DETROIT — In a bid to become a leading Tier 1 supplier to automakers for plastic accelerator systems, Teleflex Inc. has purchased a similarly sized European injection molder.
The purchase, completed in December, gives Teleflex ownership of auto supplier United Parts Group NV of Dassel, Germany. United Parts makes plastic gearshift systems, accelerator pedal boxes and steering columns, products that complement Teleflex's line of plastic accelerator parts.
Publicly held Teleflex, based in Philadelphia, paid $88 million for United Parts' driver-control and truck-control division, Teleflex marketing manager Major Murray said Feb. 24 at SAE '98 in Detroit. The company then immediately sold the truck division, which makes welded metal parts, for $36 million to Reufoss NV, a Norwegian company.
Teleflex kept possession of United Parts' five injection molding and final-assembly plants in Dassel; Dalstorp, Sweden; Birmingham, England; Vr ble, Slovakia; and Cluses, France.
The purchase boosts annual sales for Teleflex Automotive Group, based in Troy, Mich., from about $250 million to $400 million, Murray said.
The purchase also gives the supplier a foothold with automakers in Europe, where United Parts does business with every car company on the continent except Fiat SpA. The company's largest customers include Ford Motor Co.'s European operations, General Motors Corp.'s Adam Opel AG and Mercedes-Benz AG.
Teleflex primarily had sold its parts to Tier 1 suppliers before the acquisition, Murray said.
``They are the leaders in plastics in Europe for [gearshift and accelerator] parts,'' Murray said. ``We now have a stronger relationship with automakers. That can significantly increase our market penetration.''
The Dassel plant includes about 25 injection presses with clamping forces of 20-300 tons, said Ulrich Dietl, United Parts' former technology director. The plant also has a polyurethane foaming operation that makes about 5 million gearshift handles a year, Dietl said.
The other United Parts facilities, located near automakers' plants, are devoted to assembly and warehousing, Dietl said. The plants, which employ about 900, each have 30,000-60,000 square feet of space.
``The sale is a big opportunity for us to get more of our products in the hands of carmakers,'' Dietl said. ``With Teleflex, we can become complete gearshift and accelerator systems suppliers, making us that much more recognized in the industry.''
The firms plan to take a systems approach with their products, Murray said. United Parts' nylon- and polypropylene-based gearshift components will be shipped to several of Teleflex's nine North American manufacturing sites, while Teleflex's accelerator cables and pedal parts will be sent to its newly acquired European facilities, he said.
In May, Teleflex also bought injection molder and steel stamper Comcorp Technologies Inc. of Warren, Mich. Comcorp makes both steel and PP-based accelerator pedal systems.
In other news, Teleflex has developed an adjustable pedal that allows drivers to adjust the position of the accelerator and brake pedals with the touch of a button. The product, which will start production with metal parts but convert to plastic, will be introduced on a 1999-model sport utility vehicle from an undisclosed Big Three carmaker.
The automotive group's parent recorded $1.1 billion in 1997 sales. With the purchase, the group accounts for more than a third of its parent's total sales.