Bill Koehler, CEO of Team NEO, is concerned about the workers who soon could be losing their jobs due to General Motors Co.'s decision to not give the Lordstown, Ohio, plant any new products next year. And he's concerned about the suppliers that serve the Lordstown plant, and the workers there whose jobs also could be at risk.
But when it comes to the region overall, he has fewer worries.
The economy is diverse, he said, and the region's manufacturers have "proven to be nimble over time."
This is a significant loss, but Northeast Ohio's manufacturers have experienced such loss before.
"I don't mean to be cavalier, but I do think being realistic about our economy and its diversity over time is an important aspect of this," Koehler said.
In general, automotive suppliers have diversified their customer bases over the years, which means the ripple effects of GM's cutbacks, locally and otherwise, could be contained.
Adding different platforms within automotive or expanding to markets like aerospace that are out of automotive altogether has been a way for companies to deal with the "peaks and valleys" of manufacturing, Koehler said.
Take, for instance, Jamestown Industries Inc. of Moraine, Ohio. Jamestown has a plant in Austintown, Ohio, that provides support for the Chevrolet Cruze to GM in Lordstown. In recent years, however, it has diversified to help protect the company from the volatility of the automotive market.
Lawrence Long, vice president of development for Jamestown Industries, is optimistic the company will be able to weather this latest storm. Diversifying the business hasn't been easy, he said, and neither was absorbing the loss as GM Lordstown went from three shifts to two to one. Jamestown Industries had to cut its shifts back, too.
But about three years ago, the company started to make a concentrated effort to diversify the services it offers.