Woodbridge forms venture with Farmer

Canadian auto supplier Woodbridge Group is joining forces with Farmer Group to create a joint venture company that will focus on energy management inside the vehicle.

Enerflex Solutions LLC of Troy, Mich., will specialize in all sorts of protection products, whether the padding comes from expanded foam, thermoplastic ribs or a honeycombed metal.

The company will manufacture its own parts, but for now it will contract with existing processors. The venture will start by designing, engineering, testing and assembling components.

"We're going to be non-biased in finding the right material for the solution," said Mike Morelli, sales and marketing director. "We know there isn't any one product that does everything. We would do a disservice to our customer to not offer all of the options."

Woodbridge of Mississauga, Ontario, owns 49 percent of the joint venture, with Farmer Group of Pontiac, Mich., holding the majority stake. Farmer Group, headed by Forest Farmer, is a holding company. The joint venture has applied for minority-owned status.

The company is built around new federal standards that require some kind of head impact protection at certain points inside vehicle, such as under the headliner where the pillars and roof meet. Because those joints require strong welds, the cars need some kind of padding.

A mix of companies have offered up a variety of products to provide that protection, ranging from thermoformed and injection molded collapsible caps to expanded foam and a spring-like metal matrix.

Any one vehicle could require a mixture of padding, Morelli said.

Enerflex Solutions, which takes its name from Woodbridge's own polyurethane and expanded polystyrene brand, will work with carmakers and interior integrators to design systems early in the vehicle planning stages, he said.

The company is operating out of a facility that once served as a Woodbridge office, and which also has more than 18,000 square feet reserved for manufacturing.

You can reach Rhoda Miel at rmiel@crain.com

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