London has the parts to be best in business
London building diverse business community
A business community is only as strong as the sum of its parts. If those parts happen to be auto parts manufacturers, so much the better.
Brose, a key part to London's growing business community, is in the final stages of opening its doors early in the New Year. Brose North American, which is based in Auburn-Hills, Michigan, is in the final stages of completing its $81-million Canadian automotive manufacturing facility.
This is great news for the London Economic Development Corporation (LEDC), which had aggressively promoted the merits of setting up shop in this area of southwestern Ontario.
Michael Stoschek, president and CEO of Brose Fahrzeugtelle GmbH, said London is a "competitive business environment," and the strong support received from LEDC, led to the multi-million dollar announcement.
It's the first venture into Canada for the company.
The announcement is the latest in a long line of like-minded companies moving here over the past few years.
That list includes: Transform Automotive (transmission parts), Intier (automotive seating) Thyssenkrupp Budd Systems (rear modules for Equinox, drive shafts), Copperweld Automotive (automotive steel tubing), Starlim-Sterner (liquid silicone rubber for automotive), Confidential Automotive (stamping and welding), Magee Rieter Systems (automotive insulation and carpeting), and Keiper Ltd (automotive seating frames).
It also means hundreds of new jobs in an already red-hot employment market.
Where will the new workers come from and why has London suddenly become the place for auto parts manufacturers?
John Kime, president and CEO of LEDC gave a number of reasons for attracting the auto parts manufactures.
"Companies understand that they can access a high quality labour pool here. We have workers who have the skills and work ethic that will make their businesses a success," said Kime.
"Our community, lead by the LEDC, has done an excellent job in working with our clients and satisfying them that their business costs here will be fair and reasonable."
And as for the workers, the LEDC doesn't see a shortage currently.
"The work shortage we talk about relates to the ability to find suitable workers in future years," said Kime.
Kime said the Brose announcement was the culmination of two years of negotiations. He was delighted that Brose, a growing force in the auto parts industry, chose London, and thinks the excellent business, social, and cultural advantages of having Brose here will be a huge addition to the community.
The new Brose facility will be located on 13 hectares in the Forest City Industrial Park, and will manufacture seat adjusters and door components. The new plant will employ about 300 people during Phase One of operations, and the 16,000 square-meter facility could expand to 37,000 square-meters (and 500 employees) over the next few years.
Founded in Germany after World War I, by Max Brose and chemist, Ernst Juhling, Brose Fahrzeugteile GmbH & Co. continues its success as a family-owned and financed business. It has expanded globally with 7,000 employees and 30 locations in Europe, North and South America, Asia and Africa.
No doubt, London is on a hot streak - especially when it comes to attracting auto parts manufacturers.
Across the street from Brose the Michigan-based TransForm Automotive announced it would build a $15-million US plant on a 4.5-hectare (10.6 acres) site in Forest City Industrial Park.
The 65,000 square feet plant will produce transmission parts and initially employ about 150 people and again, their plant could also be expanded to 200,000 square feet and employment could be boosted to 450. Their plant is also scheduled to open in the New Year.
Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco echoed Kime's sentiments about the addition of Brose to London's business mix. "When you get a company from overseas and they chose London as their Canadian location, it puts us on the map as a good place for business," said DeCicco. "It says that our community can compete around the world."
She adds that Brose will create many jobs in the community, which the city of London has worked hard in the last five years to keep the jobs in London.
"This is a sign we are being successful," said DeCicco.
Brose North America has been growing its North American operation for a decade. In that time, it has secured more than 30 contracts with five OEMs.
The London facility is the fifth production plant for Brose North America. Kime paid a visit to Brose's headquarters in Coburg, Germany to show the LEDC's interest in attracting a facility here, and that scored big points with Stefan Fritzsche, president, Brose Canada Inc. "The support during our first steps in this new marketplace was more than we expected," he said. "They valued our business and were interested in a long term relationship."
As far as London being a rival for the Greater Toronto Area when it comes to auto parts manufacturing Kime doesn't agree. "Not once have we been competing with the GTA as an alternative to this market because their business costs, including labour, are significantly higher than those experienced in Southwestern Ontario. The GTA does not have the "geographic proximity" advantage to the OEM customer that exists in London."
London Business Times
Oct 21, 2004