American LaFrance celebrated its 175th anniversary of manufacturing emergency vehicles and vocational chassis,
December 6, 2007 By Fire Fighting in Canada
LaFrance celebrated its 175th anniversary of manufacturing emergency
vehicles and vocational chassis, as well as the grand opening of its
new manufacturing facility and corporate headquarters in October in
Summerville, S.C. More than 1,200 American LaFrance enthusiasts,
vendors, and past and current American LaFrance associates were on hand
to view antique apparatus displays, take in plant tours and to
experience a traditional "wet down" of the new facilities.
state-of-the-art manufacturing plant includes more than 440,000 square
feet of production and assembly space dedicated to fire apparatus and
vocational chassis. The corporate office houses a display area for
antique apparatus owned by American LaFrance.
More than 20
antique fire apparatus from all over the U.S. were brought by their
owners to be displayed, judged and to participate in a "first water"
competition. Antiques ranged from 1912 to 1960 with pumpers, aerials
and a chemical unit proudly displayed. American LaFrance also welcomed
back one of its own, a 1928 Type 145 pumper. "Old Blue," as it is
affectionately known, had its restoration started by a group of
American LaFrance employees and was painstakingly completed by Andy
Swift and Ken Soderbeck. "Old Blue" will take up permanent residence in
the display area in the corporate building in Summerville.
American LaFrance president and CEO Bill Hinz said the acquisition of
the company by Patriarch Partners in December 2005 created many
challenges. For example, construction of the new South Carolina
facilities and the design and implementation of a new information
technology system from the ground up. "These two needs caused us to
move quickly to become a truly stand-alone company," he said.
has more than 40 years of experience leading manufacturing companies in
the aerospace, biotechnology and telecommunications industries. He
spent almost 30 years at Allied Signal, where he served, among other
roles, as the president of worldwide aftermarket repair and overhaul
and distribution, as well as president and CEO of European operations.
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