Pieces and parts: A closer look at the auto supply chain
Friday, November 30, 2018
Reprinted from Crain's Cleveland Business
By Rachel Abbey McCafferty
While Northeast Ohio is integral in the supply chains of a lot of industries, from automotive to aerospace to construction, the products many of these companies make often go unnoticed by the general public. But these necessary pieces and parts keep the overall products upright and running properly.
This feature aims to highlight some of the products these suppliers make and demonstrate how they fit into the larger manufacturing ecosystem.
This week’s focus is on the automotive industry and the suppliers that keep those vehicles running. Local companies make and distribute everything from the latches for glove boxes to parts for aftermarket fuel systems.
Read on to learn more about some of the companies serving this significant industry.
Robin Industries Inc.
The products Robin Industries makes for the auto sector probably don’t get a lot of attention by the average driver. The company makes custom rubber or rubber-molded plastic parts, which, in the auto industry, tends to mean grommets for passenger and driver doors, or seal connectors where cables go through, said sales and marketing coordinator Suzanne Caraballo.
Every part from the company is custom-made so it fits a customer’s exact device, Caraballo said. And the industries the company serves are wide-ranging, from defense to irrigation to medical devices. The company also offers engineering services.
The employee-owned company has 800 employees. Caraballo said there are three manufacturing plants in Ohio, in addition to a development center and the corporate office in Independence, a plant in Mexico and one in China. The company has been expanding its plants in recent years, including its Berlin, Ohio, health care products plant and its plant in Mexico. Currently, the company is expanding its Chinese plant, Caraballo said in an email.
Swift Filters Inc.
Oakwood Village-based Swift Filters makes filters and filter elements for a wide variety of fluid and gas systems in industries including power generation, paper and pulp and off-highway vehicles. The company, which has about 45 employees, supports tier 1 and tier 2 companies in the automotive sector, as well as the aftermarket, said president Ned Swift.
For the tier 1 and 2 companies, Swift Filters makes an element used in dispensing systems for fluid, adhesive or paint, Swift said. In the aftermarket, the company makes products for fuel and oil systems, as he said the weekend racer may want to change the fuel system his or her car is using.
Wire Products Co.
Cleveland-based Wire Products Co.’s parts can be found nearly anywhere in a vehicle, from the hood to the airbag to the seats.
“We’re everywhere, but you’d never know it,” said vice president of sales and marketing Dan Collins.
There are about 110 employees between Wire Products and its sister company, Globe Pipe Hanger Products Inc., which makes supports to hang pipe in buildings.
Close to 30% of the wire former’s business is in automotive, where it’s a tier 2 or 3 supplier and makes products ranging from seat anchors to latches for hoods, doors and glove boxes, Collins said. While automotive is its largest segment, it’s far from dependent on it. The company also serves markets ranging from aerospace and defense to children’s toys and lawn and garden.
Excelsior Marking in Akron — officially Mark-All Enterprises LLC — makes products that really leave a mark. The company makes products that mark other products, as well as marked products like signs. It has three general divisions: an automotive and machining division, a pre-press job shop for the packaging industry and an office supplies division, said owner and marketing director Katie Sutter. Sutter and her husband, Dave Sutter, bought the 100-year old company in 2002. It has about 27 employees. The company doesn’t make anything mass produced, and everything it makes is customized for the client. “You’re not going to see our products on shelves,” Katie Sutter said. In the automotive industry, the company makes pocket plates and does mold engraving for the tire industry, so things like company logos can appear on the tires. A pocket plate is like a “puzzle piece” on a mold, Sutter said, so if one piece of information needs to change, the entire mold doesn’t have to be swapped out.
Buckeye Fasteners Company
Buckeye Fasteners in Brook Park serves as a distribution division of Berea-based Fastener Industries Inc. The longtime employee-owned fastener company serves a variety of industries, from automotive to appliances to food. The division has about 28 employees; there are about 100 throughout Fastener Industries.
Fasteners are critical in our society, as they hold together everything from the cars people drive to the refrigerators in their homes, said business development manager Larry Kelly. In a car, there can be hundreds of different weld fasteners, he said. Buckeye serves tier 1 and tier 2 suppliers, as its parts end up in larger assemblies. This ranges from the hinge assembly in the trunk to brake assemblies to parts of a gas tank for a major motorcycle maker.
View the article here: http://www.crainscleveland.com/article/20151011/NEWS/151009786/pieces-and-parts-a-closer-look-at-the-auto-supply-chain