LDM PURCHASES AEROQUIP-VICKERS PLANT

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LDM Technologies Inc., a Tier 1 automotive supplier in Auburn Hills, Mich., has purchased an air-vent assembly plant owned by Aeroquip-Vickers Inc. to boost its market penetration in instrument panel modules.

The Kendallville, Ind., plant is one of eight facilities that Aeroquip-Vickers put on the sales block in February. The Maumee, Ohio, company, then known as Trinova Corp., announced that it was exiting its plastics interior trim business to focus on more profitable core areas. The plants were part of the company's Maumee-based Aeroquip Corp. subsidiary.

The two companies signed a letter of intent last month and closed the sale April 25, said LDM Chief Financial Officer Gary Borushko. Terms of the deal were not announced.

The 74,600-square-foot Kendallville plant injection molds heating and air-conditioning registers and louvers, said Aeroquip-Vickers spokesman Peter Parsons.

Its main customer is Ford Motor Co., but the plant also makes the assemblies for General Motors Corp. and Toyota Motor Manufacturing USA Inc., Parsons said.

The plant, which has 240 employees, operates 23 presses with clamping forces of 6-700 tons. The air-vent assemblies primarily are molded from a polycarbonate/ABS blend as well as other engineered thermoplastics.

The plant also had supplied LDM with air-vent components that were integrated into LDM's instrument panel clusters, Borushko said. The clusters, which are made in LDM's Franklin, Tenn., plant, are used on Ford's F-series pickup trucks and other vehicles.

The Kendallville operation recorded $14 million in 1996 sales, Parsons said. About one-third of the plant's sales were for parts supplied to LDM, Borushko added.

Borushko said that the plant will support LDM's goal to become more vertically integrated in instrument panel clusters.

The acquisition also will help LDM expand its product line to other carmakers and models, he added.

``Air outlets are generally an extremely important element in instrument panel clusters,'' Borushko said.

``We've produced air-vent registers before, but not in the volume that the [Kendallville] plant is capable of doing. It's an excellent, well-run facility.''

In March, Aeroquip-Vickers sold plastics interior trim plants in Port Huron and Chesterfield, Mich., and Chihuahua, Mexico, to Key Plastics Inc. of Novi, Mich. The sales price was not disclosed for the plants, which generated a combined $30 million in 1996 sales.

The firm is selling four other plants, in Spring Arbor, Mich.; Mooresville, N.C.; and Roedelheim and Beienheim, Germany. The Mooresville plant closed in March due to a lack of capacity. The company said at its annual meeting in April that the four plants still for sale have a combined sales volume of $86 million.

At the meeting, shareholders also approved changing the company name from Trinova to Aeroquip-Vickers.

LDM operates 13 plants, including the Kendallville facility, in North America, according to Borushko. The company makes a variety of interior, exterior and underhood components and systems.

LDM ranked eighth among North American injection molders, with 1996 injection molding sales of $350 million, according to Plastics News' April 14 ranking.