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Ford Sells Michigan, Mexico Plants

Ford Motor Co. announced that it has entered into agreements with two companies to sell Michigan and Mexico auto parts plants.

The companies are Flex-N-Gate Corp. and Cooper-Standard Automotive Inc. The former is a privately held manufacturing company based in Urbana, Illinois. It has agreed to purchase the operation in Milan, about 35 miles southwest of Detroit. The plant is utilized by the automaker in the production of automotive grills and bumpers. According to the automaker, the auto parts plant includes salaried employees leased from Visteon Corp. and United Auto Workers union hourly employees leased from Ford.

Meanwhile, Cooper-Standard Automotive Inc., headquartered in Novi, agreed to purchase the Jarudo automotive fuel rail factory of the automaker in Mexico. Said factory has about 500 workers. Cooper-Standard is a world leader automotive supplier that specializes in the manufacture and marketing of systems and components for the auto industry. Ford had agreed to sell its climate-control business to a French automotive supply company named Valeo SA. The automotive operation is based at a plant in Plymouth Township. Al Ver, Automotive Components Holdings chief executive officer and chief operating officer said, "We're on the right track."

In connection with the plant's sale to Flex-N-Gate, Steve Stamper, president of UAW Local 600 at the Michigan fuel tank plant said, "It's better than being closed." The plants were previously part of Visteon, the automaker's parts wing that eventually become a separate company in 2000. In 2005, the automaker bought back some plants and created Automotive Components Holdings LLC. It is now responsible for producing automotive and architectural glass, chassis, auto interior, powertrain components, and Ford climate control. Said holding company operates 10 plants in the United States and 3 in Mexico.

Aside from selling parts plants, Ford is also absorbed in global restructuring. Mark Fields, president of Ford Motor Co.'s Americas division, said that global restructuring of the automaker's management team will help give him the resources he needs to turn around the company's struggling North American business. Fields added that the reorganization will allow Ford to better leverage its global product development resources. However, he said that it will take years for the effort to bear its full fruits. "It accelerates getting our products to market as we share architecture and components," Fields said.

About the Author: Jason Moore, a 35 year old freelance writer from Austin, Texas. He also works as a marketing analyst for an established auto parts store in the country.

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