Vintech opening auto extrusion plants in Georgia, Portugal

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Photo by Vintech Industries Inc. Vintech's new facility in Carregado, Portugal.

Vintech Industries Inc. is making progress on becoming a global Tier 2 automotive supplier. The Imlay City, Michigan–company is preparing to open two new manufacturing plants, in Newnan, Georgia. and Carregado, Portugal.

"Going back a couple of years ago, we realised that our strategy should be to become a dedicated global Tier 2 supplier, supplying Tier 1 needs anywhere in the world," said CEO Jim Schoonover, in a telephone interview.

"Our customers are supplying systems to global vehicles — in the US, in Asia and in Europe. We're able to support each one of those Tier 1 customers, anywhere in the world, for the first time. It's very exciting to finally be able to do that," he said.

Vintech makes extruded seals and moulding, as well as insert moulded parts, at plants in Michigan, China and Mexico. The company makes a variety of interior and exterior parts, with a speciality in developing new applications.

Vintech is leasing the 20,000-square-foot facility in Portugal, which is near Lisbon. The factory is expandable, so it can accommodate growth, Schoonover said. The company is in the process of rebuilding extrusion lines for the plant. Schoonover said Vintech buys some equipment new, and also buys used Davis-Standard machines and refurbishes them in-house.

The plant will start with 10 employees and grow to 50 within a few years. Schoonover said the factory it will start production in December or January.

Vintech previously had plans to start manufacturing in Turkey for the European market, through a joint venture. But economic problems in Turkey convinced officials to expand in Portugal instead, Schoonover said.

The company bought the 30,000-square-foot Georgia factory, and has plans to add 20,000 square feet of space onto a pad that already exists on the site. That plant will start with 10 employees in the first quarter of 2019, and grow to 50 within a few years.

Schoonover said it makes sense to expand in Georgia because of current automotive supply chain concerns about trade.

"We have a lot of customers in the area, in Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina. With the recent tariffs, there's certainly a need for OEMs to localisze some of that business," he said. "For example, if an OEM is currently importing products from Europe or South Korea, they may have to pay tariffs. If we can manufacture locally, it makes more sense."

Schoonover founded Vintech in 2004 in Imlay City. He said Vintech has 125 different Tier 1 customers, and the largest only accounts for 8% of its sales.

Schoonover said Vintech's two plants in Michigan, in Almont and Imlay City, are currently at capacity, so opening the two new plants will free up space for the Michigan plants to grow.

Vintech currently has annual sales of about $50m(€42.6m).

"We have a clear road map to $100m (€85m) in sales. We all work hard, and we're certain that the future will be good," he said.

Vintech employs about 300 globally. The two Michigan plants employ a total of about 200. Plants in Monterrey and Puebla, Mexico, employ about 70; and factories in Ningbo and Ninghai, China, employ about 30.

Vintech also has a proprietary process where it does metal roll forming and extrudes plastic onto the metal part. Schoonover said the company also helps customers optimise the design of new plastic parts, cutting weight and reducing assembly costs.

"I've always said we're a blue-collar company. We're very technical. Our whole team is really focused on reinventing everything. We're always looking at how we can improve," Schoonover said. "About 80% of the parts that we make, we improve on. We make them lighter or more cost effective." Schoonover credited the company's technical development centre in Almont, which has six extrusion lines and makes all of the company's extrusion tooling.

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