It probably was unintentional.
International Automotive Components Group North America Inc. held its coming-out party to the automotive press the same day North American automakers posted sales data showing a continued drop in their sales - underscoring the business climate facing IAC.
The global company was created by financier Wilbur Ross to take advantage of the range of auto interiors suppliers that are up for sale, and at lower prices that reflect difficult conditions, with some parts purchased out of bankruptcy.
In North America, IAC's biggest component comes from Lear Corp.'s former interiors group, a unit that has been losing money for the Southfield, Mich., automotive seating maker.
For the first time, the traditional Big Three automakers - General Motors Corp., Chrysler Corp. and Ford Motor Co. - saw their combined sales percentage drop to less than half of the cars sold in the U.S. in July. It's clear business is not going to improve just because heavy hitters like Ross are sinking money into the auto supply industry.
``It's obvious that everyone has taken a lot of punches,'' said Jim Kamsickas, president and chief executive officer of Dearborn-based IAC North America during the Aug. 1 briefing. ``A lot of companies have fallen by the wayside. Collins & Aikman [Corp.] is the poster child for that.''
Sales drops such as the one that occurred in July, when Ford, GM and Chrysler combined for 49.4 percent of U.S. sales, mean a big hit for companies like IAC North America, since the Big Three make up 88 percent of the supplier's sales.
Still, Kamsickas said IAC is in position to be one of the companies standing once the current shakeout is over. It has the mix of products, a strong management team and the global footprint needed to survive, and has been aggressive in cutting costs to improve its bottom line, he said.
``We have a road map that leads us to profitability,'' Kamsickas added.
IAC still is a company in transition, although its various plants have continued to ship parts without glitches. In North America, the firm is in the final stages of buying two parts of Collins & Aikman, the bankrupt, Southfield-based auto supplier that is in the process of selling off and closing operations.
By the end of this quarter, IAC expects to complete its purchase of C&A's carpet and acoustics business - with its 16 plants in North America - and C&A's plant in Hermosillo, Mexico, that supplies injection molded interior parts for Ford Motor Co.
IAC also is on the lookout for other potential acquisitions.
``If you're not looking for opportunities, you're going to miss them,'' Kamsickas said.
Globally, IAC takes in molding operations in Europe, Japan and South America in addition to North America. Lear has retained a minority interest in IAC by contributing its North American and European interiors units to the company.
The firm has a leg up when it comes to integrating all of its new parts, he said. Ross' business history is built around buying and creating companies. And IAC North America has the backbone of Lear's processing, product development and part delivery history to guide production.
``This company knows how to execute,'' he said.
Even those who came to IAC through Lear were familiar with Lear through its own successful acquisitions over the years, he said.
The new company also has proved itself to customers during the four months since IAC formally opened for business in April.
``If we didn't execute over the past four months, we would have fallen on our faces,'' he said.
Going forward, the company expects to continue as a preferred supplier to its customers because of its stability.
It is reaching out to foreign carmakers with its range of products, such as a 6-foot-long blow molded air duct that is a key part to Toyota Motor Corp.'s new Tundra pickup truck. IAC is a joint venture partner in the supplier park for Toyota's new truck plant in San Antonio.
The company is looking for the best ways to marry C&A's acoustic and carpet capabilities with IAC's molding, including potentially reopening state-of-the-art acoustics testing operations C&A had shuttered, said Gail Miciuda, director of research, design and product marketing.
And IAC is looking after its bottom line in other ways to reduce development and production costs, said Maurice Sessel, vice president of product engineering.
The company currently has more than 2,100 different types of fasteners it uses in its products. For future programs, developers are limited to a much more manageable stock of 39 fasteners - with special permission needed if engineers want to use one that is not in the corporate cupboard.