Chuck Padden is the Plant Manager at the Toledo Assembly Complex.
It’s the time of the year that most parents dread and most kids look forward to with anticipation – graduation season.
Like millions of parents around the country who will soon send their children on to the next stage of their lives, the family at the Toledo Assembly Complex said good bye this week to our “baby” – the Jeep® Cherokee. Even though our child is a bit unique with four wheels and a Trail Rated personality, we have cared for and nurtured it like one of our own since its birth on June 24, 2013. So we too have been dreading this day, the day that our “baby” leaves home and begins the next chapter in its life. Lucky for us, the Cherokee is welcomed with open arms from folks we call family in our Belvidere, Ill., facility. While hard to say good bye, we are full of pride at having played a role in the success of this extremely popular, award-winning off-road vehicle and its nearly 950,000 “siblings” that have rolled off our assembly line.
But this moment was bittersweet. Yes, we are sad to see the Cherokee go, but excited for what lies ahead. We will soon be part of another birth – the birth of the next generation Jeep Wrangler, a vehicle with a long history here in Toledo. With a $700 million investment, work has already begun to prepare the Toledo North plant to build this new vehicle and will continue in earnest now that Cherokee production has come to an end.
Like every parent, we will look back on the past four years fondly, remembering all that we have accomplished and how the Cherokee brought new life to our Toledo family. We now hand the keys over to familiar faces in Belvidere and watch as our “baby” takes to the road under the watchful eye of its new guardians.