Last week's announcement that Volvo will invest $100 million so Mack Trucks Hagerstown plant can to build engines for all the Volvo heavy trucks sold in North America was most welcome. Not only does it preserve the local plant's 1,200 jobs, but it also confirms again that these workers are capable of world-class production.
The decision was by no means automatic. In September of last year, Volvo announced a plan to consolidate its support functions to eliminate duplication between Volvo Trucks North America and Mack Trucks, Inc.
At the time, Volvo officials said they would close the Mack plant in Winnsboro, S.C. by 2003, in part because the market for heavy trucks had fallen from 170,00 units per year from a high of 309,000 in 1999.
Mack's three plants were operating at only 30 percent of their capacity then and Volvo announced that it had to close Winnsboro because of a depressed market that showed "few signs of near-term recovery."