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Oldsmobile Forum: Unending loyalty: Oldsmobile is coming to a close,
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Old April 29th, 2004
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Unending loyalty: Oldsmobile is coming to a close, but worker’s pride remains strong

ROD SANFORD/Lansing State Journal

Olds supporter: Oldsmobile fan Alex Hernandez, seen with his 1971 Oldsmobile "S" outside the GM Lansing Car Assembly Body Plant where he works, has been a fan of Oldsmobiles for many years. But the brand ends Thursday when the last Alero rolls off the line.

Alex Hernandez played on a Lansing Little League baseball team, but he didn't share his teammates' dream of playing professional ball.

Instead, Hernandez looked across the diamond to the old Fisher Body factory and dreamed of making cars.

Someday, he vowed, "I'm going to make Oldsmobiles there, just like my father."

Shortly after graduating from Sexton High School, Hernandez made good on that promise. He got a job at the plant, now known as Lansing Car Assembly, and has been assembling Oldsmobiles and other cars ever since.

That ends Thursday, when the last Oldsmobile rolls off the assembly line and into history.

On Friday, Hernandez will still build Pontiac Grand Ams and Chevrolet Classics at the factory he's worked at for 25 years. But his dream job - assembling Oldsmobiles - will have slipped into the past.

"Oldsmobile is what made Lansing," said Hernandez, a Delta Township resident. "There's a lot of pride in that."

Oldsmobile has been a constant in Hernandez's life.

He grew up on Genesee Street, barely a block away from the plant where his father, Joe, worked.

At school, Alex would gaze out the window at the factory. He drifted to sleep at night with thoughts of the Fisher Body plant.

"There were cars being made while I was asleep," Hernandez said. "The factory was in my sight at all times."

He even told his friends of his plans to get a job at the factory.

"They said, 'Why do you want to work there?' They thought I was nuts," Hernandez said. "Still do."

He didn't care. His father understood.

"I did want for him to go there," the elder Hernandez said. "They were paying good money. That job supported me and my wife and my family - six kids."

Joe took a job in the plant in 1964, when the factory made Oldsmobile 98s and 88s.

Alex got his job there in 1979. His sister Lydia went to work there soon after. The other siblings went to college or found work after high school. The jobs they hold include entrepreneur and truck driver.

Alex was put to work on Oldsmobile Cutlass two- and four-door cars. But soon, the plant's identity as an Oldsmobile factory would change.

The plant dropped its Fisher Body name in 1984 and became part of GM's Buick-Oldsmobile-Cadillac group. Grand Ams and Buick Somersets were put together beside the Olds Calais.

Even though other brands were introduced to the plant, Hernandez remained loyal to the Olds.

Other than a starter car his father gave him and a Pontiac Grand Am, Hernandez has owned nothing but Oldsmobiles. His current love is a 1971 Oldsmobile Cutlass S: rust color, hard top. He takes the car with 177,000 miles to two car shows a year.

Even as Oldsmobile fades away, Alex isn't about to forsake his favorite brand. He'd rather buy used Oldsmobiles than other cars.

With just a few more days left to make Oldsmobiles, Hernandez has made peace with GM's decision.

It helps that GM has committed to building a new assembly plant in Delta Township, where Hernandez hopes to work.

"People say, if it wasn't for Oldsmobile, we wouldn't be getting what we're getting in Delta Township," he said.

"But people are emotional about it. I do have mixed feelings."

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Old April 29th, 2004
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RoraStar96 RoraStar96 is offline
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These articles are great.

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