Jeep workers put their product to the test on off-road course at plant

Published: Sep. 27, 2017 at 5:13 PM EDT
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Workers at the Toledo Assembly Complex are gearing up to build the next generation Jeep Wrangler. As the process of bringing all the workers back to the plant continues, employees are getting a chance to drive what they build. It's called the Jeep Wrangler Immersion, and it includes a series of off road courses they have a chance to navigate.

From the very beginning the Wrangler's calling card has certainly been it's off- road capabilities. Employees at the Toledo Assembly Complex have been putting the vehicle they build to the test.

For many of them, this is the first time they've actually been behind the wheel of a Wrangler on an off- road course. Laurie Turski has worked at the plant for 17 years,"Feeling accomplished about what you do at work is one thing, but this experience puts everything in perspective. I have never done anything like this. It was a rush!"

DeMarco Minter has worked at the plant for the last three years,"You definitely want to go into work and give even a little extra after seeing just what the Wrangler is capable of."

Kimberly Kille has been at the plant for 22 years. She's owned a Jeep for years, but she has never done anything like this, "It really makes you appreciate all the parts we put on the car and the incredible capabilities the Wranglers have. It's an amazing vehicle."

And those responses were the goal of the Wrangler Immersion. Adam Hillock is the Human Resources Manager at the Toledo Assembly Complex,"As a business, safety and quality are always your top priorities. For employees this experience teaches them the importance and value of every component they put in that vehicle."

I even had a chance to put the Toledo-built workhorse to the test on one of the courses.We climbed over hills, went across logs and even tested gravity a few times.The Jeep make quick work of everything we put in front of it But it does take a few minutes to settle in to the course

Kimberly she was impressed by the Jeep's incredible capabilities,"At first the course is a bit intimidating. You don't expect the vehicle to go up those steep hills all you see is the front of the Jeep and the flags in front of you. Then you come over the hill and all you see is the dirt and it drives itself down. it's amazing!"

The experience drove home a true sense of pride for the workers, "You can't walk away from this without feeling like we are doing something great for the world by building Jeeps in Toledo."

Most employees have been idled since April while the plant was re-tooled for the new Wrangler. Workers have been coming back in waves.According to a Fiat Chrysler spokeswoman, first shift will return on Monday to get ready for launch in November.

Getting them back to work has been a three part process. In addition to the off-road course, employees are also spending a day volunteering in the community and three days in training at The University of Toledo.