DowntownsMore in-state                                                                                                    ...
offices in suburban Detroit, CrestmarkGROW MICHIGAN                                                                       ...
WHAT’S INSIDE                                                                                                             ...
MANUFACTURINGBRAVENEW WORLDSuppliers feel squeeze from capacityconstraints, new launches andglobalization pressures by the...
$300M) and only one in three small suppliers (less than                                      “It’s one of those prices you...
MANUFACTURING                                                         AUTO SUPPLIERS                                     t...
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  1. 1. DowntownsMore in-state will keepprivate equity waiting forneeded grocery storesPAGE 14 PAGE 11 MARCH 4, 2013 • VOL. 26/NO. 11 • $1.50 SERVING WESTERN MICHIGAN BUSINESS SINCE 1988 www.mibiz.com Mezz fund BRAVE NEW WORLD The pressure to globalize is putting the squeeze on auto suppliers aims to bridge lending gap By MARK SANCHEZ | MiBiz msanchez@mibiz.com just as they’re ramping up to meet higher production volumes and The creation of a new mezzanine fund new vehicle launches in North America. Will only the strong survive? gives small businesses across Michigan one more option to consider when they’re pursuing growth capital. Funded by the state and nine banks, the Plymouth, Mich.-based Grow Michigan LLC secured commitments of a little more than $30 million in its first round that closed in mid-February. The fund aims to grow the capital pool to $60 million in the By JOE BOOMGAARD | MiBiz months ahead. jboomgaard@mibiz.com The Michigan Strategic Fund provided $10 million of the committed amount and the rest came from banks – including sev- Automotive suppliers across West Michigan eral based in West Michigan – that view the have no shortage of opportunities these mezzanine fund as an alternative tool for underwriting loans to growing small busi- days. Vehicle production volumes are up, nesses that otherwise don’t qualify for a new product launches are on the rise, and conventional loan. Traditionally, small businesses have automakers increasingly insist that their struggled to access subordinated debt suppliers have a global footprint. offered through mezzanine funding, said Russ Youngdahl, CEO of Grow Michigan and founding partner and managing mem- But to take advantage of those opportuni- ber at the Jackson, Mich.-based Northstar ties, suppliers had better be brave — and Capital LLC. Youngdahl spoke at a recent event sponsored by the West Michigan have cash. chapter of the Association for Corporate Growth. “For post-revenue companies, (what’s missing) is mezzanine debt for $1-3 mil- See BRAVE NEW WORLD, PAGE 4 lion transactions that allow for existing See GROW MICHIGAN on page 2Next step: Taking Pure Michigan to international marketsBy MARK SANCHEZ | MiBiz “It just continues to raise the profile the public and private sectors, maintaining stable funding formsanchez@mibiz.com of the industry and the importance of the promotions, strengthening the Pure Michigan brand and fos- industry to Michigan’s economy,” said tering a “culture of service excellence” are among the indus-An ambitious five-year strategic plan for Michigan’s tourism George Zimmermann, the vice president of try’s broad goals between now and 2017.industry aims to draw far more travelers to the state, boost the Travel Michigan. “We no longer view our- Each of the goals and objectives outlined, while ambitiouseconomic impact by nearly 20 percent and begin to take the selves as just a regional destination. We can in nature, is achievable given the gains made in the first six“Pure Michigan” brand around the world. be a great U.S. destination, and we can be a years of the Pure Michigan brand, said Sally Laukitis, a state Among the key objectives outlined in the strategic plan are great destination for foreign visitors.” travel commissioner and executive director of the Hollandgrowing visitor spending in Michigan by nearly 20 percent to Foreign visitors tend to stay longer and Area Convention & Visitors Bureau.$21.1 billion by 2017, up from $17.7 billion in 2011. Doing so Zimmermann spend more money while traveling in the Travel Michigan’s website was the most visited tourismwould elevate Michigan’s status nationally as a vacation desti- U.S., Zimmermann said. site in the U.S. in 2012 for the sixth straight year, accord-nation and would draw more foreign visitors to the state, espe- The Michigan Travel Commission adopted the strategic ing to Experian Hitwise, a company that measures web use.cially from neighboring Canada. plan in mid-February. It outlines a series of goals and objec- Michigan.org registered more than 8.8 million visits last year, The strategic plan seeks to build on the success of the Pure tives for the industry and envisions making Michigan “one of about 1 million more than second-ranked Florida.Michigan branding campaign that debuted in 2006 regionally America’s favorite four seasons travel experiences.”in the Midwest and went national three years ago. Increased collaboration within the industry and between See PURE MICHIGAN on page 23P E R I O D I C A L S Local firms help out DESIGN Manistee +BUILD FOCUS: theater Coverage sponsored by: ROCKFORD Turnarounds & renovation CONSTRUCTIION PAGE 12 COMPANY Restructuring SEE PAGES 28-32
  2. 2. offices in suburban Detroit, CrestmarkGROW MICHIGAN Bank in Troy and Seaway Community RELATED STORY: Q&A with Brian BlackContinued from page 1 Bank in St. Clair. of Fifth Third Bank. PAGE 34 The mezzanine fund will offer creditcompanies here in West Michigan to accel- of $500,000 to $3 million for three to fiveerate their growth plan, whether it’s a man- years in conjunction with senior loans. prospective borrowers should expect “to goagement turnover or it’s a growth plan,” Securing a loan through Grow through the normal credit process.”Youngdahl said. Michigan would alleviate the need for Increased regulation and scrutiny of the Bankers involved in the venture say they companies to go to the private equity industry following the financial collapse ofoften see growing small businesses seeking Lievense Kaminski Treadwell market for capital, an option that many 2008 curtailed the lending ability of bankscredit to expand that are unable to secure entrepreneurs would prefer not to do and forced them to cut back on so-called “airwhat they need. The owner lacks adequate Lake Michigan Financial’s two banks com- after nurturing the business from startup to a ball” loans where they approved more for aequity or collateral in a post-recession era bined committed more than $1 million to stage where it’s poised to take off, Mercantile borrower than its asset base could support.where real estate valuations, despite recent Grow Michigan. Bank COO Bob Kaminski said. That created “a hole in the market that’s evenupward movements, remain somewhat To secure the kind of credit that Grow “They’re not willing to give up a piece of greater now,” Treadwell said.depressed, bankers said. Michigan provides, borrowers typically have the company they’ve built up through some The fund’s credit committee will approve Through their participation, bankers now to go out of state and will find “onerous terms” challenging times and through blood, sweat loans for “the best companies and the mosthave another place to refer those clients. from lenders who “only look at it as a financial and tears,” Kaminski said. “This can really deserving and (those that have) the best “It allows us to provide a level of financing investment,” Lievense said. give them the best of both worlds.” chances of success, otherwise they won’t getfor some of those small businesses that are in Grow Michigan attracted a combination Deal flow for Grow Michigan will come funded,” Treadwell said. “We intend to bea growth stage that they can’t get elsewhere,” of large and small community banks. Beyond via banks’ referring their clients, said David pretty selective.”said Rich Lievense, CEO of Lake Michigan the Lake Michigan Financial investment, other Treadwell, Grow Michigan’s chairman. Grow Michigan hopes to eventually attractFinancial Corp., the parent company of The banks investing in Grow Michigan are Fifth Participating banks will handle the under- more banks and additional capital, but first itBank of Holland and The Bank of Northern Third Bank, PNC Bank, Huntington Bank, writing for the fund. needs to get some deals done and put maturingMichigan in Petoskey. “We think it makes a lot Grand Rapids-based Mercantile Bank Corp., Treadwell expects Grow Michigan to loans on the books before it begins to look toof sense.” Chicago-based The Private Bank that has three approve 10 to 15 loans in its first year and said do a second fundraising round, Treadwell said. “We want to get this thing up and running, show some success and we can go from there,” he said. “Our main focus right now is to get deal flow started, looking at loans and deal- ing with business. If there are other banks that want to come in, we’re not going to turn them away at this point.” The primary motivation for the founders of the mezzanine fund, all of whom are finance and banking veterans, is driving job creation in the state, Treadwell said. Although they clearly want to generate a return on investment, participating banks see Grow Michigan the same way. “It’s in our best interests,” said Mercantile Bank’s Kaminski. “We’re all in the state of Michigan. We all see this as a tool of making the economy successful.” Mercantile Bank committed $500,000 to Grow Michigan. To adequately serve clients today, banks need to look at tools that allow them to lend across the capital continuum, Lake Michigan Financial’s Lievense said. Providing traditional commercial loans is “just not enough anymore,” he said. “You have to do more than just provide traditional financing if you want to serve this market and help small businesses grow,” Lievense said. “It’s one of those instances where it’s not only the right thing to do but the smart thing to do.” UPCOMING ISSUES 04.01.13 HEALTH REFORM REPORT CONTRACT DEADLINE: 03.14.13 04.15.13 PRIVATE CAPITAL CONTRACT DEADLINE: 03.28.13 04.29.13 GLOBAL TRADE CONTRACT DEADLINE: 04.11.13 05.13.13 BUSINESS INSURANCE CONTRACT DEADLINE: 04.25.13 CONTACT US TODAY! SALES@MIBIZ.COM EDITOR@MIBIZ.COM 616-608-61702 MARCH 4, 2013 / MiBiz Visit www.mibiz.com
  3. 3. WHAT’S INSIDE March 4, 2013 Published since 1988 MiBiz® is a registered trademark of REVUE Holding Co., Inc. Editor & Publisher Brian Edwards / bedwards@mibiz.com Managing Editor Joe Boomgaard (auto, manufacturing) jboomgaard@mibiz.com Senior Writers Mark Sanchez (finance, health care) msanchez@mibiz.com Mike Brennan (technology) mbrennan@mibiz.com Staff Writer Elijah Brumback (real estate, energy) ebrumback@mibiz.com Contributing Reporters Lindsay Patton-Carson, Nick Manes, Jane C. Simons 11 27 Contributing Photographer Jeff Hage Minion Stephanie Allen Columnists Melissa Anderson, Karl Dehn, Ron Kitchens, Birgit Klohs, Randy Thelen MANUFACTURING FINANCE HEALTH BIZ Vice President of Sales 4 Brave New World: 14 Panel: State needs more 26 Study raises questions about need Denise Schott / dschott@mibiz.com Suppliers feel the squeeze from capacity homegrown PE firms for more hospital beds Senior Advertising Consultant restraints, new launches and Shelly Keel / skeel@mibiz.com globalization pressures by the OEMs 5 Automotive supplier M&A ECONOMIC TECHNOLOGY Creative Director Kim Kibby / kkibby@mibiz.com still active DEVELOPMENT 27 Signage firm breaks status quo Design Director for displays Kristi Kortman / kkortman@mibiz.com 8 Growth of diesels fuels business 23 Biz community drives for supplier Bosch improvements to early Ad Designer & Traffic Coordinator Kellie Zaplitny / kzaplitny@mibiz.com 10 Auto Focus: The limited life childhood education FOCUS: TURNAROUNDS Web Editor span of automotive components & RESTRUCTURING Jayson Bussa / jbussa@mibiz.com ENERGY 28 Distressed companies find Circulation REAL ESTATE & 24 Action needed to preserve more flexible environment For address corrections or subscriptions, please visit www.mibiz.com/subscribe renewable energy momentum, post-recession DEVELOPMENT proponents say 30 List: Top CPA Firms MiBiz 11 Food Follies? ISSN 1085-4916 • USPS 017-099 Economics, perceptions work against Formerly MiBizWest • Established 1988 attracting downtown grocery NONPROFIT NOTABLE MiBiz is published every other week by REVUE Holding Co., Inc., 4927 Stariha Dr., 12 Theater project key to ORGANIZATIONS Suite B, Muskegon, MI 49441. Telephone 33 People & Datebook Manistee revitalization (231) 798-4669. FAX (231) 798-8335. E- 25 Remaining Relevant 34 Q&A: Brian Black mail: info@mibiz.com. Subscription changes: 13 GNS America completes Nonprofits consider folding, merging in www.mibiz.com. Periodicals Postage is paid at Muskegon, MI and additional mailing office. $2M expansion in Holland struggle to provide members value 34 In The News POSTMASTER: Send address changes to MiBiz, 4927 Stariha Dr., Suite B, Muskegon, MI 49441. Subscriptions are available without cost to qualified readers. Paid subscriptions are available to those not meeting qualified cir- culation requirements. Paid subscriptions are Credit Suisse ......................................................14 Holland Area CVB ..............................................1 OESA ......................................................................4 $46/year, $68/two years and $84/three years. COMPANY INDEX Crestmark Bank ..................................................2 CWD Real Estate .............................................11 Huntington Bank ................................................2 ICCF ......................................................................11 ONEplace ........................................................... 25 Orion Construction ..........................................12 Single copy and back issues (when available) are $1.50 each, plus first class postage. Deloitte .................................................................4 IHS Automotive .............................................. 4, 5 Orthopaedic Associates of Mich. .............. 34 GRAND RAPIDS Downtown Market ...........................................11 Integrated Architecture .................................12 PNC Bank..............................................................2 65 Monroe Center, Suite 5ACG West Michigan ................................... 1, 14 Duncan Aviation .............................................. 34 Kalamazoo Community Foundation .......... 23 Priority Health ................................................... 34 Grand Rapids, MI 49503ADAC Automotive..............................................4 Duthler’s Family Foods ...................................11 Kalamazoo Valley CC...................................... 23 Private Bank, The ...............................................2 616-608-6170 phone • 616-608-6182 faxAlliance For Health .................................. 26, 34 DWH Corp. ................................................ 28, 32 Kent Beverage.................................................. 34 Professional Admin. Resources .................. 25Amicus Management.............................. 28, 32 LAKESHORE Elzinga & Volkers ..............................................13 Kitchen 67 ......................................................... 27 Rehmann ............................................................ 28B&B Beer Distributing................................... 34 4927 Stariha Drive, Suite B Energy Innovation Business Council ....... 24 Lake Michigan Financial ..................................2 Revue Holding Co. Inc. .................................. 34Bank of Holland, The .........................................2 Muskegon, MI 49441 <engine/>......................................................... 34 Lake Trust Credit Union ................................ 34 Right Place, The ............................................... 24 231-798-4669 phone • 231-798-8335 faxBank of Northern Mich., The ..........................2 Ernst & Young................................................. 4, 5 Lakeshore Advantage.....................................13 Seaway Community Bank ................................2Battle Creek Unlimited ...................................11 FCC Inc. ............................................................. 34 Learning Network of Greater Kzoo ........... 23 Southwest Michigan First............................. 23 COPYRIGHT ©2013. All Rights Reserved.Beltline MRI....................................................... 34 FEI......................................................................... 34 Magna International ........................................11 Travel Michigan...................................................1 Reproduction or use of any portion withoutBFG Supply Co. ............................................... 34 Fifth Third Bank ......................................2, 4, 34 Manistee DDA...................................................12 Two Men & A Truck ........................................ 34 permission of the publisher is prohibited.Borgess Health ................................................ 34 Ford Motor Co. ..................................................5 MEDC........................................................... 14, 23 USGBC................................................................ 25Bosch .....................................................................8 Founders Bank ................................................. 34 Mercantile Bank .................................................2 Vizidef Display Technology .......................... 27Brann’s Steakhouse........................................ 27 Frey Foundation ................................................12 Metro Health..................................................... 34 Vogue Theatre ...................................................12Center for Michigan ....................................... 23 Glencoe Capital ................................................14 Mich. Health & Hospital Assn. .................... 26 W.K. Kellogg Foundation .............................. 23Colliers International .......................................11 GNS America .....................................................13 Michigan State University ............................ 26 West Mich. World Trade Week ................... 25Commerce Corp. ............................................ 34 Grand Central Market.....................................11 Miller Johnson .................................................. 28 West Michigan Bank ......................................12Consumers Energy ..........................................12 Grow Michigan ...................................................1 Northstar Capital ..............................................1 Western Michigan University ...................... 23Cosma Castings ................................................11 Herbruck’s Poultry Ranch ............................ 34 O’Keefe & Associates ............................. 28, 32 Zeeland Farm Services ...................................16Visit www.mibiz.com MiBiz / MARCH 4, 2013 3
  4. 4. MANUFACTURINGBRAVENEW WORLDSuppliers feel squeeze from capacityconstraints, new launches andglobalization pressures by the OEMsCONTINUED FROM PAGE 1A s suppliers and analysts look out at the automo- tive landscape of 2013, they see an industry that’s significantly changed. For one, vehicles produced in North America The Ford Fusion is “the poster child for globalization,” said ADAC Automotive CEO Jim Teets. He said the company secured the are now mostly the same as vehicles produced contract to supply door handles for the Fusion by having an alliance with global partners that have plants in North America, in other regions. Because of that commonality, Europe and Asia. “About 80 to 85 percent of platforms are going to be global in nature and if you don’t have some form of global OEMs are increasingly looking for global sup- footprint, you’re not going to be able to compete in the world marketplace,” he said. MIBIZ FILE PHOTO: JOE BOOMGAARD ply chain partners to serve production in all regions. The pressure of globalization is puttingthe squeeze on suppliers just as they’re having to ramp up for Working in suppliers’ favor is that most have a breakevenhigher production volumes and new launches – and as their All eyes on the bottom line point of around 12 million units, according a January reportcash flow becomes an issue. While going global is certainly The problem is not all suppliers are created equal in their abil- prepared by Deloitte LLP for the Original Equipment Suppliersa growth opportunity for suppliers, not all of them want the ity to handle the operational and cash flow challenges inherent Association (OESA). Put another way, North American auto-scale and risk that comes along with being a global company. with the volume of new vehicle launches. motive production could drop by more than 25 percent and the The pace of change has also accelerated in the auto industry. “While the new launches provide opportunities for suppli- suppliers would still breakeven.Between 2012 and 2015, for example, IHS Automotive forecasts ers, the changeover also could pose some cash flow issues,” said “You do like to see a low breakeven because that meansthat automakers in North America will launch more than 90 new Mike Wall, director of automotive analysis at IHS Automotive you’re printing money on units over that breakeven,” Wall said.vehicles. That new model activity has translated into a flurry of in Grand Rapids. “Not only do you have the cash flow risk in the “Barring any sort of global meltdown, that’s going to be a verynew business for the supply chain, which must tool up for the near term, but then you’ve got the execution risk and certainly low-risk proposition to reach some of those breakeven num-new platforms. the program risk that’s associated with the vehicle itself.” bers. That’s a great thing for the supplier side and great for the Adding to the pace of change is increased U.S. customer Suppliers have to lock up a lot of cash in tooling costs to pre- automakers themselves as well.”demand, as well as automakers building more vehicles in North pare for new vehicles, but they don’t get paid until they startAmerica rather than importing them from Asia or Europe. producing the parts for the vehicle, Wall said. Then there’s theSince 2008, automakers have added about 1.25 million units of question of whether the vehicle will hit its projected sales fig- Who has the wherewithal to act?production capacity in North America, according to IHS data. ures, he added. After persevering through “the dark days,” Teets said ADAC’s A consensus of automotive analysts expects production The rapid pace of vehicle launches begs another question financial health is “back to business as normal” and able tolevels to rise 3 percent this year and reach a volume of about of West Michigan suppliers: Are they sitting on enough cash to manage through the heavy launch activity, although the com-15.9 million units. If they’re right – and barring any major U.S. react to the right opportunities? pany is still being picky in bidding on new business so it caneconomic meltdown – it would equal the highest output in a “That’s the billion dollar question right there,” Wall said, manage through capacity constraints.decade since 2003. noting the larger, diversified international suppliers should be “There are definitely capacity issues. Obviously some of the “It feels like you’re a kid on Christmas morning with almost in a good position. people who were financially unstable went by the wayside in16 million in production volume,” said Jim Teets, president and ADAC Automotive, which has plants in Muskegon, Grand the ’09-’10 downturn,” Teets said. “But I think there’s a lot ofCEO of Grand Rapids-based ADAC Automotive, a Tier I supplier Rapids and Saranac, has staffed up in the last 18 months to han- people out there who are still a little on the ragged edge withof door handles and mirrors. “Unless you’re not very well situ- dle the increased production volumes, as well as expanded into capacity, and I’m not sure they have financial wherewithal toated on platforms, the rising North American volume can’t be newer and better paint processes, including at a new high-tech get out of their way.”an excuse for companies doing poorly.” paint facility in Muskegon. But in making those moves, the com- Further down the supply chain, IHS Automotive’s Wall said pany’s leadership kept a keen eye on its balance sheet, Teets said. midsize companies should be well-positioned thanks to the “More than anything, especially being a privately held com- “raft of profitability lately.” Although smaller suppliers are in a pany, you have to make sure you’re really, really focused on the better position than they were a few years ago, many of them Automotive Suppliers Symposium: bottom line,” he said. “Don’t get enamored too much with top line are having a harder time managing their cash flow in the period Ready, Set, Launch sales, in our case, getting to $250 or $300 million in sales. Just keep between tooling up for new models and production, Wall said. an eye on the bottom line. I’d rather flat line “They’ve done an amazing job, too, With the recovery of the domestic automotive industry, the in sales if I can have a consistent, recurrent of really balancing their cost,” he said. supply chain has bounced back significantly since the dark profitability number that’s adequate to our “If you have a Grand “The challenge is as they go looking for days of 2008-2009. But with that rapid growth comes a significant number of growing pains and pitfalls along the shareholders and our owners.” Rapids supplier that that financing from the banks, they’re Teets’ comments reflect the results running into more questions.” way. At the Van Andel Global Trade Center’s 14th Automotive of Ernst & Young’s Capital Confidence doesn’t have a global In the January 2013 OESA Automotive Suppliers Symposium, attendees will learn about successful Barometer for the automotive industry footprint right now, but Supplier Barometer report, respondents auto supplier strategies to manage growth and prepare for from October. The report stated “compa- were asked about their ability to access the future. MiBiz is a media sponsor of the event. nies are choosing to focus on the funda- they have a part that the required levels of capital at appro- ■ When: 7:30-11:30 a.m., Thursday, March 7 mentals.” The percentage of auto exec- is a global commodity, priate costs over the next three months. utives whose top priority was growth Suppliers of all sizes reported high con- ■ Where: GVSU Loosemore Auditorium, Grand Rapids dropped from 89 percent in April 2011 to what we’ll look for fidence in accessing capital for plant ■ Cost: $150 just 43 percent in October 2012. them to do is either and tooling investments. However, their “As automotive executives assess set up as a global confidence in getting capital for offshore ■ Presenters: Jay Moore, director of purchasing for Ford how to compete in an environment with manufacturing operations was largely Motor Company; Paul Lambert, group vice president lower expected growth, this shift in standalone or set up in dependent on their size. Nearly 65 per- at Johnson Controls; Mike Wall, director of automotive emphasis toward improving bottom line region with a partner.” cent of large suppliers (more than $500 analysis at IHS Automotive; and Paul Doyle, president performance and seeking out new ways million in annual revenues) were “some- to improve performance is understand- and CEO of GHSP — JAY MOORE what confident” or “very confident” in able,” the report stated. their ability to access capital for offshore ■ More information: www.vagtc.org, (616) 331-6811 Director of purchasing, Ford Motor Co. Only 2 percent of executives said manufacturing. By comparison, only 37 their top priority was on survival. percent of midsize suppliers ($150M to4 MARCH 4, 2013 / MiBiz Visit www.mibiz.com
  5. 5. $300M) and only one in three small suppliers (less than “It’s one of those prices you pay as you try to make$150M) were somewhat or very confident in their ability sure you have the most flexible operation possible andfund offshore manufacturing. you don’t overshoot the volumes,” he said. While credit is available, banks have gotten out of Jay Moore, director of purchasing at Ford Motor Co.,the business of writing blank checks, Wall said. Instead, agreed.they’re delving deeper into suppliers’ business plans and “I think it’s a new world order now with what hap-looking at issues such as profitability projections and vol- pened in 2008 and 2009,” Moore said in an interview withume contingencies. Some suppliers have reacted nega- MiBiz. “I think suppliers and OEMs are going to be a littletively because they aren’t used to being asked those level more hesitant to suddenly cut metal and lay down capital,of questions, he said. so you look at creative ways to manage it. What you don’t In the Deloitte report for OESA, 71 percent of suppliers want to do is all of a sudden plan for a huge number againthat were surveyed reported favorable relationships withcommercial lenders, while another 11 percent said theirbanking relationships were improving. Brian Black, senior vice president and business bank- and then have it sitting idle. That’s not good for anybody.” Ford’s creative solutions include initiating some new shift patterns within its assembly plants and working with suppliers to avoid unnecessary additions in capacity, BAUER sheet metal & fabricating 4.5Ming executive at Fifth Third Bank in Grand Rapids, said Moore said. The era of constrained capacity also height-the bank has been working with many auto supply chain ens the need for strong relationships and open communi-manufacturers as they navigate the period of change. cations between the OEMs and the supply chain, he said. EST. 1932 “I think the bigger challenge is whether the companies Wall of IHS Automotive said in general, the OEM-are well-capitalized enough to be able to carry this kind of supplier relationships “do seem to be reasonably goodadditional carrying expense, which in most cases is going Number of parts a right now.” supplier might addto be debt,” Black said. “Those that made it through really In its annual 2012 survey of North American OEM to production bydid adjust their expense base to fit into a lower volume relations with Tier I suppliers, Birmingham, Mich.- working on a globalmodel. They’ve actually been quite profitable over the based research firm Planning Perspectives Inc. reported platformlast 12 to 18 months, … but still you might be a little more Ford ranked third out of all North American automak-levered than you’d like to be to take advantage of these ers, ahead of both General Motors and Chrysler, bothopportunities. That’s where it’s a bit of a mixed bag. Some of which also improved to their highest level on record.have stronger balance sheets and more capabilities, but a lot of them Moore credits Ford’s strong supplier relationships for helping thestill have not totally rebuilt the balance sheet (to) pre-2009 levels.” company survive the downturn. Luckily, Black said there are a number of new programs available “Those partners knew that we would be there for them, and asto help small and midsize companies, particularly with mezzanine importantly, we knew that they were going to be there for us,” he said.funding. (See related stories, Mezz fund aims to bridge lending gap,page 1, and Q&A: Brian Black, page 34) Pressure to globalize Surge Bin Those generally improving relationships industry-wide come as auto-Guard against overcapacity makers look to reduce the number of suppliers they work with andRegardless of how easy it is to access credit, one thing that is certain as they try to achieve more economies of scale by shifting to globalis that most automotive suppliers – indeed, the automakers them- vehicle platforms.selves – are taking a pragmatic stance at adding any additional capac- Increasingly, that means having “a common part with a commonity or headcount. supplier across the globe,” Moore said. “I’d much rather have an industry that’s increasing and maybe a little “If you have a Grand Rapids supplier that doesn’t have a globalbit worried about not having enough capacity,” said Wall, who forecasts footprint right now, but they have a part that is a global commodity,an era of tight capacity running for another two years. “It’s better than what we’ll look for them to do is either set up as a global standalone orthe alternative of (asking) how are we going to get rid of all this capacity set up in region with a partner,” Moore said.because we overshot where we thought the market was going to go. We’re In the case of ADAC, the company is part of the international Vehiclegoing to bump our heads against capacity shortages here and there. I Access Systems Technology (VAST) Alliance with Milwaukee-baseddon’t think it’s going to be life-threatening at the supplier level or the Strattec Security Corp. (Nasdaq: STRT) and Witte Automotive of Germany.automaker level, but it’s going to make for some interesting times.” “For a company our size – approximately a $200 million Wall said he expects suppliers to incur more premium freight chargesand overtime pay as they wrestle with how to keep up with demand. See AUTO SUPPLIERS on page 6 Automotive supplier M&A still active 80 years of By JOE BOOMGAARD | MiBiz are starting to drive up a bit because the industry is doing well. jboomgaard@mibiz.com There aren’t as many fire sale deals out there.” But because vehicle production is increasing, executives are sheet metal M any West Michigan automotive suppliers are still con- busy working on their own businesses and trying to meet aggres- sidering selling their businesses or acquiring companies sive volume targets, he said. even after the flurry of M&A activity in late 2012. The problem: A lot of them are just too busy to work on deals. Automotive supply chain observers say the interest “There’s just so many competing priorities right now. They’re just trying to manage the business,” Wall said. “Do we have time to even think about this other bolt-on acquisition when we’ve got and steel in doing deals is still present. Most surviving suppliers’ finances all of these other priorities?” have been buoyed by the auto industry recovery and owners feel The industry’s improving fortunes could open opportunities they are finally in a position to sell, while other shifting genera- tional dynamics are pushing aging owners to consider cashing out. for more private equity companies to enter the mix, either as they look to pick up strategic acquisitions or to divest companies they fabrication But because the industry is working at such a fevered pitch to picked up during the downturn, Wall said. meet increased production forecasts, many executives are finding Wall also sees fatigue playing a role in some owners’ decisions their attention span for doing deals is limited. Last year, companies looking to avoid to sell. As automotive suppliers feel pressure to be more global, many business owners just don’t want to take on that risk and expertise higher taxes caused M&A activity to go “like uncertainty. He said owners need to ask themselves if they’re crazy,” but it’s now returning to a more normal comfortable ramping up efforts in international markets. pattern, said Mike Wall, an analyst with IHS “Do you have that fire in the belly to go and explore Europe or Asia Automotive. It’s just that the normal pattern or South America? For some of those companies, it may be yes,’” Wall feels “sluggish” compared to last year’s hectic said. “For others, it may be, ‘Now is the time (to sell). I can get a good pace, he said. price for it and maybe I’ll go off and do something else.’ I think that’s www.bauersheetmetal.com An October 2012 Ernst & Young survey of going to be a key decision that will be made company by company.” automotive executives found only 27 percent Each company needs to evaluate its own unique set of circum- of respondents in North America expected to stances, he said. Wall pursue an acquisition in the next year, down “If they’re profitable and throwing money down to the bottom from 40 percent in April of last year. line and maybe they have a second generation or third generation “I haven’t closed the book on M&A in this industry at all,” Wall coming down the pike that is interested in running the business, said. “What I think you’re seeing is that some of those sale prices they may not be all that enthused to sell,” Wall said.Visit www.mibiz.com MiBiz / MARCH 4, 2013 5
  6. 6. MANUFACTURING AUTO SUPPLIERS these markets,” Wall said. “You can exist as a regional supplier here – I do believe that – but Continued from page 5 it’s going to become challenging. There’s going to still be pressure to go global or serve global. company – to have the global footprint we For those suppliers that do plan and strategize have, we are extremely happy,” Teets said. to take that business global, I think they’re “Really, if we didn’t have VAST and that going to be well-positioned.” global footprint, we probably wouldn’t The need to go global could also effectively have defended half of the business we serve as the driver for some smaller, family have. We did it as much as a defensive owned suppliers to sell out, rather than go move to protect our home market. About through the process and the risk of develop- 80 to 85 percent of platforms are going to ing international operations, Wall said. (See be global in nature and if you don’t have Auto Supplier M&A still active, page 5) some form of global footprint, you’re not Ford’s Moore said suppliers that don’t going to be able to compete in the world want to expand internationally would still marketplace.” have a place in the supply chain for platforms Teets points to Ford’s global platform for like the F-Series pickup trucks, the Mustang the Fusion sedan as “the poster child for and other large executive cars that the com- globalization or having a global footprint.” pany only sells in North America. ADAC led the design and engineering of the “We have local platforms, so there’s still platform’s exterior door handle, which it plenty of opportunity,” Moore said. “It’s will produce in North America. Its partner not going to be a mandatory requirement Witte produces the handles in Europe for the for every supplier to have a vastly global Mondeo model built on the same platform. footprint. We recognize it’s a significant Likewise, the VAST Alliance will soon launch investment.” production at its Chinese facility for cars pro- That said, he acknowledged Ford will duced in the Asian market. work with its selected international partners “All told, that’s about a $25 million job,” to drive the manufacturing, design and plat- Teets said. “If we didn’t have a global foot- forms of the future. print, I doubt that we would have gotten even “Globally is where we have to grow,” he the North American volume.” said. Getting a contract for a global platform The good news for suppliers, said Wall, is could mean adding upwards of 4.5 million that they still have time to make the decision units or more to a part’s production run, which to become global suppliers. sweetens the pot for suppliers, said Wall of IHS “The ship has not sailed,” he said. Automotive. “(Globalization) brings in a whole lot of “As a supplier, you may have to have some uncertainty, but I don’t think suppliers have sort of answer, whether that be a joint venture missed the boat, either. or alliance or licensing your product, or maybe “There’s a significant amount of opportu- even a wholly owned operation in some of nity for the suppliers out there.” CFO AWARDS CALL FOR NOMINATIONS OF THE YEAR Spotlighting best practices and excellence by PRESENTED IN West Michigan’s financial executives. Nominations COOPERATION WITH being accepted online at www.mibiz.com/events GOLD SPONSOR: Deadline: 11:45 p.m. on Friday, March 29, 20136 MARCH 4, 2013 / MiBiz Visit www.mibiz.com
  7. 7. Monday, March 11, 2013 Radisson Hotel, Lansing 8:00 am - 1:00 pmVisit www.mibiz.com MiBiz / MARCH 4, 2013 7

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