DETROIT - American Yazaki Corp.'s plans for a new $61 million corporate headquarters will make for a smoother-run company, its president says.
The supplier of electrical distribution systems has been based in Canton Township, west of Detroit, since 1985. But the 800 employees there have been split between two buildings. The new center will let the company unify its research, technology and engineering operations under one roof, along with sales, finance and accounting and personnel offices. It will accommodate a staff of 1,300.
President Tetsuro Suzuki said splitting systems 'kills efficiency' and hampers communication. He noted that plans for the new center, announced this month, have been inspired by local integrated operations like Chrysler Corp.'s technical center in Auburn Hills, Mich., and the Toyota Technical Center U.S.A. in Ann Arbor, Mich.
The Yazaki site will be organized into a number of self-contained customer zones. Each unit will be responsible for multiple projects and mix various disciplines. Sales, planning, engineering and production control will all be performed within each area.
Yazaki also will expand its testing areas with new types of analysis, greater capacity and added space. Chief Engineer Kurt Zielske said the number of research and development employees could grow to 550 by 2000, up from 350 today.
Suzuki said the new facility will enhance his company's image as a big player in the North American supplier market and perhaps allow Yazaki to better compete with rival Delphi Automotive Systems, the world's biggest supplier.
The North American arm of Japan-based Yazaki Corp. has had a presence in the United States since 1966, when it began selling instruments and gauges out of Chicago.
American Yazaki worked its way into the automotive market in 1972 by supplying wiring harnesses for some Ford Motor Co. vehicles. By last year, half its $1.8 billion in sales were Big 3 projects. It now has 50 sites in the United States, Canada and Mexico, and it ranks No. 21 on the Automotive News list of top original equipment suppliers to North America.
When the new headquarters is completed, American Yazaki will have three major buildings at the Canton Township location. Present facilities will be used for additional testing and warehouse space.
The new four-story, 419,000-square-foot headquarters building is scheduled to be completed in December 1998.