Dallas Works Memorial - History Western Electric

Western Electric plant in Mesquite Western Electric Occupying Plant (Dallas Times Herald 07/19/1970) Western Electric is beginning to move into its huge new 784,000 square foot plant in Mesquite. The sheer size of the plant--it's as big as 16 football fields, or 18 acres, under roof--ranks it among the biggest manufacturing facilities in Dallas County. The plant was announced with great fanfare some 18 months ago. But Bob Cowley, manager, and his staff have deliberately kept quiet about what's going on since then so that they could hire and train a nucleus work force and see that the plant is built on time. Cowley and his staff showed the plant to a small group of business leaders and newsmen last week for the first time. The new Western Electric plant here, already increased 50 per cent is size from its original 500,000 square foot projected size, will be the only Western Electric facility devoted solely to the manu- facture of Electronic Switching System equipment. The company is already operating pilot manufacturing lines and a training program two smaller building in Skyline Industrial District where the big plant is being built. It will turn those smaller buildings back to developers of the district by mid-1971 when it will be entirely moved into the new manufacturing plant. Western Electric employment here now totals about 800, with an expected total of 1300 by the end of this year and 2500 by the end of 1971. The pilot manufacturing operation is already pro- ducing some 20 "frames" a week now. The big plant will produce about 400 a week when it reaches peak production. A "frame" is basic telephone switching equipment. Most of the hiring for the new Dallas facility is being done locally. A nucleus of top management personnel was transferred to Dallas from Western Electric facilities elsewhere, but the great majority of people who will work at the plant are being hired here. The company, which is the manufacturing and supply unit of the Bell System, has redone the interior of a bus to make it into a portable employment office. It is moved to different popu- lation centers within the county for spot personnel interviews. Response to this hiring innovation officials say, has been good. The Electronic Switching System equipment which Western Electric will make here was described by one executive as "the wave of the future." Although existing telephone equipment will continue to be used and repaired for years, new installations will all make use of this new-type equipment. The company says that his new system "will revolutionize communi- cations in the United States." "The heart of the new telephone network is ESS, the Electronic Switching System. In terms of research, development, training and manufacture, it represents the largest single under-taking of the Bell Telephone System. ESS provides the groundwork for the future, for the vast expansion in the nation's telephone network that will be needed in the decades to come. It will make possible also the introduction of new, customized telephone services that will be available to customers of the Bell Telephone companies." THE BIG 784,000 square foot building will be occupied over the next 10 months or so in stages as the various areas are completed. A warehouse area is completed now and is completed now and is partially occupied. Manufacturing areas will be finished next, with offices and cafeterias to be completed last. The plant will be rimmed by parking areas. The company bought 150 acres of land for the plant, one of four in the nation which make ESS equipment. Only 100 acres will be used initially. Asked about possible future expansion, one executive pointed out that there is ample land available when needed and that Western Electric has a history of expanding existing facilities as demand for products increases. aerial view of Western Electric plant in Mesquite