Standard Products Co. plans to open its first plant in Poland this year as it tries to follow carmaker Fiat Auto S.p.A. around the globe.
The Dearborn, Mich.-based company plans to extrude plastic and rubber auto-body sealing products for Fiat's Palio world car from the plant, said Standard Products CFO Donald Sheley Jr.
The 55,000-square-foot plant will be in Bielsko-Biala, Poland, near Fiat's assembly plant in the same city.
Standard Products is initially investing between $2 million and $3 million in the plant, scheduled to open by year end, Sheley said. As work dictates in Europe, the company may expand the plant and add more extrusion lines in several years, he added.
Poland offered a low-cost location for a plant, Sheley said. The company bought land there and constructed the plant at a partially built facility.
'It gives us an important presence in the Eastern European market,' Sheley said. 'It's our intent to take advantage of that and grow the business there.'
Standard Products, a publicly traded company, ranks No. 55 on the Automotive News list of top suppliers of original equipment parts to North America.
Equity analyst Alexander Paris Sr. of Chicago-based Barrington Research Asso-ciates Inc. said the plant will put the company in a good position to serve automakers entering that region.
'These things build on each other,' said Paris. 'They'll be in Poland with Fiat, and that gives them a better chance for contracts with other automakers. Almost all expansion (by carmakers) is geared overseas right now.'
Standard Products also has a plant in Varginha, Brazil, that supplies about 2,500 sealing systems a day for the Fiat Palio hatchback and Palio Weekend station wagon. The extruder is the sole supplier to the Palio for sealing systems in Brazil, Sheley said.
The extruder would like to be the worldwide supplier for the Palio in Europe and other regions, Sheley said. 'We have to evaluate how many (plants) we can build in different areas where Fiat is going into,' he said. 'We want to go forward with the company.'
Palio models, which also include a sedan, are assembled at plants in Brazil and Argentina, said New York-based Fiat spokesman Paolo Vannini. The Palio hatchback will start production in Poland later this year, he said.
Standard Products, which employs more than 10,000 people at 40 plants, recorded $1.11 billion in sales in fiscal year 1997.