Making It Yours

2/26/2016

Spring 2016

Subaru of Indiana Automotive, Inc. Builds and Accessorizes the Subaru Legacy and Outback Just for You

It’s a beautiful day at Subaru of Indiana Automotive, Inc. in the small town of Lafayette, Indiana. This is where brand-new Subaru Outback and Legacy vehicles roll off the assembly line. I’ve journeyed here today to get a behind-the-scenes look at how those new vehicles are carefully fitted with accessories to match each customer’s desired configuration.

Jay Orrell, plant operations manager at Subaru of Indiana Automotive, Inc.
Jay Orrell, plant operations manager at Subaru of Indiana Automotive, Inc.

Dreams Made Real

Jay Orrell, the plant operations manager, meets me in the massive parking lot and leads me to his office overlooking the squadrons of finished vehicles parked in a neat grid in the storage yard below. “I started as team leader with the Advanced Quality Assurance group here at Subaru of America in Lafayette in early 2001,” Orrell recalls. In late 2004, he took over as quality manager at the port of Newport News, Virginia, later moving with the company to the Port of Baltimore, Maryland, and from there to its Vancouver, Washington, port operation. In 2011, he returned to Lafayette to oversee the plant’s complicated logistics, following the flow of vehicles from the assembly line to U.S. retailers. Today he’s going to show me the department that is his pride and joy: accessory installation.

It’s great to bring my family here and watch the company grow. Whoever would’ve thought it would all bring me home again?

When buyers decide on a Subaru, they can choose from an extensive collection of parts and accessory options to guarantee their new vehicle meets all of their practical and recreational needs. As they explore trim levels and options, they might want a remote engine starter, a storage rack, or a rear bumper guard. The men and women installing the accessories make sure that the vehicles are carefully outfitted with the new owner’s chosen equipment.

Wish List

Carefully covered in bibs and protective tapes, a finished Legacy or Outback enters the shop with a digital list describing the options to be installed. Its transformation from uniform assembled machine to unique treasure begins with whatever feature will take the longest to install, and ends with the adding of smaller touches. “The bigger applications are usually trailer hitches, remote starters, or optional 110-volt power outlets,” Orrell explains. “Some vehicles are here as long as five hours, but the average model is completed in two or three hours.”

Tightly Focused

While the accessory install shop sits in the middle of an 820-acre industrial facility, its atmosphere is more focused and subdued than the factory floor. There’s no mechanization or robots. There are no sparks or welding flashes. In fact, the only machines moving through the workshop are the vehicles themselves, as the technicians and mechanics drive them from station to station. Whether working individually or as a team, technicians move about in sectioned-off areas, each dedicated to their own particular specialty. As each individual enhancement is completed on a vehicle, an attendant checks it off and scans an invoice before driving the vehicle to the next stage.

Technician Dhing Villanueva installs a mirror on a Subaru Legacy.
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A clear film to scratchproof the rear bumper is installed on a Legacy.
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Many accessories are available after purchase. Go to subaru.com/drive-accessories.

Technician Trevor Rosen quietly installs a clear film to scratchproof the rear bumper on a Legacy.
Technician Trevor Rosen quietly installs a clear film to
scratchproof the rear bumper on a Legacy.

Attention to Detail

Technician Trevor Rosen quietly installs a clear film to scratchproof the rear bumper on a Legacy, carefully stretching a long strip of protective plastic and smoothing out the sheet until it is all but invisible. Finishing his latest effort, he smiles, remembering the day he applied the same detail to a Legacy destined for his own garage. “We ordered it for my wife,” Rosen says, reaching for another strip as the next Legacy heads his way. “It’s a special thing to be able to put touches on your own vehicle.”

At the final stages of installation, a technician confirms that each ordered enhancement is complete. A final digital update reports that the vehicle is finished and ready for its buyer, or the Subaru retailer eagerly waiting to fill its inventory. “Within five minutes of completing inspection, a retailer anywhere in the U.S. will be able to locate this vehicle and tell a buyer it’s ready and on its way,” Orrell says.

Home Grown

Looking back across the shop floor, Orrell motions to where a 20,000-square-foot expansion will soon be built. Impreza will soon join its Subaru siblings here, with the 2017 model assembled alongside the new Outback and Legacy. “I grew up here,” he smiles. “It’s great to bring my family here and watch the company grow so quickly. Whoever would’ve thought it would all bring me home again?”

Discover all the ways you can accessorize your Subaru at subaru.com/drive-accessories.

<img alt="Technician Jon Smith Jr. installs a hitch." data-cke-saved-src="/Images/2016/Spring/Making-It-Yours/making_it_yours_inline_9" src="/Images/2016/Spring/Making-It-Yours/making_it_yours_inline_9" "="">
Technician Dhing Villanueva installs a mirror on a Subaru Legacy.
Technician Jon Smith Jr. installs a hitch. Technician Dhing Villanueva installs
a mirror on a Subaru Legacy.
Subaru vehicles being loaded onto a car carrier.
Subaru vehicles being loaded onto a car carrier.