Approaching its 48th anniversary in the city, Michelin is a historic company in Dundee – but it wasn’t a relic.
In the four years before the closure announcement around £90 million was invested into the Dundee factory and the workforce – producing 1,000 tyres an hour, 24 hours a day – were at the top of their game.
It was a world class team, working with world class machines, to make a world class product.
Which is why the closure announcement came as such a shock in November 2018.
The tyres coming out of Dundee were better than ever – but demand for premium smaller tyres almost halved in just two years as price-conscious consumers opted for cheaper, poorer quality Far East imports.
Michelin Dundee has been close to closure on several occasions in its history and this time there was no U-turn.
What has occurred in the past 20 months has been deeply impressive.
Firstly, the way Michelin has handled the closure should be held up as an example of how to conduct a very difficult process.
The company gave its 850-strong workforce time. Almost 20 months to find alternative jobs, with people able to leave at any time with their redundancy package, and production ramped down in line with staff available.
Michelin could not have done more to help staff find alternative employment with its on-site jobs centre, interview coaching and packages for training.
A total of 115 staff left the site yesterday without another job lined up, a huge number of staff seeking work in the toughest economic environment imaginable. But without the efforts by Michelin this number would have been far greater.
Secondly, the conduct and professionalism of the Michelin workforce is to be applauded. As colleagues left they had to quickly adapt to new shift patterns while facing uncertainty over their future but standards never slipped.
Confusion and anger turned to resilience and determination with an absentee rate often below 2%.
Lastly, the progress of the Michelin Scotland Innovation Parc in a short space of time has been rapid and we are now seeing a glimpse of what it will become with the first companies committing to the project.
It’s exciting for the city to see the standard of companies looking to come to Dundee.
And hopefully some workers that might have said teary goodbyes yesterday will soon be back through the Michelin gates employed by one of the many innovative MSIP businesses.