Halted by coronavirus, then a tornado, BorgWarner returns.


A transfer case floated over the top of a cart at the BorgWarner plant in Seneca, suspended by a cable as a worker made some final adjustments on May 4. Satisfied, she pushed a button and the automotive unit dropped to the cart. Her coworkers cheered.

The transfer case was the first part assembled in Seneca since a one-two punch halted production first a closure planned to cope with the threat of coronavirus and then a powerful tornado that heavily damaged the plant and surrounding neighborhoods. A contracted security guard was killed when the tornado struck the plant, but workers who would have been on the production line when the overnight storm hit were already at home as a protective measure against the spread of COVID-19.

A company representative at the time said their goal was for the tornado damage to be repaired fast enough that it would not add to days lost to the pandemic.

"It's a true testament to the power of collaboration and teamwork of the employees in Seneca and all of BorgWarner," Plant Manager Joe McCulloch said in a statement a day after production resumed.

McCulloch said it took 500 working hours for the BorgWarner team and contractors to bring the machining and assembly portions of the facility back to working order.The plant is still a working construction site as other parts of the facility are repaired.

Annie Caggiano, executive director of the Oconee Economic Alliance, said the BorgWarner plant going back into production was a morale booster for the community.

"Although we have a long way to go before we are back to 'normal,' seeing BorgWarner rebuild and partially reopen after such devastation is a true testament to the hard work of...

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