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Why did Lordstown Motors name itself after a small Ohio village?

I had the opportunity to ask the startup automaker's CEO directly. It dovetails with LMC's first vehicle, the electric Endurance pickup truck.

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- 02:35
Lordstown Motors factory

Lordstown Motors Corporation wants to be the Steel Valley's new anchor.

Lordstown Motors

When starting a company from scratch, you need a name. It's what the world will know you by, and for companies that find success, the name can bring admiration from millions.

So why did Lordstown Motors Corporation, a startup electric carmaker that rolled out the Endurance electric pickup today, decide to name itself after a small village in Ohio? To start with, LMC's plant is based in Lordstown, Ohio -- in what's known colloquially as Steel Valley. But, the meaning goes deeper for LMC CEO Steve Burns.

Burns and I spoke ahead of the Endurance pickup's debut on Thursday, and although the majority of our conversation revolved around the upcoming electric truck, I decided to ask why the company wanted to put Lordstown on the map.

"It kind of dovetails into the name of the truck, Endurance," he said. "This region depended on this factory for so many years."

Lordstown Motors CEO Steve Burns

LMC CEO Steve Burns.

Lordstown Motors

LMC purchased the factory, which is nestled in Northeast Ohio, from General Motors last year after the US automaker hashed out a new labor contract with the United Auto Workers union. While the UAW negotiated to keep the Detroit-Hamtramck plant open in Michigan, the plant in Lordstown was set to close after 50-plus years.

"The people, they've endured," Burns began. "At many times it might have closed, [the plant] stopped making a model and they hoped for a new model. It's bred a very tough people."

At the plant's peak in the 1990s, over 10,000 people worked at the Lordstown plant. But by 2017, the factory employed just 4,500 workers to build the Chevrolet Cruze. Slowly, as plans to cut the Cruze from Chevy's lineup became more inevitable and there was no commitment for a new vehicle to build, the third shift received layoff notices. Then the second shift. Most of the remaining 1,600 workers transferred to other GM plants in the US after the final Cruze rolled off the assembly line in March 2019.

Lordstown Motors factory

Hopefully, the lot will be filled with cars once again.

Lordstown Motors

Before LMC was official, Burns said his team received notice about the factory and the facility made the area an ideal place to settle. "But when we realized the workforce here, that's what really cemented the deal."

"We wanted to let the workforce here know how important the region was to us," he said, summing up the decision to call the company Lordstown Motors.

Lordstown Motors factory

Endurance pickups should start rolling down the assembly line this January.

Lordstown Motors

Iconic GM vehicles left the factory, which LMC continues to prep for electric truck production this January. The Chevy Impala, Bel Air and Caprice, and even the first-gen Pontiac Firebird have departed. Now, LMC plans to hire on 600 line workers as it hopes to crank out 20,000 Endurance pickups in the first year. The employment figure is small compared to Lordstown's heyday, but Burns offered a little foresight.

"This factory used to make 400,000 Cruzes and we'd like to emulate that. We didn't buy a plant of this capacity not to fill it."

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