Workforce Diversity Brings Vitality to GM Manufacturing

Arlington, Texas, which ranks among the top ten diverse U.S. cities according to financial website WalletHub’s study, is home to numerous workers and technicians that have relocated over the past decade for better opportunities at Arlington Assembly. In fact, more than 30 percent of the employees at Arlington Assembly have transferred from another location. The inclusion and vitality on the manufacturing floor grows with each personal adventure across the states.   

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Sheila Shinault, who has moved seven times with GM in her nearly 40-year career, now considers Arlington her final stop. Relocated from Kansas four years ago to spend more time with her families in Arlington, she said she might retire here, at a plant she describes as family-oriented..

“Everyone helps everyone out here,” said the New York native, whose female co-workers recently started a Facebook page to guide new settlers. “Moving is always hard but rewarding. It is about meeting new people and learning new things.”   

A manufacturing veteran who has extensive experience in almost every role at GM factories, Shelia now works in the quality department of Arlington’s new vehicle launch team, at the very front line of delivering GM’s new-generation full-size SUVs.   

The much-anticipated launches have brought together a highly capable team in a unique environment for collaboration. Christa Bruce (shown in the masterhead image), the Arlington plant planner for launch, attributed that to a good mix of local team members and newcomers just like her.   

Originally from Canada, she came with an open heart on her first relocation to the GM Fairfax Assembly and decided a year ago to expand her adventure further south. It was eye-opening to experience the region’s grit and grandeur, such as four-level highway interchanges. She now shares in the Texas pride built into the vehicles that are manufactured in Arlington.  

“It is a pride that everyone takes in doing the right thing every day to support our valued customers,” said Bruce. “We are advocates of our own workplace.”

Sheila Collins, a 34-year GM veteran working as a quality inspector at Arlington Assembly, recalled greeting new transfers as excited as she was seven years ago when returning to a state that held all her military memories. An adventurous type herself, she encouraged people to stay open to transfer opportunities and contribute to a more diverse manufacturing culture.   

“Sometimes, people don’t like to change. But change could bring a positive impact, not only on yourself but also people around you,” said Collins, whose whole family from Michigan now lives in Arlington, enjoying its mild weather. Her daughter, who recently graduated from University of North Texas, also works at Arlington Assembly.

In a diverse place like Arlington, which brands itself as the American Dream City, the community life is as vibrant as the job market. The top advice from Collins for Arlingtoner-wannabes at GM is to stay connected to the locals and embrace the new lifestyle.   

It all comes down to a balance between gains and losses. Justin Leonardi, on his first ever transfer out of his hometown in Ohio, is well settled in Arlington after transferring in 2017.   

The urban concrete feel of Arlington is a far cry from the rural fun he enjoyed back home. He developed dog-walking as a new outdoor hobby and decided earlier this year to move his new home closer to the woods and lakes. He and his wife plan for a long-term stay here.   

“The best part about Arlington is the diversity of food I can enjoy here, and the sense of accomplishment I have at my new job,” he said. A manufacturing quality coordinator since last May, he identifies manufacturing anomalies and ensures launch excellence.   

“As a problem-solver, I talk to a lot of people and they are quick to help. The hard-working spirit on the floor is part of the Texas pride I share,” said Leonardi.


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