Nearly six months ago, Trent Brining learned he was going to be the recipient of one of the first new 2016 Chevrolet Malibus produced at the General Motors Fairfax Assembly Plant in Kansas City, Kan.
The Malibu was going to be presented on Dec. 8 – for free – to Brining and his wife, Samantha. In starting the marketing campaign for the 2016 Malibu, GM wanted to reward a loyal customer who was also a veteran.
Through the years, Brining, 34, has bought a Silverado, a Captiva and a Cruze. His devotion to the Chevy brand was obvious.
Even though he anticipated this day for months, when Tuesday arrived, Brining had the look of a 10-year-old on Christmas Day when he slowly guided his new white 2016 Malibu off the assembly line at the Fairfax Assembly Plant.
Trent and Samantha smiled inside the Malibu as cameras flashed, television cameras recorded the moment and GM workers and officials looked on.
“It was really cool, surreal,” Trent said. “I am so thankful for everyone at GM, Chevrolet and Heartland Chevrolet in Liberty. I am so grateful for what they have done and how great they have been to me and my family.
“It is something you would never anticipate happening to you. What a beautiful car and a great blessing this is. It still doesn’t seem real.”
Samantha said receiving the Malibu means a lot to their family. Trent and Samantha, who live in Kearney, have a son who will turn 2 years old later this month.
“No car payment is incredible,” Samantha said. “We worked really hard the last year to get debt-free. We are still working on it. We have made so much progress, and this is going to help us.”
Fairfax Assembly Plant manager Bill Kulhanek said Trent was perfect for this vehicle giveaway.
“Trent is a very loyal Chevrolet customer,” Kulhanek said. “Another thing is he was a service man who has been serving our country and defending our freedom. It was a good combination.
“We looked through our loyal customer base, and based upon our loyal customers, we tried to find the right fit for the vehicle giveaway here in the states, and Trent fit perfectly.”
From 2003 through 2005, Trent served in Iraq in the Army infantry.
“I think it speaks volumes about GM and Chevy and how much they do care and what they are willing to do and how invested they are in the community, not only this plant but finding someone local and doing something this cool,” Trent said.
Tuesday’s ceremony meant just as much to the workers at the Fairfax Assembly Plant.
Leo Carrillo, the chairman for the UAW Local 31 Veterans Committee who is nearing his 16th year working for GM, thought it was outstanding that one of the first 2016 Malibus was given away to a veteran.
“I hope that he gets as much joy as it was for me, many other veterans and all the people who work here to be able to build it and give it to a well-deserving hero,” said Carrillo, who served in the Marines Corps from 1994 to 2002.
“I think we are all very proud of the work we do here. We build the best products that we can to get out to the market for everybody to use them with their family and to travel.”
Carrillo said it was a thrill just to see how excited Trent was when he received the Malibu.
The Brinings weren’t the only ones excited to get behind the wheel of the new 2016 Malibu and drive away from the Fairfax Assembly Plant at 3201 Fairfax Trafficway in Kansas City, Kan.
As part of the kickoff to the marketing campaign for the new car, the keys to 25 Malibus were handed to Kansas City Chevrolet dealers, who drove them to their locations.
“It is a huge day,” Kulhanek said. “We are launching the brand new Malibu, which is a very impressive vehicle from styling to performance standpoints to big safety features. It is a very important launch for General Motors. It is a very good day for us.”