Pluck supplants good luck. Look at North American Stamping Group: This resilient enterprise – which has endured for more than 40 years – is more nervy than nervous, reports Dan Harvey.
With strategically placed locations, North American Stamping Group (NASG) – an innovative company that implements new technology and manufacturing processes – resides at the forefront of the automotive industry.
Founded in 1968 – and with a stamping division established in 1979 – NASG is a Tier-2 supplier to the automotive industry, providing metal stamping and sub-assembly services, indicates Ken Schlimme, sales manager for NASG Canada.
Typically, a Tier-2 company is of a local or regional nature, describes NASG President Michael Haughey. But NASG has a broad footprint – covering the United States, Canada and Mexico.
“You might find a stamper in the United States, or in Canada or in Mexico, but it is rare that you find a company that has complete NAFTA coverage,” says Haughey. “We have four plants in the United States, and one each in Canada and Mexico. We’re preparing to add a seventh plant in 2013.”
Adds Schlimme: “We focus on logistics – products and services – to save clients money. We support each customer in every region we touch.”
That means a broad expanse. “While we focus on North America, we ship all over the world,” says Haughey. “Our work reaches South America, as well as the United Kingdom, Germany, China and Japan. Clients’ increasing move toward global platforms drives our broadening reach.”
Manufacturing Locations – Separate But Aligned
The privately owned company has locations in Tennessee (in Portland [North American headquarters] and Pulaski), as well as in Ada, Ohio; Muncie, Ind.; Woodstock, Ontario; and Queretaro, Mexico. Each facility is a business unto itself, with specific areas of specialization.
The Portland facility, opened in 1998, underwent two expansions to reach its current size of 118,000 square feet. Manufacturing space includes a fully automated underground scrap system. Presses are progressive and three axis servo transfers range in capacity from 400 tons to 800 tons, the company reports. Secondary operations include welding, assembly, vibratory finishing and washing. Key product focus is ride control stampings, emissions control, NVH and seating components.
The Pulaski facility, a 1993 acquisition, measures 59,000 square feet (following a 2012 expansion). It boasts high-speed presses ranging from 45 to 250 tons. Key offerings include ride control and seating components. Secondary operations are the same as Portland’s.
The 25,000-square-foot Ada, Ohio facility (a 2002 acquisition) specializes in heavy duty brake components for the truck, bus and trailer markets, as well as seating components. Press range tonnage extends from 160 to 600 tons. Both a progressive and a tandem transfer line are available. Secondary operations include resistance welding, MIG welding and washing.
The Muncie, Ind.-based plant – a 158,000 square-foot, 2009 acquisition – specializes in the noise, vibration and harshness market. Here witness the production of body mounts, engine mounts, inner and outer vibration components for passenger, light car and commercial vehicles. Fully automated progressive and transfer press lines run from 150 to 800 tons. Secondary operations –e.g., projection and MIG welding, grinding, washing and vibratory deburring – are done in house.
In Canada (Woodstock, Ontario) NASG services the automotive industry with metal stampings and welded assemblies. The facility has grown from 25,000 to 167,000 square feet. Plans include a 72,000 square-foot expansion in 2013. The plant deploys the most sophisticated equipment; customers realize the most effective solutions in the most cost-efficient fashion. The facility has more than 25 years’ experience supplying stampings to the exhaust, seating and structural chassis industry segments.
Meanwhile, in Mexico (Queretaro), NASG opened a 76,000 square-foot facility in 2009. Current expansion – measured at 151,000 square feet – is nearly finished. Here, look at stamped parts and weldments for automotive ride control, brackets, exhaust, vibration and harshness control parts, and general stampings, for the automotive and other industries.
Combine the Tennessee and Mexico facilities: You’ll find the largest North American manufacturer of ride control stampings, for both shocks and struts.
While each location operates as a stand-alone business unit, organizational resources are shared. “In particular, these include sales, engineering, tooling, program management, TQPS and finance,” reveals Haughey.
The sales/engineering group represents all plants, promoting logistics and just-in-time solutions. “During the recession, those issues were considerable. They continue to be. A great deal of automotive industry activity is moving into Mexico. Even there, we offer instant solutions.”
Multi-Million Dollar Enterprise
Company sales exceed $200 million, thanks to expertise in exhaust components, ride control, weldments, hinges and other components that include NVH, seating, structural chassis parts and brakes. As far as growth, the company has witnessed a steady 20-plus percent sale rate in the last three years.
NASG has faced its share of challenges, underscored by Haughey’s industry observations: “During the recent recession, many of our competitors went into bankruptcy or liquidated their business. But we see the automobile market heating up again. In our case, during the recession, the industry went down to about nine million cars. But now it is back up to a healthy 14 million automobiles. That will drive the group and our growth.”
NASG, responding to recent economic circumstances, has initiated a very ambitious capital investment plan, according to Haughey. “It’s going to cover the next 18 months,” he says. “We will be spending tens of millions of dollars in building the business, which means increasing overall square footage, which will include the new facility we’re planning, as well as the expansion of existing facilities, and implementation of new presses, welders, washers, and assembly equipment.”
That places this company in a good position. “The market is moving back to the pre-recession levels,” observes Haughey. “There are fewer suppliers around to manage growth.”
NASG Has Survived
But pushing forward is more than just about surviving. It’s about courage. “Many other surviving suppliers are hesitant to leverage themselves to expand in the next few years,” says Schlimme. “We’ve positioned ourselves to open up capacity and foster growth. Other companies worry that the market will fall out again. They’re scared that it could push them over the cliff.”
And in this current cliff-hanging economic scenario, NASG will no doubt hang on to face another chapter.