FRANKFURT, Germany—Tristone Flowtech Group GmbH closed out a strong 2017 on a high note with record sales, the launch of a new hose plant in Mexico and completion of construction of another facility in India.
Now the company is prepping to expand further in 2018—this time in the U.S. with the construction of a factory in North Carolina, according to Guenter Froelich, Tristone president and CEO.
While details still are pretty sketchy at this point, the group's newest production facility will be housed in Mooresville, which is located in Iredell County in North Carolina. Construction of the plant is expected to begin in April, Froelich said.
It will serve the U.S. and Canadian passenger car markets, and the factory's product portfolio will include engine cooling hose systems, air charge hose systems and fluid battery cooling systems.
Froelich said a plant in the U.S. market is needed to help handle the firm's growing business contracts with all major passenger car customers in the NAFTA region. The company anticipates strong growth in the region this year and beyond, especially in the U.S. and Canada.
More details on the new U.S. facility will be forthcoming in the next few months, Froelich said.
Tristone's newest factory will give it two in North America.
In April 2017, the company completed the move to a newly built 175,000-sq.-ft. hose system production facility in Delicias, Mexico, from a smaller plant in the city, more than doubling its available manufacturing space. After the firm finalized the move it closed the old site.
Throughout the remainder of 2017, the company continued to invest heavily in the factory, adding hose extrusion lines and a variety of other machinery.
Producing engine cooling, battery cooling and air charge hose systems, the factory currently employs about 900. The complex makes products for Ford, General Motors, Volkswagen, FiatChrysler, BMW and some Tier I customers.
In addition to the new site in Mexico and the planned facility in the U.S., the company finished building a plant in India last year. Froelich said the structure currently is in a start-up phase and is delivering prototypes with plastic surge tanks and engine cooling hose systems to customers.
He said the start of product manufacturing at the Indian factory will begin in April. The facility spans about 38,000 square feet. It produces engine cooling and air charge hose systems as well as plastic surge tanks for the Indian market.
Tristone has been able to expand with the addition of new plants principally because it has been experiencing strong revenue growth.
Based in Frankfurt, the company recorded sales of about $355.8 million in 2017, up 16 percent from the previous year, with new business contracts amounting to $115 million, a record for the firm.
Froelich noted that the new business contracts totaled about $687.7 million in lifetime sales, or contracts that span, for example, six years.
Tristone's 16 percent sales growth in 2017 was mainly driven by gains of 109 percent the company made in the NAFTA region, followed by growth in the European region of 7 percent and consistent sales in China due to the phase-out of programs in that region, the company said.
Its revenue boost in the U.S. and the rest of the NAFTA region helped set the stage for the creation of the planned U.S. manufacturing facility.
New contracts for fluid battery cooling applications for electrical passenger and hybrid cars led to $29.4 million in sales, or lifetime revenues of about $176.6 million, and are spread among 11 global original equipment manufacturers and one battery manufacturer, Froelich said.
Contracts for battery cooling applications reached 26 percent of total awards, "demonstrating the strong position of the group in this business field," he said.
"Tristone's year-end equity ratio of 47 percent to total assets, together with the positive net cash position of the group, lays a solid foundation for further growth, further internationalization and increased R&D efforts to follow technology trends," according to Sonja Rossteuscher-Schutze, who has served as chief financial officer of the group since November 2017.
Tristone projected further growth of about 7 percent in 2018, to more than $380.5 million.
The former Fluid Automotive business of Trelleborg A.B. that was spun off and became a stand-alone business in mid-2010, Tristone was purchased by the Chinese Zhongding Group in February 2017 but continues to be managed under the Tristone name and corporate structure.