ADAC ADDS DOOR HANDLE CAPACITY WITH NEW, $10 MILLION FACILITY

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Adac Plastics Inc., considered one of the largest suppliers of automotive door handles in North America, is completing a $10 million expansion that will more than double its handle production by the end of next year.

The company, based in Grand Rapids, Mich., is completing work on a new 148,000-square-foot plant that will open May 1. The facility is adjacent to Adac's existing, 80,000-square-foot facility in Muskegon, Mich., where it began making door handles for Ford Motor Co. in 1993.

Plans include hiring 50 more employees when the plant opens, with an additional 100 jobs added by the end of next year. The company has 550 employees, with 250 of those workers at the Muskegon facility.

Key to the expansion is a contract with Ford to produce door handles for its high-volume Taurus and Mercury Sable line. This summer, the new plant will begin work on three new, unspecified Ford platforms launched over the next six months, said Jim Teets, Adac vice president of sales and marketing. The company expects General Motors to launch two new projects by the end of next year.

The new facility will allow Adac to make as many as 14 million handles a year, said Adac manufacturing director Terry Williams. Renovations will continue for the next 18 months while production is ongoing, he added.

The current plant can produce a maximum of 6 million handles.

Initially, Adac has purchased six new injection presses, all with

clamping forces of 400 tons, for the new building and is moving another 400-ton press from the adjacent plant. The other Muskegon plant has 13 presses with clamping forces of 170-825 tons.

The company plans to buy more presses and expand capacity as contracts are awarded, Williams said. The new plant can accommodate as many as 30 presses, he added. The door handles are injection molded from a paintable nylon.

``Capacity has really driven our expansion,'' Teets said. ``We're only four years old as a door handle supplier, but we've never had to look back. Now, we'll have an entire door handle center in Muskegon that will allow us to better keep up with our customers' volume.''

In 1993, Ford asked Adac to begin producing door handles for its Taurus/Sable line and Thunderbird and Mercury Cougar models, the latter two of which are being phased out in September. Since then, the company has added work on General Motors' Oldsmobile Cutlass and Chevrolet Corsica, which is now known as the Malibu.

The door handle business accounts for about 40 percent of Adac's sales, Teets said. The company also supplies exterior and interior lighting, cowl grille assemblies and functional components at two other plants in Grand Rapids and Saranac, Mich.

The privately held company, founded in 1974, recorded 1996 sales of $64 million and expects to increase that amount to $68 million in 1997, Teets said.

The new plant will manufacture interior door handles and some exterior handles and also include warehousing and distribution operations. The existing plant, which primarily will produce exterior handles, includes a state-of-the-art painting system, Teets said.