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Posted on Tue, Apr 2, 2013 : 12:02 p.m.

GM Willow Run plant redevelopment: Aircraft maintenance firm buys 1 building

By Katrease Stafford

The International Turbine Industries, an aircraft maintenance firm, has purchased the former General Motors Willow Run Company Vehicle Operations facility, RACER Trust announced Tuesday.

ITI will use the property to expand its jet engine repair and parts sales business. The purchase will create 25 new jobs over the next five years and the company plans to invest $50,000 in repairs and improvements to the building. The company currently has 10 employees.


International Turbine Industries has purchased the former General Motors Willow Run Company Vehicle Operations facility at 2901 Tyler Road. Pictured here is heating machinery, housed in a separate building at the GM plant.

Daniel Brenner |

The purchase price amount was not immediately available.

The Company Vehicle Operations property at 2901 Tyler Road consists of a 23,000-square-foot facility on 22 acres of property that was once part of the GM Willow Run complex. The property is across the street from ITI’s existing facility at 2890 Tyler Road. The remainder of GM’s former holdings at Willow Run, consisting of more than 300 acres and a 5-million-square-foot manufacturingbuilding, remain for sale. ITI purchased the Company Vehicle Operations property from RACER Trust, which, on March 31, 2011, took control of 89 abandoned GM properties, 56 of which were in Michigan. The trust was charged with selling, repositioning and cleaning up all the sites, including the Willow Run plant. RACER Trust is marketing parts of the plant separately:

  • The Company Vehicle Operations facility, now under contract with ITI
  • The Engineering Center: An office building attached to the main plant
  • The Powertrain Plant: 5 million square feet of manufacturing space

The new jobs ITI is creating will range from laborers to skilled aircraft engineer technicians.

ITI owner Mark Andrews said in a statement he considered expanding his operations to another state, but decided to stay in Michigan because he wanted to give his employees the opportunity to continue living in Michigan without searching for new jobs.

Andrews founded the company in 2009 with his wife, Rhonda.

“I can’t wait to raise the flag across the street again,” Andrews said.“RACER offered me an affordable opportunity to invest close to home, in an area we know very well, and I’m very excited not just for Rhonda and me, but also for the people we work with now and those who will be joining our team in the near future.”

ITI specializes in engine repair, overhaul and inspection on TFE731, JT15D and other aircrafts and will soon specialize in CF34 engines for corporate and other private jets.

“I’m very pleased and proud that ITI decided not only to stay in Michigan, but to expand here and bring 25 new jobs to our community,” said Brenda Stumbo, Ypsilanti Township Supervisor. “ITI had other options, and the fact the company chose to invest and grow here is great news. I thank Mark and Rhonda Andrews for their confidence in our local workforce and the RACER Trust for working collaboratively with ITI and Ypsilanti Township to make this deal possible.”

The Willow Run property is adjacent to Willow Run Airport. GM stopped production at the facility in 2010.

The news of the purchase comes days after RACER Trust told it was fielding "several discussions" with potential purchases of the property. According to the company's marketing brochure, the total assessed value for the manufacturing building is $16,284,900, making its market value more than $32 million.

View Willow Run Airport in a larger map

Katrease Stafford covers Ypsilanti for her at or 734-623-2548 and follow her on twitter.


Dog Guy

Tue, Apr 2, 2013 : 11:57 p.m.

If Yankee Air Museum had International Turbine Industries re-engine Yankee Lady with some of their GE, Honeywell, or Pratt & Whitney jet engines, they would have the fastest B-17 ever.


Tue, Apr 2, 2013 : 6:15 p.m.

The caption under the photo accompanying this story is incorrect. The machinery pictured is two large steam driven reciprocating air compressors located in the Power House on the site. The headlines lead the reader to believe that ITI, with only 10 employees, purchased the entire old GM Powertrain facility, all 5 Million square feet and 300+ acres! Only careful reading reveals that ITI purchased the old Car Hauling Company building located on the former Willow Run Assembly Plant property, a building most recently used for GM Vehicle Operations until the closure of the transmission plant. Regardless, this is a start and is good news.

Cindy Heflin

Tue, Apr 2, 2013 : 9:30 p.m.

The headline was not meant to be misleading, but we have revised it to avoid possible confusion. The story has also been revised to more clearly identify the location of the purchased building.


Tue, Apr 2, 2013 : 7:27 p.m.

Yes, it was misleading. I figured with only 10 employees and only investing $50,000 that they couldn't have purchased the whole plant. I think the headlines are misleading on purpose to generate add revenue.


Tue, Apr 2, 2013 : 7:12 p.m.

Spyker, as someone who who at the Powertrain Plant I thought the picture was of the powerhouse air compressors. I too thought the whole plant had been sold at first. I couldn't place what actually had been sold until I read your comment. Thanks.

Katrease Stafford

Tue, Apr 2, 2013 : 6:23 p.m.

Hi Spyker, The lede states the company purchased the old GM Vehicle Operations Facility. I have moved up the sentence in which I wrote that the the remainder of the Willow Run property, consisting of more than 300 acres and a 5-million-square-foot manufacturing building, remains for sale.


Tue, Apr 2, 2013 : 4:52 p.m.

That sounds great. Now how do we get Delta Airlines to move its heavy maintenance back here from China?


Tue, Apr 2, 2013 : 4:45 p.m.

This is great News!


Tue, Apr 2, 2013 : 4:43 p.m.


Usual Suspect

Tue, Apr 2, 2013 : 4:34 p.m.

Good news.

Katrease Stafford

Tue, Apr 2, 2013 : 4:25 p.m.

I just followed up with a spokesperson, Bill Callen, for RACER about the purchase price. Callen said per policy, RACER does not disclose sales prices because they're covered under confidentiality agreements. However, the information will be made public soon through the township assessor's office when the sale closes by late June.