03/28/04 — Cooper-Standard, including Wayne plants, searches for buyer

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Cooper-Standard, including Wayne plants, searches for buyer

By Sam Atkins
Published in News on March 28, 2004 8:30 AM

Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. wants to sale Cooper-Standard Automotive Group, which includes two plants in Wayne County, according to a company spokesman.

Roger S. Hendriksen at the company's corporate headquarters in Findlay, Ohio, said that Lazard Freres, an investment banking firm based in New York, is contacting potential buyers.

Hendriksen said managers of all Cooper-Standard plants received a letter Wednesday about the possibility of a sale and were asked to relay the information to their employees.

"At this time, our board of directors believes that it is appropriate to evaluate strategic alternatives for the group," said company President Thomas A. Dattilo. "We believe that Cooper Tire & Rubber may best be served by dedicating our resources to investing in our tire business and further pursuing global expansion."

Hendriksen said the process of finding a potential buyer could take between four to six months, and if the sale does occur, the buyer would make all decisions regarding what to do with the business and what would happen to all of its plants and employees.

The company expects to continue operations as usual by seeking new business, developing new products and filling customer orders as needed to maintain the expected level of customer service, the release said.

Cooper-Standard Automotive is based in Novi, Mich., and had revenue of about $1.66 billion in 2003.

Cooper-Standard has two plants in Wayne County, the 167,000-square-foot plant on Fedelon Trail and a 207,000-square-foot plant on Woodland Church Road.

The plant on Fedelon Trail was established in 1984 as a Standard Products plant, and in 1999, Cooper Tire and Rubber Co. combined with it to form Cooper-Standard Automotive.

The plant manufactures rubber seals for car doors and windows and ships the seals to Ford plants in Norfolk, Va.; Kansas City, Mo., and Dearborn, Mich.

Combined it supplies seals for all the F-150 pickup trucks manufactured, or about 800,000 vehicles a year, according to Jim Wall, personnel manager.

Wall confirmed that the plant received the letter, but was unable to comment on the details of the letter or anything else related to the possible sale.

The business was named Wayne County's "Industry of the Year" in 2003 and has grown to employ over 800 full-time employees.

Around 270 employees were hired in a five-month period last year after it invested over $5 million to upgrade equipment. It gained two new contracts last year, the 2004 Ford F-150 pickup truck and the 2004 Chevrolet Colorado pickup.

The plant on Fedelon Trail conducts all of the extrusion, or primary, processes for the company and some secondary operations. The Woodland Church Road plant, which was established in 1997, has secondary operations only.