On Friday, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) raised a Christmas tree to “top off” the new paint shop being built as part of a $1.6 billion investment to construct the new Mack Avenue Assembly Plant on Detroit’s eastside.
While most recognize the evergreen tree as a classic symbol of the holiday season, for the ironworkers who spent the past four months assembling 6,500 tons of structural steel, it means something very different.
A long-standing tradition, the raising of a Christmas tree or “construction tree”, as it is also known, marks the placement of the highest beam or structural element of a building. It also symbolizes that the construction milestone was reached safely, without serious injury.
“In ancient times, the tree was an announcement to the community to come and celebrate the completion of the new building, a tradition that is continued today,” said Joseph Panyard, FCA Project Manager for the new Detroit paint shop. “The last piece of steel for our project was painted white and signed by all of the ironworkers who have worked tirelessly on this project.”
In February, FCA announced the investment to build the first new assembly plant in Detroit in nearly 30 years, bringing 3,850 new jobs to the city. The new plant will produce the next-generation Jeep® Grand Cherokee and all-new, three-row, full-size Jeep SUV, along with their electrified models.
The new plant is scheduled to start production of the new three-row Jeep SUV late next year.