April 12, 2023 - GM Lake Orion  UAW Local 5960 members from the Orion paint shop gathered on the construction site of the new paint shop to commemorate the placing of the last structural steel beam atop the new shop. The team was able to sign the beam along with top seniority employee in the paint shop Ron Robinson (Paint Mix Group) with a stellar 52 years at GM!

Iron Workers Local 25 and the Operating Engineers 324 skillfully completed the task while paying close attention to the speed of the wind. The wind speed reached 25 mph at one point with speeds of 30 mph being deemed as too dangerous for the height.

The new paint shop boasts a footprint of 1.2 million square feet and is three stories.

Members of the team questioned why there was a tree being strapped to the beam? Well it turns out, the last steel beam placed is a major milestone in the evolution of a building project. This milestone is commemorated by painting the beam white and having the steel erection crew, construction team, designers, owners and other dignitaries sign the beam for posterity. The beam is typically adorned with a small evergreen tree and an American flag on opposite ends of the beam. This custom celebrates the construction process and is viewed as the first introduction of the building to the public. It uniquely honors the accomplishments of the construction crew and is reminiscent of old fashion, barnraising celebrations.

The tree is the key symbol. In the steel trade, it signifies construction has reached the sky without loss of life or injury and it bodes well for the future inhabitants of the building. Throughout history, the tree appears to have conveyed different meanings to different people. It is believed to date back to 700 A.D. when Scandinavians topped their newly completed structures with sheathes of grain for Odin’s horse, Slepnir. Odin, supposedly impressed with this consideration for his horse bestowed good luck on the future inhabitants. It was also a signal to those nearby that it was time to start the celebration of a job well done.