Novi, Michigan – Cooper Standard Automotive Inc. is drastically increasing its global technical capabilities and North American manufacturing presence with a variety of moves.
The firm plans to open a new North American innovation centre in Livonia, Mich., nearly doubling the size and scope of its current centre in nearby Farmington Hills. Chief Operating Officer Keith Stephenson said the facility is set to open in October.
In a separate move, Cooper Standard is investing $1 million (€850,000) to expand its manufacturing capabilities for coolant tube and hose assemblies, transmission cooling lines, and fuel and brake lines at Surgoinsville, Tenn., in response to customer growth. The firm confirmed that the project will create about 98 new jobs.
Finally, the company celebrated the opening of both a test and a prototype center in Shanghai to support growth in the Asia-Pacific region. Stephenson said the project represents a $5.8 million investment and expects employment to reach about 100 engineers in the coming months.
"We've seen our core customers making investments in that region," Stephenson said of Asia-Pacific. "As we see them invest in that region, we want to make investments to help support them as well as develop very strong relationships with the local Chinese car companies. We see this global car company customer base and this regional car company customer base, and we want to support both with our core product lines. This has been a very positive journey for Cooper Standard and it's very important to us as we try to grow our business globally. We've put our money where our mouth is in terms of investment and reaping benefits for our company and our shareholders."
Stephenson said the firm's new technical center will include all of the employees at the Farmington Hills facility. Employment will increase, but the firm still is finalising total employment numbers as the project is nearing completion.
Investment details were not disclosed.
"As our business has grown and our investment into innovation has grown, we decided to expand our footprint and our capabilities," Stephenson said. "We're in the process of completing a new innovation center. We are moving into a new facility in Livonia and we think it's going to be a very unique facility. It will go from the molecule development all the way through to the product and everything in between."
Cooper Standard currently operates regional centers in Farmington Hills for North America; Lindau, Germany, for Europe; and Shanghai for Asia-Pacific. Stephenson said the new center in Livonia will nearly double the size and include enhanced capabilities compared to its current facility.
"Each of our facilities have unique capabilities," Stephenson said. "This, in terms of sealing and material research sides of our business, will be our leading facility in the world. But each of our facilities have unique capabilities where we home room certain technologies they develop.
"Our three facilities are world-class," he added. "We're really pleased now within each major region of the world to have what we think are world-class testing and development facilities for our customers. That's a point of pride for us."
As for Tennessee, a spokeswoman said the investment is geared toward adding to its current facility in response to increased demand for fluid transfer and fuel and brake products—both of which are produced using rubber and plastic compounds. Once complete, the site will employ about 500 people.