Megasupplier Johnson Controls Inc.'s new joint venture with minority-owned Plastech Engineered Products Inc. is the kind of supplier tie-up that automakers like.
The new joint-venture company, TrimQuest LLC, will mold and assemble plastic headliners and overhead systems for Ford Motor Co. beginning in May.
'It's a unique partnership,' said TrimQuest General Manager Mike Melinn. 'A family-owned precision molder is linking arms with a huge powerhouse in the industry. Johnson Controls can take advantage of Plastech's molding expertise and help them grow.'
The venture is partly a response to carmakers' call to boost minority parts sourcing. Ford has asked its Tier 1 suppliers to provide at least 5 percent of their assembled parts from minority companies, said Ford spokesman Ron Iori.
Johnson Controls already buys nearly 10 percent of its parts from minority-owned companies, said Johnson Controls spokesman David Roznowski.
Plastech, of Dearborn, Mich., owns 51 percent of the joint venture. The remainder is held by Milwaukee-based Johnson Controls, working from its automotive headquarters in Plymouth, Mich. The move was announced March 23.
Initial contracts will be worth $100 million to $500 million, Roznowski said.
Overhead systems typically include a headliner, sun visors, grab handles, overhead map lighting and an overhead console, he said.
TrimQuest will open a 105,000-square-foot headliner plant in Walker, Mich., in May, Melinn said. The Walker plant also will house TrimQuest's offices and will have about 145 hourly and salaried employees.
TrimQuest also plans to open a second plant, in Ohio, by August for assembly work, Melinn said. The company is still negotiating details on a potential site. The Ohio plant is expected to be about 50,000 square feet and employ more than 50 people.
TrimQuest will start by making headliners and overhead systems for the 1999 Ford Crown Victoria sedan. By August, the new plants will also supply parts for Ford's 1999 Econoline van, F-series pickup and the Mercury Grand Marquis sedan and Villager minivan.