China's Wanxiang Group purchased its first equity stake in a U.S. manufacturing company in 1999. Today that number has grown to six, with estimated 2005 sales of $400 million.
The companies have plants in Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Tennessee and employ about 1,000 people, according to Michael Schaal, general manager of Wanxiang America Corp. Customers include Ford Motor Co., DaimlerChrysler, Caterpillar Inc. and Deere & Co.
Wanxiang America owns stakes in Driveline Systems LLC of Loves Park, Ill., a producer of axles; and Rockford Powertrain of Rockford, Ill., a maker of heavy-duty driveshafts.
The company also acquired 21 percent of Nasdaq-traded brake supplier Universal Automotive Industries Inc. of Alsip, Ill., but Universal was delisted and liquidated this year.
Wanxiang America manages the Wanxiang Manufacturing Fund of more than $100 million, with which it plans to continue to invest in other companies.
Wanxiang's primary U.S. business is sales and distribution. The company operates a 168,000-square-foot warehouse in Elgin, Ill., where it keeps a fast-turning 30- to 60-day supply of auto parts imported from its Chinese factories.
Wanxiang in China produces a vast product list, including bearings and driveshafts.
You may e-mail Lindsay Chappell at [email protected]