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Auto supplier Toyoda Gosei investing for growth in North America

By: Chris Sweeney
RUBBER & PLASTICS NEWS

June 25, 2014

TROY, Mich. — Toyoda Gosei North America Corp., the North American subsidiary of Toyoda Gosei Co. Ltd., is growing rapidly through acquisition and expansion.

Toyoda Gosei just finished construction of its latest Mexican facility and is in the process of populating the 129,000 square feet of space with equipment. And on April 30, its parent company finalized the purchase of all assets of Meteor Gummiwerke K.H. Badje GmbH & Co. K.G., which gives the firm two more North American locations.

One is a wholly owned plant in Dover, Ohio — Meteor Sealing Systems LLC — and the other is a joint venture, LMI Custom Mixing LLC in Cambridge, Ohio, of which Toyoda Gosei owns 45 percent.

“The U.S. is an important market,” said Toru Koyama, Toyoda Gosei North America president. “We are expecting to expand globally, especially in Asia and Mexico.”

Koyama said Toyoda Gosei spent around $40 million to acquire Meteor.

Toyoda Gosei reported 2013 North American sales of about $1.66 billion for the fiscal year ending March 31. It operates four main product groups: safety systems, automotive sealing, interior and exterior plastic parts, and fuel components.

The firm has not publicized its segment by segment breakdown of its 2013 financials, but for 2012, interior and exterior parts accounted for 31 percent of the firm's total sales, followed by safety systems at 28 percent and automotive sealing at 19.3 percent. The four automotive product groups combined for 89.3 percent of the firm's total sales.

Toyoda Gosei operates 16 North American manufacturing locations in addition to its regional headquarters in Troy, a test facility and a warehouse

New business

Koyama said North America remains one of Toyoda Gosei's strongest international markets. In 2012, North America accounted for 20.6 percent of the company's total sales; only Japan (52.6 percent) and Asia/Oceania (24 percent) were larger.

The firm primarily is focused on Japanese transplant automotive original equipment manufacturers, as about 75 percent of its sales originates from that business, Koyama said.

The firm hopes to grow its North American sales to $1.8 billion by 2018, increasing sales to Japanese OEMs, but it aims to balance that out with an overall expanding business with the Detroit 3 and European transplant firms, Koyama said.

The Meteor acquisition will help on that front. The firm is based in Germany and manufactures sealing products such as weatherstrips. In addition to the U.S. plants, it operates two German plants: Worbis and Bockenem, which is its headquarters.

Toyoda Gosei said the acquisition will help it establish a firmer foothold in Europe and expand business with Daimler AG, BMW AG, Audi AG and other European auto makers.

Koyama said Meteor enhances the firm's automotive sealing footprint in North America by bringing some unique extrusion technology, specifically for premium vehicles, to the table. He added there was no overlap between Meteor and Toyoda Gosei's business, and the firms are working to utilize their respective strengths.

Joint growth

Koyama said like other suppliers, Toyoda Gosei is trying to grow with its customers. That is the primary reason the firm decided to add a fuel and radiator hose plant in Mexico.

At the time of the project's launch, the firm said it made a $1.5 million capital investment plus an additional $7 million in the project. Toyoda Gosei said it still plans to utilize all of its investment.

“Our customers are increasing Mexican production,” Koyama said. “We will provide a global link of parts to our customer in Mexico. We will continue to meet their needs in Mexican production.”

Toyoda Gosei Rubber Mexico S.A. de C.V. is complete, and the firm is investing in equipment to meet its goal of starting production by February of next year. Koyama said the first machines already have been installed.

By 2016, the firm expects employment to reach 150.

Koyama said Japanese OEMs and the Detroit 3 are targets of the expansion. Honda Motor Co. Ltd., Nissan Motor Co. Ltd., Toyota Motor Corp., Chrysler Group L.L.C., Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co. have manufacturing presences in the country, with Nissan recently announcing plans to triple its purchases from local manufacturers to $7 billion by 2016.

“Customers are increasing the global platform, and we are appealing with our global footprint,” Koyama said. “We have excellent customer support from North America, to Europe, to Asia from sales to manufacturing.”