DETROIT — In a made-for-modules marriage, American Bumper & Mfg. Co. last week acquired automotive lighting and console molder Lescoa Inc.
Even as the two suppliers were making final wedding plans, they already were combining products — truck bumpers and fog lamps — on an American Bumper contract to supply bumpers for the 2002 Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator.
Lescoa was brought into the program about three weeks ago, said American Bumper Chief Executive Officer Robert Barton.
Nearly all of Lescoa's $205 million in sales come from injection molded components, and could boost American Bumper's total sales to as high as $650 million.
The acquisition also broadens Ionia, Mich.-based American Bumper's customer base outside of Ford Motor Co., which accounts for 90 percent of its sales. American Bumper gains Lescoa customers General Motors Corp. and DaimlerChrysler AG, and it gains access to an important component source through Lescoa's joint venture with Lorro Inc. Based in Detroit, Lorro is a minority-owned supplier of plastic foam parts for bumpers and interiors.
The addition of more than 100 manufacturing engineers at Lescoa also gives American Bumper the ability to design more-complex modules. In all, Lescoa employs 1,400 at its six plants, and operates about 56 injection presses.
``There's an awful lot of opportunity here,'' including more acquisitions, particularly in Europe, Barton said.
Lescoa, a family-owned business in Grand Rapids, Mich., faced pressure from customers to expand outside North America. The firm employs 1,500 and operates six plants in the Grand Rapids area.
Lescoa got its start in 1945 as the Leslie Metal Arts Co., a tool and die maker. The company makes a variety of automotive lighting products, instrument panels, consoles, cup holders and electrical components.
Founder Leslie Tassell, 91, will step down as chairman and serve as an adviser to Barton, who becomes Lescoa's chairman and CEO. Barton, 65, is the former chairman, president and CEO of Alcoa Fujikura Ltd., a wiring harness supplier. Don Tassell, 66, will take the new title of executive managing director with responsibility for running day-to-day operations.
The Tassells insisted that any buyer of the company keep its work force intact and look for ways to grow the business.
``We picked a company that wouldn't come in here and tear this place apart,'' Don Tassell said.