Jeep Week: Marchionne legacy

Jeep Fest: Marchionne legacy

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - Jeep Week in downtown Toledo is just a few days away.

The Jeep has had a major impact on our local economy, much of that is because of the company's former CEO.

Sergio Marchionne was hailed as the man who saved two automotive companies, Fiat and Chrysler. After the merger of the two companies, Marchionne helped dig Chrysler out of bankruptcy, eliminating 13 billion dollars of debt.

"The guy was phenomenal. I've never seen a CEO that did was he's done," said Denny Amrhein, the owner of Grogan's Towne Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram.

Fiat-Chrysler is not only maintaining business, but is also thriving with the expansion at many production lines, including the Toledo Jeep plant.

"Basically, our workforce has delivered, and the phenomenal growth of that vehicle, we haven't been able to build enough without working through Christmas, and working through July, and Labor Day and every holiday that we've had," said Bruce Baumhower, the president of UAW Local 12.

Marchionne is not only remembered as the man who helped save two automotive companies, but he is also credited with helping build the Jeep brand to become the strongest it's ever been.

He didn't just support Jeep workers in theory, he openly hailed the northwest Ohio workforce as a vital asset to Fiat-Chrysler to the international auto industry.

Officials in the Toledo area believe Marchionne understood the importance of Jeep's heritage to the Glass City, which may be why Marchionne never baulked at keeping Wrangler production here.

"Our members always appreciate the fact that he recognized out efforts. And the fact that he would come their and ask them to build more Jeeps, and they would do it. And then he would publicly state that around the world, he'd talk about this Toledo workforce," said Baumhower.

"You know, he was down here quite a bit in the Jeep plant, visiting and stating afloat with everybody down here. I mean, there really isn't anything that anybody can say bad about Sergio, except that he was a great guy and a great CEO," Amrhein said.

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