LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - One of the area's largest employers celebrated a milestone Wednesday with Subaru of Indiana Automotive (SIA) producing its 4 millionth vehicle.
Jeff Shannon was one of hundreds of SIA associates who cheered as the company unveiled the vehicle. Shannon started testing to get a job with SIA in 1987, before the building known as SIA was even built. He said a lot has changed over the years.
"Equipment, vehicles, everything they do, the way they do everything, management, everything. It gets better as we go on," said Shannon.
Slightly more than 4,000 vehicles were produced that first year in 1989 when the company started production in Lafayette. But that number has certainly grown. Last year, SIA made more than 250,000 at the plant.
Executive Vice President Tom Easterday said the production of the 4 millionth vehicle represents how hard the associates have worked throughout the years. He said it also signifies the company's role in the community.
"Be it from civic activities and charitable activities or the taxes we've paid over the years, millions of dollars to support libraries and schools and things. Also, all the suppliers from this area, all the people that have provided services to SIA," said Easterday.
Recently the demand for Subarus hasn't been able to keep up with production. Sales are up 27 percent for the first seven months of this year.
Easterday said the company is trying meet the demand and two future expansions will help. One is a $75 million expansion slated for next year and a $400 million investment slated for 2016 that will add 900 jobs.
"We're trying to meet that demand in the market by virtue of expansion. We've also had a lot of overtime we've worked, and we'll continue to look at some other possibilities to try and beat that market demand," said Easterday.
And even though Shannon plans to retire next year and won't see much of the future expansions, he said it's been a good ride.
"I like working here. It's a pretty nice place, it's been a good job," Shannon added.
SIA produced its 3 millionth vehicle almost four years ago in Sept. 2009. Easterday said, if everything goes according to plan, it will probably take about the same amount of time to get to the 5 millionth.
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