FAIRVIEW, Mich.—Cooper Standard Automotive Inc. is expanding both domestically and overseas on the heels of a strong second quarter.
In July, the firm opened its 90,000-sq.-ft. addition to its operations in Fairview. Then in August, Cooper Standard opened two facilities in China—in Kunshan and in Shenyang.
The firm will invest $6.5 million at Fairview and create 177 jobs. The facility almost exclusively focuses on producing transmission oil cooler lines. Bill Pumphrey, Cooper Standard North American president, said Cooper Standard is the largest supplier of transmission oil cooler lines to Ford Motor Co.
The Fairview plant opened in 1973 and spans 120,000 square feet with 275 employees.
Cooper Standard's expansion is largely because of increased business with Ford across several platforms, including the new F-series of trucks, Pumphrey said. The executive also identified continued growth in automatic transmission use in vehicles worldwide as another reason for the addition.
“Our relationship with Ford goes back many, many years with this kind of product,” the executive said. “The quality and the capability of our team in Fairview have been very strong, and much of the product is shipped all over the world. As global demand for global transmissions grows, so does the need for this kind of product.”
Cooper Standard used the expansion as an opportunity to improve efficiencies and instituted its one-piece-flow manufacturing process, which focuses on building one part at a time throughout a set of steps as opposed to making parts in batches.
Pumphrey said Cooper Standard continues to expand its lean manufacturing initiatives in other plants as well.
“You've got to be able to put in an entire philosophy and strategy on how you establish your equipment, your tooling, teaching your operators on how to do this and why it's important,” he said. “Lean manufacturing doesn't happen overnight, but certainly this team understands it, embraces it and is doing a good job of moving it forward.”
The firm worked closely with the state of Michigan and the Michigan Economic Development Corp. in the expansion effort. Pumphrey said the facility previously underwent smaller expansions, but not one as comprehensive.
“This plant knows how to make this product,” Pumphrey said. “They have a reputation of quality that Ford Motor Co. really respected, wanted and liked. It took a partnership with our government to help keep the jobs in Michigan and make the investment worthwhile. And it helped being close to our corporate headquarters so we could use this showcase for lean manufacturing concepts. This team is a great team of people, and they earned it.”