of the small crew that remained inside the shuttered factory -- about 50 people, mostly managers with a few hourly workers.

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