Earlier this year, Mike Shearer, Product Specialist with Kansas City Assembly Plant’s Transit Launch Team, celebrated 30 years of service with the company. The entire 30 years of Mike’s career have been spent in Kansas City, so not only has he come to know his way around the property; he has also come to know the Transit van like the back of his hand.
Ever since the idea of bringing Transit to America surfaced, Shearer has played a part. He spent time with the team studying the complexities and builds before the project’s inception. With the van built overseas and the infinite varieties and complexities of the product, it was important the team fully understand the project.
During the first stages of development in 2013, Shearer spent time in Germany and Turkey with other members of the launch team to witness the van’s build up close and personal. He says he valued the experience and the knowledge he obtained on the mission. “It gave us some unique perspective on what we’d be bringing to a North American assembly plant,” said Shearer. “We were able to see it built from square-one. Visiting Turkey really gave me the ability to capture a feel for the vehicle in a hands-on way, so that we would know what to expect. And from a human point of view, the overseas visit provided us with some key relationship building so that we could lean on each other in our learning about the product.”
Shearer states that he was surprised at the van’s size the first time he saw one. “The first time I saw one in real life was in Istanbul,” he says. “It was a Transit that picked us up at the airport. That is when it hit me that bringing something of that size into our house would be quite the undertaking.”
Mike is glad to have had the opportunity to see the development of the product and the evolving landscape of the factory change before his eyes. “It was the first time in my career at Ford that I was able to see a transformation of this magnitude,” said Shearer.
Years later, Mike happily states that he is ‘fluent in Transit’. This is factual, because Mike often gives detailed tours in which he explains how the Transit is the most complex unit Ford Motor Company builds. He highlights the ‘Gozilla’ robot in Transit Body and discusses how the sheet metal pieces coming into the building are the largest brought into a factory in one piece.
He describes to guests all the varieties of ways Transit build-combinations are capable. “From the flat, to medium, to high-roof selections, to the variations of wheelbases and powertrain choices - the combinations are virtually limitless,” he says. “When I tell people that the only two common pieces on any Transit are the hood and both fenders, it often blows their mind.”
With a 2020 Transit model launch on the horizon, Mike says he is ready. “I’m excited about this launch,” he says. “It will give our customers an AWD option who have wanted that feature since its inception the ability to purchase one. I like that it is gaining more capability and becoming even more versatile. Each year something surfaces that surprises me even more.”
Mike often references a certain confidence level that is evident at Kansas City Assembly Plant. “Being that we build the top-selling van and top-selling truck in the country, our facility exudes a certain sense of pride,” he stated. “You talk to engineers or people from around the world who come here, they always comment on the kindness and welcoming nature of our people.”
Spending 30 years of his life at KCAP has grown Shearer’s family bond, provided numerous friendships and is something he considers an honor. He has one son who currently works in F-150 Trim and a father who retired with 40 years of service. Mike prides himself on being people-oriented and enjoys being a part of a team whenever possible. “Operating as a team player is something I find fulfilling and I’ll help anyone any chance I get.”