Dover, Ohio – Toyoda Gosei Co. Ltd is investing in its Meteor Sealing Systems subsidiary.
The automotive supplier of rubber weatherstrips will add a 40,000-sq.-ft. addition to its facility in Dover. General manager Thorsten Conrad said the project is in response to additional business with one of the firm's top European customers in addition to added projects from North American original equipment manufacturers.
Meteor expects its business to grow by 15 percent or so, an average of 3-5 percent over the next few years. The expansion is in progress with the building projected to be complete by the end of 2017. Equipment will be installed in the spring of 2018.
The firm is investing $5 million (€4.6 million) through 2019 on the building and the additional equipment, Conrad said. Once operational, the company will add new jobs, but Meteor is still determining an exact figure. The Dover site currently employs 300 at its 160,000-sq.-ft. facility.
“We're seeing an increase in production from our customers,” a Toyoda Gosei spokeswoman said. “That's what's driving us to expand mostly. We see that our customers have a bigger need. Their production is growing so we need to respond to that by expanding and increasing our capacity.”
The site focuses exclusively on automotive weatherstrips for SUVs, convertibles and sunroofs for primarily European and North American OEMs, but Conrad said Meteor also has some smaller programmes with Asian auto makers.
The expansion will bring at least one new extrusion line plus additional finishing equipment for Dover's injection molding capabilities, which includes its door and body weatherstrips business. Conrad said production will increase about 40 to 50 percent once the new equipment is running product.
When finished, Meteor's expanded building will occupy 14 acres of land, spanning 200,000 square feet. Conrad said the firm owns about 14 more acres to expand further should demand dictate it. He praised local authorities for their assistance in the project.
“We've been working with the city of Dover in a really close partnership here,” he said. “They've made sure that all of our paperwork and permits and everything have been processed in a very speedy manner. They also assisted us in a couple of infrastructure measures, assess to the plant and a couple of other things that were pretty helpful for us.”
Meteor produces automotive rubber sealing products—mainly weatherstrips. Toyoda Gosei acquired the company in April 2014 for about $44 million in a move that allowed TG to strengthen its business with European auto makers throughout the world. Meteor has relationships with BMW A.G. and Volkswagen Group's Audi AG subsidiary while Toyoda Gosei has strong relationships with Japanese and North American auto makers.
At the time of the acquisition, Toyoda Gosei said it intended to apply Meteor's technical capabilities throughout its network of plants to potentially grow its business with European auto makers in other regions of the world.
Conrad said Toyoda Gosei has brought process improvements through regular exchanges with other Toyoda Gosei facilities and access to resources that TG provides to all of its worldwide operations.
“We have gained a really strong parent company,” he said. “They have provided support in many areas. We have the opportunity now with TG North America to pursue business opportunities with the North American and Japanese OEMs. Prior to that we were mainly focused on the European OEMs.”
Toyoda Gosei has been busy increasing its weatherstrip production globally, most recently in Mexico. Its Toyoda Gosei Automotive Sealing Mexico SA de CV subsidiary in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, will increase weatherstrip production about 50 percent by 2020. The firm projects to increase its work force by 540 people once operational with sales to increase to $124 million annually, up from $60 million, by 2020.
It will also add 82,000-sq.-ft. to bring the Mexican factory to 523,100 square feet by 2020. That addition will be used to add trial manufacturing equipment to the facility, improving the pre-production processes. It also will provide additional team member training. Construction of the addition is projected to be finished in November.
The San Luis Potosi plant produces opening trim weatherstrips, door weatherstrips and glass runs, among other weatherstrips.
In June, Toyoda Gosei began construction of a new facility in Bawal, India, projected to be operational in March 2017. The new plant represents an $8.2 million investment, which includes constructing a 26,250-sq.-ft. building, populating it with equipment and a 65,600-sq.-ft. plot of land. The factory will produce air bags and rubber weatherstrips for Toyota, Honda and Maruti – a subsidiary of Suzuki Motor Corp.
“We're aiming to be a global supplier of choice,” the spokeswoman said. “By building globally we can better meet all of our customers' and hopefully one day more auto maker's needs worldwide. The more capacity we have, the better we can meet our customers' needs.”