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Tristone continues growth spurt by adding Detroit unit

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FRANKFURT, Germany—Expansions into more regions during the last two years are beginning to play a significant role in the growth of hose and belt maker Tristone Flowtech Group GmbH.

Its latest addition—a new engineering and sales operation in Detroit—was added to Tristone's growing network of business units in September to broaden the company's reach, especially in the automotive sector, according to Guenter Froelich, president and CEO of the Frankfurt-based company.

Tristone wanted "to support our existing automotive customers in the U.S., which are as of today BMW, VW, Bosch, Chrysler, GM and Ford with a local engineering and sales company in Detroit," he said.

The company does not have a factory in the U.S., but it does have a 118,400-sq.-ft. plant in Mexico. Tristone established that operation, which supports the NAFTA region, in mid-2011.

The new engineering and sales office is the firm's only one in the U.S., Froelich said.

Tristone's goal with the new operation is to support further bus-- iness growth within the NAFTA region, he said.

That addition came on the heels of the firm's expansion into China. It completed construction of a hose factory in Shuzhou, located 62 miles northwest of Shanghai, earlier this year. Construction of the 91,500-sq.-ft. plant was finalized in February, and it began manufacturing engine and battery cooling hose systems along with charge hose in the third quarter, primarily supplying systems to Volvo.

In 2012, it completed refurbishing a purchased plant in Delicias, Mexico, added machinery and began producing fluid cooling hoses. The firm added battery cooling hoses and systems to the mix recently.

Tristone expanded into India in April 2012 when it signed a technical assistance agreement with Bony Polymers Ltd., a producer of rubber products for the automotive industry, which serves as a basis for eventually establishing a manufacturing operation in the country.

Despite an ongoing weak European automotive passenger car market, the company recorded sales growth of about 7 percent in both the second and third quarters of 2013. It expects sales for the year to hit $248.1 million, up from $232.5 million in 2012, Froelich said.

He said he anticipates further sales improvement—based on internal growth due to booked business—of more than 15 percent to about $289.5 million in 2014.

The sales growth is "driven by the internationalization of the group and its established manufacturing footprint in NAFTA, China and the collaboration with (the) Indian automotive supplier group," the executive said.