HP Pelzer Automotive invests $13.4 million in new Michigan plant

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HP Pelzer Automotive Systems Inc. HP Pelzer has two manufacturing facilities in Port Huron, Mich., now and will be expanding there.

Global acoustics specialist HP Pelzer Automotive Systems Inc. plans to invest $13.5 million in a new manufacturing plant in Port Huron, Mich.

Pelzer will create about 124 jobs in the project, which beat out a site in Tennessee for the investment.

Pelzer mainly produces soft auto trim systems for acoustic dampening and heat management. It already operates several facilities in North America. It is part of the Adler Pelzer Group of Witten, Germany, which employs about 11,000 worldwide.

"HP Pelzer's expansion reflects the appeal and profitability of the thriving automotive industry business climate in Michigan," said Steve Arwood, CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corp. in a March 29 news release.

Pelzer has grown its North American business aggressively. It started with setting up a head office in Troy, Mich., in 1996 after logging sales of $3 million in 1995. It established its first plant in Port Huron, and by 2013, annual sales had ballooned to $280 million from several operations.

Pelzer's inaugural plant in Port Huron makes polyurethane-backed auto dashboards and acoustical components using vacuum forming of plastic sheet and closed-mold PUR foaming technology. In 2005, it opened a second facility in Port Huron to make interior appearance components such as carpets and packaging trays.

Pelzer lists several North American operations on its website. In Eudora, Kan., it molds PUR foam auto floor carpets. In Sterling Heights, Mich., it makes thermoformable ethylene/vinyl acetate barriers for auto and other markets using calendaring, laminating and surface treating. Plants in Puebla, Mexico, and Thomson, Ga., make molded, resin-filled cotton fiber for dashboards and hoodliners. Other production plants are located in Athens, Tenn., and in Pachuca and Saltillo, Mexico.

Pelzer has technology for thermoforming, felt processing, PUR processing, carpet molding and interior trim. It does its own in-house acoustic and materials testing and development.

HP Pelzer was founded in 1969 in Germany. In 2003, Collins & Aikman Corp. considered purchasing the company but never completed the deal. C&A wanted the business to boost access to European automakers. At that time HP Pelzer's annual sales were reported at $520 million, mainly in Europe.

For its new Port Huron project, Pelzer will qualify for a $496,000 performance-based grant from the Michigan Strategic Fund and it will get support from the St. Clair County Economic Development Corp. through a job fair.