Supplier United Technologies Automotive has formed a joint venture with minority-owned Farmer Group Inc. to assemble modules from plastic sun visors and other parts.
Farmer Group, based in Royal Oak, Mich., owns 51 percent of the joint venture company, called North American Interiors. UTA, based in Dearborn, Mich., owns the other 49 percent. The agreement was announced March 18.
North American Interiors will assemble sun visors and other overhead-system components, said Forest Farmer, Farmer Group chairman and chief executive officer. The firm eventually plans to expand to other product areas, he said.
UTA will supply sun visors to the joint venture from its injection molding plant in Wauseon, Ohio, said UTA spokesman Tom Andrew.
North American Interiors plans to open a new plant, possibly in Ohio or Michigan, to do the assembly work. The company plans to start operations by midsummer, Farmer said. By the end of 1999, the venture will have about 100 employees, he said.
The joint venture is one of many formed recently between large auto suppliers and smaller, minority-owned businesses. U.S.-based carmakers have set goals to purchase as much as 5 percent of their products from minority-owned companies in the next several years.
Farmer formerly was part owner of Detroit-based Bing Manufacturing Inc., a minority-owned metal-parts stamper. Farmer sold his interest in December and formed Farmer Group.
The holding company has interests in four other companies, including KelChem Technologies, a recycler of plastic parts based in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. Farmer spent 26 years at Chrysler Corp.
Farmer Group expects 1999 sales to approach $15 million, Farmer said. UTA recorded $2.9 billion in sales last year.
Southfield, Mich.-based auto supplier Lear Corp. agreed March 17 to buy UTA. The ownership change should not affect the joint venture's operations, Farmer said.