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Faurecia Opens $30 Million NA Headquarters

Executive Summary

Since auto sales and production began recovering, the supplier has gone from about 20 manufacturing sites in North America to 47.

AUBURN HILLS, MI – Capping five years of rapid growth where it tripled in size in the region, French auto supplier Faurecia this week celebrated the opening of its $30 million North American headquarters and automotive seating technical center in suburban Detroit.

The 278,000-sq.-ft. (25,827-sq.-m) facility houses 700 employees. In addition to administrative space and specialized training areas, it includes a prototype metal shop; trim development lab; just-in-time manufacturing lab; structural testing lab; environmental testing chambers; noise, vibration and harshness and electrical labs; and a semi-anechoic chamber for sound testing.

The new building consolidates activities that had been taking place in numerous separate locations, says Faurecia North America President Mike Heneka. For instance, seating operations were in five different buildings, “which is not a good way for platform teams to work together,” he says.

Faurecia says it is the world’s seventh-largest auto supplier, with four business units related to automotive seating, emissions-control technologies, interior systems and automotive exteriors. In 2013 it posted sales of $24 billion globally and $6.25 billion in North America. It employs more than 20,000 at locations in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

Further Capacity Expansion Paused Until 2016

Unlike most auto suppliers in North America, Faurecia is relatively new to the region and it did not get stuck with huge amounts of excess capacity and suffer catastrophic losses during the economic crises of 2008-2009.

Since auto sales and production began recovering, the supplier has gone from about 20 manufacturing sites in the U.S., Mexico and Canada to 47.

While many analysts predict auto sales and production will continue to climb steadily, especially in the U.S., CEO Yann Delabriere says Faurecia currently has enough capacity to meet demand and it has no plans to add capacity for the next 18 months.

The breather will last until the end of 2015, Delabriere says. “Then we will resume more active growth in North America.”

However, it doesn’t sound like anyone is penciling in vacation time at the supplier.

Chrysler, a major customer, has just signaled the Sterling Heights, MI, plant that builds the Chrysler 200 will be working the next 17 weekends in a row, and many Faurecia plants already are working around-the-clock, seven days a week, Heneka says.

Brick-and-mortar expansions usually are tied to contracts to supply new-vehicle programs and in that sense, Faurecia has adequate capacity.

“Most of the additions we have now are based on new programs that we know are coming. The programs we’re on, we’re ok for now,” Heneka says. “The dilemma with that is people get tired of working seven days a week.”


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