Traverse City, Mich. — Spanish auto supplier Grupo Antolin is considering the potential for future acquisitions to strengthen its electronics expertise, even as it also invests in more — and more efficient — manufacturing.
Grupo Antolin, which doubled in size in 2015 when it purchased the interiors business of Magna International Inc., is positioning itself as a maker of interior parts that integrate lighting and electronics. This “smart” lighting would be the key communication tool between a connected, autonomous car and the driver, said Maria Helena Antolin, director, vice chair and a member of the board of directors for Grupo Antolin, at the Center for Automotive Research's auto industry Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City.
“That's what we're talking about, integrating lights with all of our parts, making a light that is intelligent,” she said. “We are convinced that the interiors will be one of the greatest beneficiaries of the [automotive] revolution that is coming.”
To get to that point, however, Grupo Antolin needs to boost its in-house expertise.
“We know electronics are going to be very important, and this is not our core business,” Maria Antolin said. “We need to look for other companies, maybe just partnerships or maybe by buying some small companies. We don't know which yet, but we're open and listening.”
Burgos, Spain-based Grupo Antolin is now in its second generation of leadership from the Antolin family.
It was No. 2 in the most recent Plastics News ranking of North American injection molders with an estimated $1.5 billion in sales in the region. North America represents 23 percent of its total global sales of nearly $5.7 billion in 2017.
And it is continuing to grow. In June, it officially opened its 368,000-square-foot facility in Shelby Township, Mich., making door panels and overhead systems for Fiat Chrysler's Ram truck. It is currently looking to add 200 more workers to the 350 originally hired for the site.
In January, it announced plans to invest $51 million in three new plants in Spartanburg, S.C.
All of its global plants are focused on more than just turning out parts, however, Maria Antolin said.
Grupo Antolin is developing new, sustainable surfaces using renewable materials such as cork or wood, she said. And it is increasingly making those parts while taking advantage of advanced manufacturing programs, such as those that fall under the Industry 4.0 umbrella.