Firm shuts Mich. plant, moves work to N.H.

Plans of a Michigan-based automotive parts manufacturer to close a tooling fabrication facility and transfer equipment to its New Hampshire facilities will not necessarily bring jobs to the Granite State, they will allow the employees of its New Hampshire operation to work more efficiently.

Collins and Aikman Corp., producer of cockpit modules and automotive floor and acoustic systems and suppliers of instrument panels, automotive fabric, plastic-based trim and convertible top systems, announced it will close its Troy, Mich., tooling operation by March 31, 2006, transferring existing equipment to its facility in Dover, N.H., to aid in the continued production of proprietary tooling. Company officials point to the high cost of production in making their decision.

“Following careful and in-depth evaluation, we have elected to exit the injection mold tooling fabrication portion of the business,” said company president and CEO Frank Macher. “This will alleviate difficult capital requirements on our balance sheet and improve our cash flow.”

Collins and Aikman employs 140 people at the Troy facility. Company officials expect employment levels to balance as it completes existing fabrication between now and March.

While employment to the company’s three New Hampshire sites is not expected to rise, production capabilities are expected to be enhanced by the transfer of equipment according to company spokesperson, David Youngman.

“The transfer of equipment to our Dover facility will provide them with an upgrade in equipment and help them to do a better job,” Youngman said.

Collins and Aikman currently has three facilities in New Hampshire – two in Dover and one in Farmington – employing a total of 315 people.

The news of the Troy closing came eight days after Collins and Aikman announced it was chosen by DaimlerChrysler AG’s Chrysler Group as a supplier of a portion of the interior systems on a future platform 2008 vehicles. – TRACIE STONE

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