Kettering Celebrates 1st Year Anniversary


Kettering Celebrates 1st Year Anniversary

Our Kettering plant celebrated its first year anniversary this May. Built from the ground-up on the site of the former Detroit Kettering High School, the facility assembles instrument panels for Jeep® vehicles.

Here are facts about our newest location:

  • More than 500 Detroiters work at our newest plant.
  • More than half a million components have been assembled since we opened.
  • Ten percent of our workforce at Kettering are refugees.
  • Priority for hiring and training is given to residents in the five zip codes surrounding the plant.
  • Stress is on-site job training, as well as career development. All employees are eligible for company pre-paid college tuition, books and continuing education programs.
  • Employees at Kettering are among the company leaders in our Great Ideas program, which generates ideas for continuous improvement of our operations. This program financially rewards employees and non-profits.
  • Our employees are actively involved in multiple volunteer outreach programs in the community, providing scholarships, food, and clothing.

More than 200 people gathered to celebrate the grand opening of the Kettering plant on the east side of Detroit. Built from the ground-up on the site of the former Detroit Kettering High School, the facility assembles instrument panels for Jeep® vehicles for Stellantis and creates hundreds of jobs for the community.

As a commitment to the Kettering Alumni community, Dakkota restored and now displays the landmark giant “K” that once stood in front of the school.  Devon Industrial Group, a minority business enterprise joint venture with Walbridge, built the 375,000 square-foot Dakkota facility completely during the COVID pandemic.

The celebration featured remarks from Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, Stellantis COO Mark Stewart and Michigan Minority Supplier Diversity Council DEO Michelle Sourie Robinson. Thirteen news outlets covered the opening.

“Stellantis congratulates Dakkota on the opening of this facility in support of our Detroit assembly plants and the commitment we share in bringing economic development to the city,” said Stewart. “We commend Andra and her team for their bold vision to engage local institutions to support the automotive industry and add to the health and vibrancy of diverse communities.”

Kettering employs 500 workers and plans on growing its workforce with continued priority given to residents of the plant’s zip code and four neighboring Detroit zip codes. All employees are eligible for company pre-paid college tuition, books, and continuing education programs. About 90 percent of the plant’s current workforce identifies as a member of a minority group. More than 40 percent of the plant’s employees are women.

The Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council recognized Dakkota for its business success and supplier development and diversity programs. Dakkota, which employs more than 2,000 highly trained team members, earned top supplier accolades from Ford in 2007, 2008 and 2009. Ford also recognized Dakkota for Leadership in Diversity in 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2015. Dakkota was named Supplier of the Year for quality and world-class manufacturing by Chrysler in 2013, and Supplier of the Year by General Motors every year from 2013 to 2017.

President Barack Obama acknowledged Rush by name during his 2014 State of the Union address for creating hundreds of manufacturing jobs in Detroit with the June 2012 opening of Detroit Manufacturing Systems – the first such plant opening in the city of Detroit in decades. In the first 36 months of operation, Rush led DMS to $1 billion in annual revenue and 1,000 team members. In 2017, DMS launched a second location, a state-of-the-art facility built from the ground up in Toledo, Ohio, and welcomed nearly 200 new hires. In 2018, she sold her majority stake in DMS after working to ensure the firm’s stability and winning customer accolades, including Ford Motor Company’s World Excellence Award for Diverse Supplier and Ford Q1 quality endorsement for the Detroit plant.

“What Andra Rush and Dakkota have done here is remarkable,” said Mayor Duggan. “First, they’ve put back to use much of the former Kettering High School site to create a new neighborhood job center. But what has been truly exceptional is how they have exceeded their initial commitment to hiring Detroiters from the neighborhoods immediately surrounding their new facility.  This is a great example of how we are partnering with major employers to make sure Detroiters can take part in the growing opportunities available in their city.”

Andra, who is the founder, chair, and CEO of Dakkota, said her company was proud to have stepped forward to create a new landmark that reflects the best of Detroit, the State of Michigan and the auto industry.” “In an underserved community, we are providing career opportunities for a diverse group of Detroiters while providing high-quality components and complex suspension, cockpit, and overhead systems for some of the best-selling vehicles in America. This helps to fulfill our commitment to improving the world for future generations. What was once a site for enhancing lives through education now has a similar purpose, through the power of meaningful work and careers,” she concluded.