"Studebaker Factory Supports 500 Families Living in Border Area: Investment in Canadian Plant Now Totals Over $1,250,00 - Is At Walkerville: Finds Labor Situation Most Satisfactory - Average Wage of Employees $1,750 Annually", Financial Post, October 31, 1929.
[This article was copied from an issue of the Financial Post held in the Western Libraries at the University of Western Ontario. The original article should be consulted since this copy may contain some errors. The text and the image are being made available to researchers for scholarly purposes. They should not be used for commercial gain without the permission of the author or publisher.]
The Border Cities plant of the Studebaker Corporation of Canada is located in Walkerville. Just what the plant means to the Border Cities is best illustrated by means of a few figures. The total investment in Canada by Studebaker is well over $1,250,000, most of which is in the plant in Walkerville. A maximum of nearly 1,000 hands are employed in the factory, at peak periods. This year, the average has been 500 at steady work. Wages paid in 1928 amounted to over 875,000. The dollar-value of payments in Canada for materials and supplies exceeds $700,000 yearly. The Canadian Government, in taxes, receives more than $1,000,000 annually from Studebaker. It means in the summing-up, the addition of 500 families each with an annual purchasing power of $1,750.
The plant at Walkerville has been operated for the past 19 years, only one of its activities being the manufacture of motor cars. During the world war, great quantities of war material was produced for the Canadian and Imperial governments. Today, it manufactures a line of 59 models of six and eight cylinder passenger motor cars, trucks, ambulances, and funeral coaches.
In 1910, the Walkerville plant was acquired by Studebaker through purchase from the E-M-F Motor Company, which also had a plant in Detroit, across the river from its Canadian factory. The Detroit plant was soon moved bodily to the original Studebaker home at South Bend, where the main factory has been located for 77 years.
Has Export Trade
The Walkerville factory now comprises 440,000 square feet of floorspace, and covers more than a block. Cars manufactured here, in addition to supplying the Canadian market, go as far afield as the United Kingdom, Trinidad and South America. The plant operates, on an average, 250 working days a year.
D.R. Grossman, vice-president and managing director of the corporation, when interviewed by "The Financial Post," declared that the Border Cities possessed a number of outstanding advantages as a site for the plant. While some claim that the city is at a distance from the geographical centre of the country, Mr. Grossman pointed out that it was much nearer sources of raw materials, a feature which should not be forgotten when there was a necessity to keep manufacturing costs at a minimum.
Shipping facilities are excellent, both rail and water transportation for domestic and export shipping being available at the Border Cities' waterfront. While his company does not ship finished cars by water, the managing director of Studebaker did see in this form of carriage, an efficient and low-cost medium for the bringing of materials, bought well ahead of the time they were needed, to the plant.
Labor at High Standard
The worry which causes most anxiety to the executives of any large employer of labor, stability of the labor available, does not trouble Studebaker. Mr. Grossman declared that the labor turnover in the Walkerville plant never caused any anxiety. Canadians make up the larger part of the Studebaker's Walkerville family. Canadian labor has been found sober, steady and reliable, and of as high if not higher, a standard of efficiency and craftmanship as anywhere in the world.
In addition to the investment in Canada already mentioned, Studebaker has just completed the addition to its plant of two enamelling ovens, at a cost of $15,000 each. In addition to these, some 160,000 square feet of extra floorspace has been acquired, where an extension of the body plant will be installed. The assembly lines have been arranged to give the enormous expansion of 50 per cent added capacity.
While there has been no spectacular jump in production, the first part of the ensuing year has shown a healthy increase. Due to the introduction of new models in the Erskine line, the unit volume has turned out to be somewhat lower than in the corresponding period of 1928. This falling-off, however, was amply compensated for by the increase of 15 per cent in dollar-volume of the product.
Expansion in Studebaker's present plant is hardly likely, but the industrial area of the Border Cities, with its sweeping advantages in the matter of public utility services, transportation, excellent labor market, and aggressive municipal policies, is being watched closely by the executives of the big motor company. When the business of Studebaker begins to push at the walls of the present factory, a new site will be bought and a new plant erected.