DETROIT -- As troubled U.S. suppliers move to enlarge overseas operations and shrink their business at home, a large French company is moving aggressively to gain business in North America.
Faurecia, which specializes in seats, cockpits, front ends, door modules and exhausts, announced a major expansion this month. It plans to add five plants and enlarge a sixth in the United States this year.
The plants, in the Detroit area, Ohio and South Carolina, will cost $300 million and add about 2,000 employees.
Faurecia CEO Pierre Levi told Automotive News that the company sees an opportunity in North America because of the troubles faced by some domestic suppliers.
"We don't have those legacy issues" that U.S. suppliers do, Levi said.
Faurecia is not well known in the United States. Although it ranks No. 9 on the Automotive News list of the top 100 global suppliers with worldwide original-equipment automotive parts sales of $13.3 billion in 2004, Faurecia ranks No. 42 on the list of the top 150 suppliers to North America with sales of $1.28 billion for that year.
Levi said Faurecia is expanding fast in North America. Sales were $1.5 billion in 2005 and will grow to $2.5 billion by 2009, he said. The company now operates 17 plants and three technical centers in North America that have 7,000 hourly and 2,000 salaried employees.
James Orchard, president of Faurecia's North American operations, said the company's innovation capability and cost base make it competitive here.
"Our strategy is to grow organically," he said, adding that the company would not rule out buying assets if the circumstances were right.