I love the randomness of freelancing…I got a text at 7:45am on a bright, sunny morning a few weeks ago asking if I wanted to go to Charleston, South Carolina to film at the new Volvo factory to see how they make their new S60. Sign me up - this sounds epic!
And epic it was! The weekend began on Thursday…I got in early and had time to stroll the streets for a few hours and then we all met up for a nice casual dinner up the street from our hotel. It was nice to meet everyone who would be joining us for the weekend, since I don’t get around to many of these press events, it was great to see who was here from the industry. Folks from Motor Trend, Forbes, NPR, and several other were in attendance…this was an exclusive group of about a dozen people getting this close to the action of making a car on a live production line. Incredible!
Friday we were up bright and early for our big day! I say our, but really for everyone who would go through the training and actually install a piece of the car…little did I know it would be a big day for me too…you’ll see. Manuel and I drove our S60 to the factory, about 45 minutes inland. Once there, Manuel began his safety training and a very fun team building exercise using marshmallows - watch the video below to see what I mean. Then we were taken to another training exercise where Volvo employees work on wooden car models before getting to touch the real thing. This section helps by letting problems arise and seeing how they can be fixed so they do not happen again. Employees are encouraged to ask for help, as quality and safety trump anything in this industry. Once they all got a taste for what working on the line feels like, we went onto the actual, live, production floor. There are three main buildings on the Volvo campus: A - this is where the bodies of the car are welded together, B - this is where the frame is painted, and C - this is called final assembly where everything is put into the frame...cables, engine, sunroof, front console, seats, doors, etc. The cool thing is that through this entire process the car never sees daylight until it rolls off the line at the end.
Manuel was set to report to the sunroof station, he would be installing his very own sunroof on an actual S60...with supervision of course! He was so excited to be able to put his sunroof in, which he did without flaw and all green lights from the machine! Remember when I said it would also be a big day for me? Well, now is that time...I got the chance to sit inside a raw frame of an S60 to get a unique angle of the sunroof coming through where the windshield would later be installed.
Certainly the coolest experience I had all weekend - that is not something anyone else except the employees would be able to do, so thank you Volvo...you made this guy very happy indeed.
Here are some more images from our exclusive trip onto the factory floor...remember we are the first outside group to be on this factory floor...it was certainly an honor.
Seeing how Volvo builds its S60 really put deeper appreciation in my heart and mind with the workers who make these safe cars everyday. Also it makes me really want a Volvo now! :)
Saturday was a nice calm day to soak in all the area has to offer, while driving an S60 of course! I was able to get some nice photos and b-roll of the car to have for our film. We also wrapped filming for Manuel with his wrap up taking place in the car. Then then fun of the evening began...
Our XC90 caravan that took us everywhere, felt like we were a big deal! We were off to dinner at a very nice restaurant with the Volvo USA CEO, who is an extremely nice man, and very knowledgeable of Volvo and the car industry. He and his wife are such great people, not only did we have dinner that night, but they sat down next to us for Breakfast both Saturday and Sunday. To see and talk with someone so attached to a company I admire was a huge highlight of the weekend.
After dinner it was time to head to the Volvo Car Open to witness some tennis - in person! I was really crossing a lot of things off of my bucket list this weekend! :)
Sunday came early as I ventured out to a very quiet downtown Charleston to get some stills and B-roll of the S60. I’ll let the photos do the talking...
Volvo knows how to put together a weekend of great experiences you’ll never forget. This is about my second press trip with Roadshow, but I feel this weekend and everything about it will be hard to beat by any future press trip I go on. Don’t get me wrong - I love going on these trips! It is great to meet new people, learn more about the particular vehicle, and get some great opportunities for photos and video - but this trip goes even farther with the factory, actually helping to assemble an S60, the tennis, and meeting the fantastic Volvo team that was there.
Let me just say everyone I met was extremely kind, funny, and professional. From the lady who greeted me at the airport on my arrival to the driver who dropped me off to return home, and everyone in between. I’m honored I got to be a part of this incredible weekend. Many thanks to Roadshow and Volvo.
Now, check out the film! :)