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Cooper Standard takes on global expansion

By: Chris Sweeney
RUBBER & PLASTICS NEWS

March 27, 2014

NOVI, Mich. — Cooper Standard Automotive Inc. is opening 2014 with growing expectations, on the heels of a successful 2013 that saw its sales increase by $200 million to $3.1 billion.

The firm is expanding in all regions of the globe, building a manufacturing plant in Sremska Mitrovica, Serbia; establishing two others in Bawal and Sanand, India; expanding its facility in Aguascalientes, Mexico; and preparing to open technical centers in Shanghai and Manesar, India.

In addition, its parent company is investigating a refinancing of its debt to try to reduce interest costs.

Cooper Standard did not release financial details of its expansion projects.

“We have a pretty significant commitment right now in expanding our footprint,” said Chief Operating Officer Keith Stephenson. “We're doing it in what we think is a responsible and logical way, and we're doing it in each part of the globe.”

Its Serbia facility is nearly complete. The firm said the 193,750-sq.-ft. building is finished, and Cooper Standard is in the process of populating it with equipment for trial runs. Stephenson said the plant should be operational by mid-2014.

The firm said 155 employees are training at its Italy and Poland facilities. Sremska Mitrovica eventually will employ 500. The plant primarily will focus on Cooper Standard's automotive sealing systems and components products, but Stephenson said it later could expand to include its fluid transfer and fuel and brake businesses.

Cooper Standard produces seals using both plastics and rubber.

Once fully operational, the firm projects net annualized labor savings of about $25 million.

The firm just completed its expansion in Aguascalientes, which added 90,000 square feet, increasing the total size to around 310,000 square feet. It expanded capacity at the firm's main sealing facility in the North American region. It also added extrusion and finishing capacity.

India gets 2 manufacturing plants

Cooper Standard is establishing two manufacturing plants and a technical center in India.

The firm said its facility in Bawal will be operational in the second quarter of 2014, and it initially will produce rubber sealing and trim parts.

Its facility in Sanand will open in the first quarter of 2015. It will manufacture sealing and trim, and fuel and brake delivery products.

The company plans to upgrade its existing manufacturing facility in Manesar, India, to include a technical center for research and development. The firm said it will have the capability for prototype development and simulation to drive its product development efforts.

Stephenson said the firm's main focus in China is to finish its technical center, which the company hopes to start operating in April. The executive said the goal is to build up capability to support customers in the Chinese market and, over time, cover Cooper Standard's three core product lines.