Next week’s grand opening of a Plastic Omnium Automotive Systems plant in New Boston, south of Metro Detroit Airport, marks the near completion of the company’s exit from its nearby Milan-based plant.
“We’re officially finalizing all production being fully functional out of the Huron plant,” says Mikel Slater, vice president of human resources at Inergy Automotive Systems – Americas. “We’re now at a point where will be exiting the Milan plant all together (on Dec. 15).” Inergy first acquired the fuel systems plant in 2011, when it announced its plans to move operations to a smaller, more efficient plant.
As of today, nearly 400 people are employed at the New Boston facility, which expects to produce approximately 1.5 million plastic fuel tanks each year. As a result of the earlier purchase agreement, however, the company will lay off about 100 hourly employees from the Untied Auto Workers as of Nov. 30.
Slater says that facility will manage about 260 hourly and salary employees after that. “We are working with the state of Michigan to help those (laid off) employees find new positions,” he says.
Production at the plant officially started in November 2012, with product trials starting in July 2012. R.P. Lilly, trustee for Huron Charter Township and chair of its Local Development Finance Authority, says he is impressed with the community’s newest corporate neighbor.
“These international suppliers bring in jobs, buy homes, spend money at local merchants, and send their kids to local school,” Lilly says. “It’s good for our whole community.”
Lilly says over the past few months, employees from the company have helped in various community efforts, including painting a local history museum, installing a flagpole at a one-room school, and donating backpacks filled with supplies to local schools.
“These are the kind of the corporate neighbors we welcome,” Lilly says.
The grand opening of the $110-million, 292,000-square-foot plant is scheduled for Oct. 15. By invitation only, scheduled guests include Gov. Rick Snyder; French Ambassador Francois Delattre; Hau Thai-Tang, vice president of global purchasing at Ford Motor Co.; Laurent Burelle, chairman and CEO of Plastic Omnium; and Mark Sullivan, president and CEO of Inergy Automotive Systems, The Americas.