International Automotive Components, an Iowa City plant producing parts of vehicles’ interiors, celebrated its 50th anniversary Saturday.
Families of staff members gathered at the plant, which opened in 1964, to take a peek at parts on display, as well as at the inside of the plant itself.
The event also featured food, kids’ entertainment and free frisbees that the staff made on the spot using an injection molding process that’s instrumental in producing the hard parts of cars’ interiors.
Plant manager Brian Pedrick said International Automotive Components’ Iowa City location, 2500 U.S. Highway 6, employs 750 people total. He said a plant of this size can bring economic benefits to the local area.
“With this many people, it definitely has an impact on Iowa City,” Pedrick said.
Employees there produce interior parts, including instrument panels and armrests, for vehicles such as the Chevrolet Camaro, the Jeep Patriot, the Kia Sorento and others.
Leaders at the plant said making parts for the Polaris Slingshot is a new project that the staff is tackling.
Dan Vinson, operations manager of the Iowa City plant, said the plant originally produced slabs of foam for furniture before leaders moved on to making parts for the automotive industry. He said Chrysler is the plant’s biggest customer.
Vinson, who has worked at the plant for 31 years, said he was glad to see so many people, including former employees, gathered at today’s celebration.
“It’s nice to see them coming back here and seeing how the plant’s evolved over the years,” he said.
Marsha Vinson, who has worked at the plant for 38 years and now works in the receiving department, said she enjoys the job and has met great people while working at the plant, which she described as “a melting pot.”
She said the plant draws employees from a wide variety of backgrounds and that the job has helped her develop a greater appreciation for cars’ quality when she’s car shopping.
“You’re a whole lot more conscientious,” she said.
The Vinson’s granddaughter, 8-year-old Imigyn Claypool, attended the celebration, where she saw the ins and outs of her grandma’s job for the first time.
She said her favorite part of the experience was seeing car parts up close.
“It’s cool,” she said.
Tim Peak, a senior tool engineer who has worked at the plant for 27 years, offered visitors information about what takes place at the plant.
Peak said his work there has drastically changed how he looks at cars and that he’s also a picky car shopper. He said now he’s apt to think about aspects of cars’ interiors such as color matching and how parts fit together.
“I kind of look at how things are put together, which, before I came here, I never thought about that,” he said.
Reach Holly Hines at [email protected] or at 887-5414.