Automotive metal-stamping supplier Oxford Automotive Inc. has bought its first plastics molding business as part of its expansion into Europe and a continuing move to produce parts modules. Troy, Mich.-based Oxford bought six injection presses as part of its purchase of Gessaroli Group of Turin, Italy. Gessaroli uses the machines to turn out components for car locks and hood and trunk releases, said John Walker, Oxford's executive director of global integration.
Oxford will put Gessaroli's parts into use in its door modules, he said.
"It's part of the integration program for us," Walker said, in a March 28 telephone interview. "We have a very active door-module program."
Oxford will continue focusing on metal components, he said, but likely will buy into a wider variety of materials as it expands into modular integration.
The deal is set to close April 3 for an undisclosed price.
More companies may find themselves in the same position as Oxford as automakers push for more integration from suppliers, said analyst Scott D. Upham, president of Providata Automotive, based in Ann Arbor, Mich.
"Oxford mainly produces the guts that go into the doors," he said. "If they want to turn out the entire module, they're going to have to get into plastics and sealing technology and rubber.
"You're going to see more and more companies getting into acquisitions outside their normal fields, developing alliances and signing up preferred suppliers so they can integrate."
Gessaroli has annual sales of about $30 million for both its plastic and metal-formed components, doing the bulk of its business with Fiat SpA, also of Turin.
Oxford posted $791 million in worldwide sales in 1999, up from $514 million in 1998, with Detroit's General Motors Corp. as its biggest customer.
With GM buying up a 20 percent stake in Fiat Auto, the deal promises even better connections for Oxford, Walker said.
"We're pushing $300 million [of business] in Europe now with this acquisition," he said. "Because we do so much work with GM, it's a great fit for us."