A new joint venture should help N-K Manufacturing Technologies Inc. improve its customer service, gain access to new markets and free up space at its U.S. plant, the company said.
The venture with Mexican injection molder Industrias Gesta SA de CV initially will produce and assemble automotive seals for the headlamps, taillamps and rear appliques on the current Lincoln Town Car.
The parts currently are made in Grand Rapids, Mich., but they are light and susceptible to damage in transit, according to N-K Vice President Armen Kassouni.
Producing the parts in Mexico will alleviate that problem and improve overall efficiency by putting them nearer Visteon Corp.'s Car Plastics Division in Mexico, he added.
N-K also is hoping its relationship with the Mexican manufacturer will help it gain business in nonautomotive markets it does not currently supply, he said.
``They are hoping for us to help open some doors for them in Detroit, and we're hoping for them to help open doors in Mexico,'' he said.
N-K will market products made through the joint venture, N-K Industrias Gesta SA de CV, to the U.S. automotive market, as well as its own abilities in insert, two-shot and overmolding, and Industrias Gesta's capabilities in painting, stamping and assembly, Kassouni said.
Beginning in the second quarter, production for the venture will take place at Industrias Gesta's 67,000-square-foot plant in Monterrey, Mexico.
That move will free up space at N-K's Michigan plant for new automotive parts production scheduled to begin this fall, Kassouni said.
N-K, part of Nicholas Plastics Inc. in Allendale, Mich., employs about 85 at its Michigan plant, which turns out injection molded interior and exterior automotive components.
Kassouni said he expects the venture to increase N-K's sales this year by 10 percent, to $14 million.