Nearly everything familiar about the Corvette sports car — its iconic swooping lines, its shapely curves, its light weight — may never have come to pass if Robert Morrison had taken the stairs.
Morrison, founder of Molded Fiber Glass Cos., had traveled to General Motors Corp.'s Detroit headquarters from MFG operations in Ashtabula, Ohio, in 1953, hoping to hear the automaker had decided to take a chance and make its new dream car in fiberglass.
But his contact was not in the office, he later wrote. Morrison, who died in 2002, was facing a long drive back home and waiting at the elevator when the elevator opened and GM purchasing manager Elmer Gormsen stepped out. He pulled Morrison aside to tell him GM had decided to go with a steel body for the Corvette. The carmaker just wasn't certain that the fiberglass industry was ready to make cars.
Morrison was not ready to give up, though. He borrowed a phone and contacted Harold Boeschenstein, the president of Owens Corning, who gave his guarantee to finance construction of a production line at MFG that would be big enough to suit GM's needs.
He made the sale, changing not only MFG's future, but also launching an entire business model for composites in the auto industry.
“We're proud of that heritage,” said Keith Bihary, MFG automotive sales manager.