Take 5: Lansing still possible site for plant, supplier says
Five questions, five answers
By Barbara Wieland
Lansing State Journal
ASC Inc. is gearing up for an interesting year.
The Southgate-based automotive supplier, with a 200-employee plant in Lansing, will be challenged this year as General Motors Corp. closes its Lansing Craft Centre, where the Chevrolet SSR is made.
ASC makes 42 components for that vehicle - and nothing else - at its Lansing location.
But it also is the year when the supplier plans to make a big announcement: the location of an assembly plant where it will build vehicles under contract for other automakers. Some automotive analysts say that location will be the Lansing Craft Centre.
Chief Executive Officer Paul Wilbur isn't ready to say where that plant will be, or even if the company will go ahead with those plans. But he said Lansing still is in the running.
"I want to say emphatically, we are not negative on Lansing at all," he said Sunday at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
• You've said that work rules at the Craft Centre could be a stumbling block to operating that plant. What do you mean?
• The work rules and flexibility of our operations are critically important. If ASC were to ever get in the middle of something with the Craft Centre, the work rules would have to be very different than what the CC uses today. It would be a lot more like what we have in our (existing Lansing plant). It is not impossible if the (United Auto Workers union) is willing to talk.
• Are you in discussion with General Motors Corp. about buying the Craft Centre?
• Not at this second. GM is obviously going through enough pain themselves. They are going through a number of their own scenarios. We're really concentrating on developing a vision of what this plant needs to be. General Motors has got to make their own decision first before we can make ours.
• Do you have any contracts yet to build cars for other automakers?
• I've got to be careful about that. I believe we have one. These contracts take a lot of time to develop. The SSR contract, for example, probably took us nine months to negotiate. So, we are in negotiations. But it will take a couple of projects of that type before we will commit to the plant.
• Why didn't the SSR survive?
• The feedback we've gotten from some consumers was that it was pretty expensive. And the utility of the vehicle - it is a hot-rod pickup truck. That earmarks it for lower volume anyway, and we knew that.
• What will happen to your plant in Lansing once the Craft Centre closes?
• We are actively trying to work with some of the other automakers that have plants in the area. We're trying to keep with this subassembly module. Lansing, for us, has been a great workforce, a great town.
Contact Barbara Wieland at 267-1348 or [email protected].
Link to LSJ.com