DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. plans to shed the last line of business in nine-year-old Automotive Component Holdings LLC by December when ACH closes its Sheldon Road climate control plant in suburban Detroit and lays off its last 257 employees.
The subsidiary created by Ford on Oct. 1, 2005 to take over plant operations from former in-house parts supplier Visteon Corp., has been gradually shifting its heating, ventilation and cooling production work to Detroit Thermal Systems LLC. Detroit Thermal Systems is a minority-owned joint venture between V. Johnson Enterprises LLC and French supplier Valeo SA created in late 2012, and maintains a 365,000 square-foot plant in Romulus.
The ACH plant in Plymouth Township, Mich., also housed some former ACH radiator business that Ford was able to place with other suppliers some time ago, leaving only the HVAC business that was moving to Detroit Thermal Systems, said Janet O’Brien, manager of human resources for ACH. The last of that business should leave the Plymouth facility in mid-December, causing ACH to lay off the remaining employees and close the plant, she said.
The company is letting go of 166 hourly workers and 91 salaried employees, according to a notice obtained earlier this month by the state Workforce Development Agency under the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act. O’Brien, who filed the notice, said Detroit Thermal Systems has so far absorbed more than 400 former ACH employees buying the HVAC business in 2012 -- but it was not immediately clear if the Romulus plant would employ the remainder working in Plymouth.
Visteon spun off from Ford in 2000, and filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in May 2009. It emerged from bankruptcy protection in October 2010.
Ford formed ACH to assume operation of 23 former Visteon plants in offices to prevent a massive parts shortage, when Visteon was strugging to remain solvent. Since then, ACH has been tasked with selling off or redistributing those businesses.
Vinnie Johnson, CEO of The Piston Group and partner with Valeo at the Romulus plant, could not be immediately reached for comment. An executive assistant contacted by Crain’s Detroit Business, an affiliate of Automotive News, confirmed that Detroit Thermal Systems has been handling that ACH legacy business in Romulus but was unfamiliar with the WARN notice.
The federal act generally requires companies with more than 100 employees notify state and local government officials 60 days before closing a plant or building or laying off that affect more than 50 employees. But a notice can often mean a business has lost a contract to another company who will assume those contract’s employees, or transfer jobs elsewhere.
Dawn Booker, communications manager for Ford Motor Land Development Corp. in Dearborn, and O’Brien both confirmed that Ford Land will take possession of the Sheldon Road plant as part of the automaker’s real estate subsidiary land portfolio, after the plant closing. Plans for the Plymouth facility after ACH are still in development, she said.
“There’s not a fully formed plan yet. At this point, the focus is on transitioning the last of the business out of that plant and getting prepared for closing,” she said.
Ford created two new minority-owned joint ventures in 2012 to assume some ACH business -- Detroit Thermal and Detroit Manufacturing Systems LLC, co-owned by Andra Rush and French supplier Faurecia SA.
In the Detroit Manufacturing deal, Faurecia assumed partial operation of the ACH Saline plant and transferred a bulk of the $1 billion interiors business to the Detroit Manufacturing plant in Detroit.
Urbana, Ill.-based Flex-N-Gate Corp., owned by Pakistani-born Shahid Khan, acquired an Ohio ACH lighting and air storage plant in 2012, leaving Sheldon Road as the final piece in the ACH puzzle.