General Motors CEO Mary Barra and members of her board of directors spent five hours touring the GM Arlington plant last week as the board considers a possible $1.2 billion expansion of the plant.
The plant, which builds full-size SUVs, is one of GM’s most profitable factories, assembling about 300,000 Chevrolet Tahoes, GMC Yukons and Cadillac Escalades annually. Arlington also builds extra-large SUVs such as the Chevy Suburban and Yukon XL.
Jennifer Ecclestone, a spokeswoman for the plant, said the visit was not related directly to the proposed expansion.
“It was part of their normal monthly meeting cadence and their wanting to see different aspects of the business during their sessions,” Ecclestone said in an email.
Some board members and GM president Dan Amann also visited Car Pro Show dealer affiliate Classic Chevrolet in Grapevine, the top-selling Chevy dealership in the U.S.
GM confirmed the possible Arlington expansion project last week.
The massive project, if approved, will add 1.2 million square feet of space at the 61-year-old plant, increasing its size about 30 percent, and create 589 new jobs.
The project is likely to take at least two years to complete, analysts say.
Demand for Arlington’s big SUVs keeps the plant busy. Three shifts work around the clock during the week, and overtime is typically scheduled at least two Saturdays a month.
Johnny Pruitte, president of United Auto Workers Local 276, said he thinks the visit by Barra and the board was unprecedented.
“We were told that in the history of General Motors, the entire board of directors had never visited a plant before,” Pruitte said Wednesday.
Barra and the board arrived about 7:30 a.m. and spent the morning touring the plant. At times, they stopped to talk to workers and ask questions, later meeting with officials at the plant.
The Arlington plant is the only GM facility that builds full-size SUVs.
The Arlington City Council approved an abatement that would reduce GM’s property taxes on the new equipment and facilities by 80 percent for 10 years.