An interview with Mauro Pino, Toledo plant manager from 2010 to 2011 and currently VP of LATAM Manufacturing
Il nuovo Jeep Wrangler 2018 ha fatto il suo debutto il 29 novembre al Los Angeles Motor Show, scelta azzeccata da parte del gruppo FCA che com’è ovvio vuole dare la precedenza alla produzione puntando su un importantantissimo investimento di $ 700 milioni e 700 nuove assunzioni nello stabilimento di Toledo, Ohio per preparare l’impianto per l’incremento della produzione della nuova generazione di Jeep Wrangler. Per saperne di più sulla nuova versione di questo iconico veicolo e sull’importanza dell’impatto economico nell’intera regione, la Gazzetta Italiana ha intervistato l’ingegner Mauro Pino, ex direttore dell’impianto di Toledo ed attualmente Vice Presidente della manifattura per l’America Latina.
Italian American automaker Fiat Chrysler Automobiles officially introduced the redesigned version of the iconic Jeep Wrangler sport-utility vehicle at the Los Angeles Auto Show on Nov. 29. Like its predecessors, the 2018 model of the rugged SUV with an iconic place in American military lore will still be made at the company’s plant in Toledo, OH, a move that could help the vehicle retain its title on Cars.com’s 2017 list of most made-in-America vehicles. Indeed, the Wrangler is the Jeep brand. It is the model which all other Jeeps are measured against. The automaker is expected to build about 350,000 next-generation Wranglers annually following a $700 million investment to retool the Toledo plant, reconfigure factory lines and guarantee 700 new hirings. This bold move is allowing the company to boost production from a maximum of 240,000 to 350,000 vehicles per year. Production should begin within the first quarter of 2018. To discuss the significance of this ambitious project that will undoubtedly bring a positive economic impact to both Toledo, and the surrounding areas, I had the pleasure of interviewing Mauro Pino, Toledo Plant Manager/Head of Manufacturing between April 2010 and December 2011 and currently VP of LATAM Manufacturing. In April of 2011, he was a panelist at “Italy and the Midwest: Business Perspectives,” an event organized by the Cleveland Council on World Affairs in collaboration with the Consulate of Italy in Detroit, the City of Cleveland and NOIA Foundation to highlight the importance of business connections between Italy and the Midwest. H.E. Giulio Terzi di Sant’Agata, then Ambassador of Italy to the U.S., was also in attendance.
La Gazzetta Italiana (LGI): Mauro, thank you for the opportunity to chat. It would be nearly impossible to overstate how important the Jeep Wrangler truly is both for FCA and the city of Toledo. You must be very proud of the total transformation undergone by the Toledo plant that started with you back in 2010 and that is now allowing FCA to continue manufacturing the Wrangler at the same plant while also remarkably increasing production.
Muaro Pino (MP): Thank you, Serena. Indeed, I am, on several fronts. Everybody knows Jeep Wrangler is a “Made in Toledo” car. It always has been since WWII and it always will be. Wrangler has always been a huge contributor to Jeep and to the company as a whole. It is in strong demand internationally. Jeep is a global brand and Wrangler is a global player. This iconic best-in-class, off-road SUV is an integral part of the identity of the city of Toledo. Many of the plant’s workers are third or fourth generation blue collars workers and they are proud of being part of such a special bond. These are the reasons why FCA decided that the All New Jeep Wrangler will continue to be produced at the plant. To accomplish this goal, a huge restructuring project of the Toledo Assembly Complex is currently underway which organically stems from the initial complete transformation I was able to implement during my two years as Plant Manager/Head of Manufacturing.
LGI: Is a highly skilled local workforce a critical component of the Toledo plant success story and its positive impact also at a regional level?
MP: Ohio workers understand how important a qualified job certification is to produce a car that is sold in more countries than Ferrari are. To this end, the plant’s current management teamed up with the University of Toledo College of Business and Innovation to prepare more than 2,200 workers to build the new Jeep. This comprehensive training and launch readiness program is known as the “Toledo Way,” and it is focused on expanding the employees’ knowledge of and competence in FCA “World-Class Manufacturing” methodology that aims at eliminating waste while improving quality and safety in a systematic and organized way. Massive training and many repetitions of every single operation are the keys of this timeless success. For her part, UT President Sharon L. Garber commented this way: “The University of Toledo is proud of this excellent partnership with FCA that enhances our collective efforts to strengthen our community…Working together, two of Toledo’s anchor institutions continue to contribute as major forces to the region’s growth and development. People make the difference and we are providing these hard-working men and women high-level training to succeed for their families and for our region.”
Wrangler’s unparalleled role as a money-maker for Fiat Chrysler is mirrored by its even bigger impact in northwest Ohio’s economy. “It is really a big deal, economically, for the city of Toledo,” said Bill Burkett, the city’s economic development commissioner and one of the people involved in the discussions with the automaker to keep Wrangler production in Toledo.
LGI: What can you tell the readers about the redesigned Jeep Wrangler?
MP: Despite having a familiar visual impact, it really is a completely new car. The entire external body is completely redesigned to allow for an improved air penetration index. The doors are aluminum made. The external mirrors are reduced in size. Engines and transmissions have a new software set. All these improvements mean a lower fuel consumption. The interiors are also completely new and the entertainment central console is perfectly aligned with the best application in premium cars.
LGI: Sounds wonderful. As a huge Jeep fan, myself, I am thrilled to hear that the 2018 model will be possibly even cooler looking (hard to imagine!) and better performing than the previous ones.
MP: It certainly remains the best 4x4 off-road car as it has always been and its Rubicon version is the best off-road car on the planet, period!
LGI: You are the expert and if you say so the readers will certainly have something to think about next time they go car shopping!
MP: No doubt about it. The completely New 2018 Jeep Wrangler will surely conquer the world from Toledo, OH. Something to be very proud of.