Manufacturing Savvy

Can One Plant Manager Sustain a Community?

He can. And his name is Chuck Sibley. He is the manager at two Navistar Diesel engine plants in Huntsville, Alabama.

With a total of 331 workers, the company makes diesel engines for various truck manufacturers.

When faced with laying off workers Chuck's concern for the economic situation of his employees kept him up at night and led him to come up with an alternative. Rather than terminating 50 workers he convinced the parent company to instead keep these employees on the payroll but instead offer their services to the community.

"This is our most productive plant, and it's because of these people," Eric Tech, president of Navistar Engine Group, told People magazine.

Of the 250 assembly line workers, 20% volunteer so all the workers can keep their plant positions, according to a report on

For the past three months the employees built or repaired 79 wheelchair ramps for Care Assurance System for the Aging and Homebound of Madison County, according to the Huntsville Times.

The group also finished most of one Habitat for Humanity home and framed a second. They sorted donated clothes and other inventory at three Salvation Army thrift stores.

And as of April 19 the employees were back on the job at the two Navistar plants at Jetplex Industrial Park next to Huntsville International Airport.

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