Wescast Industries Inc. is building a new $60 million factory this year in its hometown of Wingham, Ontario. The producer of iron exhaust manifolds sees a promising future. Its two factories already knock out more than 11 million manifolds a year. The new one will add another 4 million.
What's more, Wescast has no plans to merge. No plans to sell out. No plans to broaden its business lines. And, in short, no plans to change its way of business.
'We're shipping a million units to Europe this year,' reports Jim Slattery, vice president of corporate development. 'There is a large opportunity there for us. We believe there is also still room to grow in North America, especially among the new domestics,' he says, referring to Europe-an and Japanese transplant auto-makers.
But can Wescast stand alone in an era when parts companies are forming alliances with their competitors and developing systems approaches to components?
'We're Tier 1 on most programs right now,' Slattery says. 'The manifold is perceived as a powertrain component, in many cases, and powertrain is one area of the vehicle that most automakers indicate they will be keeping in-house.'
But what about the accepted wisdom that a supplier has to have engineering resources in every major market in order to be able to serve every major automaker?
'As long as we're prepared to expand to meet our customers' expectations, as long as we're prepared to deliver what our customer wants, there's no need for us to be bought out by somebody else,' Slattery reasons. 'In fact, our customers tell us they like it that we're focused on only one product. We know manifolds.'