As I sat at one of the White House press pool tables, and reflected on the past several days, it was clear I was given access to a completely different world. As background, I received a special invitation from Daimler Trucks North America to have a first hand glimpse into the preparation that goes into hosting the leader of the free world, The President of the United States of America, Barack Obama. I was offered this opportunity several days before the official announcement of the President’s visit was public with the instruction to share my personal viewpoint of President Obama’s visit to Detroit Diesel Corporation.
However, to be honest, it was very difficult to keep this incredible news quiet for several days ahead of the official announcement. As you can imagine, the entire facility was filled with emotion and rampant speculation about a special visit that was going to take place in a few days. The guesses of who the special guest might be ranged widely – from top Daimler Executives, State of Michigan Governmental Officials as well as a few that actually got it right and mentioned the possibility of the President of the United States visiting us. I kept to my word and remained silent.
When the day of the event finally came around, I couldn’t help but think about all of the effort it took to plan, prepare and organize the event. Very few employees had advanced notice and were assigned critical tasks to make sure that the President’s visit was 100% successful. It was truly amazing to see how this small group pulled together as a team to ensure everything would go smoothly – it was a testament to the teamwork that drives Daimler to be the best.
It was finally time to go to the big event, I checked in to receive my press credentials with the White House Communications group and took my seat among the Nation’s media. As I sat with the press corps, I listened to all of the discussions going on around me – for example, I overheard reporters sharing facts of important executives, government officials and White House staff members that were entering the special VIP section. There were constant tweets, blogs and as well as the frantic click-clack of fingers typing furiously on computer keyboards – I felt special to be in the midst of the media frenzy that would result in news across the world.
The atmosphere in the plant was bustling with excitement and anticipation as everyone waited patiently for the President’s arrival. This was going to be President’s first visit to Michigan since the National election. Even more amazing was the fact that this was the President’s second visit to a Daimler Trucks facility in less than one year (he visited the Daimler Trucks North America facility in Mount Holly, North Carolina earlier this year to recognize our innovations in fuel efficiency). What an amazing feat! I can’t imagine he has ever visited a manufacturer twice in one year – once in a year is incredible, twice, WOW.
To my delight, Martin Daum, President and CEO of Daimler Trucks North America was announced and took the Presidential stage to talk about the importance of the new ‘‘Detroit‘‘ brand name and the integration of Detroit Diesel and Daimler 12 years ago. He mentioned that moving forward the company’s goal was to continue our undisputed market leadership and for Detroit to supply the industry with exceptional engines, axles and transmissions. The crowd gave Martin a deafening round of applause.
A calm silence came over everyone right before President Obama walked in, at that moment it suddenly became very real to me that the President of the United States was there for us. To recognize our achievements in front of the whole world. When he announced that Daimler would invest $120 million in the facility and continue to create jobs to support the community the entire audience exploded with applause and cheers. Furthermore, the President detailed our leadership – stating that we are the only manufacturer to announce a completely integrated powertrain to be produced under one roof – in fact, we are the only manufacturer to have a completely integrated powertrain in North America right now. I could sense the immense pride in the room. As the speech came to an end the cheering continued and positive energy flowed through the crowd. My final thought as the applause continued for what seemed to be a lifetime was the pride I felt to be working for a company worthy of direct praise by the President of the United States. My wish is that all Daimler employees could sense the energy and pride that I felt from this historic occasion.