DETROIT-Guardian Automotive said it will invest $44 million in a new molding facility in Morehead, Ky., to handle overall growth in its plastic exterior trim business. Guardian, a unit of Auburn Hills. Mich.-based Guardian Industries Corp., said it hopes to break ground on the 300,000-square-foot plant in two weeks and begin production within a year. The company estimates that 400 new jobs will be created in Morehead.
``Our objective is to continue to broaden our plastics and trim manufacturing base to ensure that Guardian remains at the forefront in the design and fabrication of the highest quality plastic products and trim systems,'' said Jack W. Sights, president of Guardian Automotive.
The firm is also looking at the Kentucky site as a key element in its plan to begin supplying exterior trim to transplant automakers in the southern United States.
Although plans are not yet firmed up, Guardian expects to install 12-20 injection presses in Morehead with clamping forces of 350-2,200 tons. The new plant will also have painting and plating facilities.
Guardian Automotive has seven automotive trim operations in the United States and six glass fabrication plants in the United States and Europe.
The company has rapidly expanded its plastics business this year. In January, Guardian announced it was buying a 70 percent stake in Automotive Moulding Co., a maker of plastic and metal trim in Warren, Mich., in a deal worth more than $125 million. Guardian merged the Automotive Moulding business with its Windsor Plastics Inc. subsidiary, acquired in 1988, to form a plastics trim business with sales of about $200 million.
Guardian's automotive trim technical center also is based in Warren.
Also, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority has given Guardian preliminary approval for tax credits under the Kentucky Rural Economic Development Act, a state program designed to attract manufacturing jobs into areas with high unemployment.