MFG’s Role in America’s Most Beautiful Automobile
Robert Morrison, founder of MFG, is renowned for the creative development of the molded fiber glass (MFG) process for Corvette's fiberglass body. In 1954, the Chevrolet Corvette became the first production automobile with a molded fiber glass reinforced plastic body after Morrison convinced General Motors that reinforced plastic had a use in the automotive industry.
Glen Warner, a 30-year MFG veteran recalls the legendary "elevator incident." Morrison had come to Detroit to discuss what his company could do to support GM, but the two purchasing people he was to meet were locked in discussions with suppliers about steel body components. As Morrison departed, the elevator opened upon Purchasing Director Elmer Gormesen, who announced that the decision went down the day before to make the car of steel. He explained that GM was hesitant about fiberglass because it anticipated 10,000 units, and no sufficient fiberglass capacity existed. Morrison assured Gormesen that MFG and Owens Corning could come through.
Morrison had other business in Detroit that day and didn't return home to Ashtabula, OH until 1:30 a.m. the next day. That's when he learned from Gormesen that GM had made a turnabout decision to go with fiberglass!
When Chevrolet agreed to proceed, Morrison initiated all of the necessary financing, production facilities, engineering support, tooling and production personnel to make it happen. He partnered with automotive engineers as well as raw material suppliers to resolve Chevrolet's concerns about a production site, equipment and scheduling.
As the cooperative process developed, the basement of Morrison's home became an impromptu design center for the 1953 Corvette fiberglass parts. MFG employees and GM's engineers worked side by side on a ping-pong table until suitable business space was established.
Recalling those days in a memoir written around 1980, Morrison observed: "I believe, but cannot prove, that Chevrolet would have completely cancelled the Corvette if the Ford Thunderbird had not been such a big success."
MFG has continuously produced fiberglass composite parts for the Corvette since 1954. In 2003, Robert S. Morrison was posthumously inducted into the prestigious Corvette Hall of Fame.