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Trim deal boosts Collins' capabilities

With its pending purchase of Textron Automotive Co.'s trim unit, Collins & Aikman Corp. hopes to lead a revolution in the auto industry's supply chain.

Last week, Collins & Aikman, of Troy, Mich., agreed to purchase the Textron unit for about $1.24 billion in cash and stock. Collins & Aikman itself is 60 percent controlled by Heartland Industrial Partners, a private equity firm.

The deal extensively boosts Collins & Aikman's capability to mold everything from instrument panels to exterior trim. The company also is marketing itself as a 'mega Tier 2' supplier, specializing in production rather than integration.

The strategy is aimed at turning Collins & Aikman into the prime contractor for automotive interiors, CEO Thomas Evans said.

While interior giants such as Lear Corp. and Johnson Controls Inc. battle to bring electronics and telematics into cars, Collins & Aikman will be there to make parts for both companies, their competitors and the automakers still producing modules internally.

Said Evans: 'I wanted to have a strategy from the beginning that had a shot at making everybody our customer.'

You can reach Rhoda Miel at rmiel@crain.com

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