Officials celebrate Chinese acquisition in Michigan
In a year when US political candidates are criticizing international trade for the loss of American jobs, federal, state, local and Chinese officials were on hand in Warren, Michigan, to celebrate the acquisition of a 79-year-old auto supplier by a Chinese company that will add jobs.
The gathering on Monday marked the takeover of Paslin Co by China’s Wanfeng Auto Holdings. Wanfeng is a robotics manufacturer serving the die cast automation market. Paslin specializes in the robotic automation of automotive welding assembly lines.
Paslin has been operating in Macomb County since 1937 and has four facilities in the county. It had recently been owned by a private equity firm, which sold it to Wanfeng last month for an undisclosed sum.
“We have over 700 employees at our facilities near Warren, Michigan. We plan on hiring an additional 150 by the end of the year. There will be no job consolidations or losses as a result of this transaction,” said Kirk Goins, the CEO of Paslin, who will stay on to lead the company.
“We go from having a privateequity firm as an owner to a strategic owner that wants to stay in this business for a long time. Paslin wants to expand globally, especially in China and Asia. Having a Chinese owner and partner can be an advantage for us,” he told China Daily. “They also want to expand globally and especially in the North American market. We have expansion plans for North America that we can now implement.”
Tommy Wu, CEO of the Wanfeng Technology Group, told the Detroit Free Press that the sale will mean increased trade opportunities for both companies. “This is a happy marriage,” he said. “We are confident the combined force of Paslin and Wengfong will be a great organization.”
“One of the top priorities for Paslin will be to establish a better R&D facility to promote the automation technical innovation,” he said. In 2013, Wanfeng purchased Meridian Canada, the world’s leading supplier of magnesium alloy auto parts.
Chen Ailian, board chairman of the Zhejiang-headquartered company, said at the ceremony that with the participation of Paslin, “(Wanfeng’s) robot industry will soon exceed $10 billion in terms of the production scale.”
Wang Yong, China’s deputy counsel general in Chicago, congratulated Warren on attracting a large amount of investment from China, saying “this will bring great benefits to the local economy and the local people.”
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, who has made five trade trips to China since taking office in 2011, said the talks with Wanfeng had been ongoing for a while.
“This is a great success story for a Michigan company that has a wonderful history in our state,” Snyder told the newspaper. “They started out as a small stamping organization and now have 700 people working in Macomb County. Now we have a partnership with China. It’s a wonderful win for all of us.”
Snyder said he understands the concern about losing jobs to international trade, but said relationships across borders can create a lot of jobs.
“We need to build more global ties and relationships,” he said. “That’s why it’s important that we work hard to get to know China better, but also Europe, other parts around the world.”
Michigan Congresswoman Candice Miller said fair trade can build jobs in both countries. “Today is really a wonderful celebration of seeing dollars come back the other way…coming back to us.’’
Paslin operates at three locations in Warren and one in Shelby Township. The company spent nearly $21 million expanding those locations in the past few years. Established in 1937, Paslin is the world’s leading supplier of welding robot application system and arc welding system
Founded in 1994, Wanfeng has businesses in such fields as auto parts manufacturing, robot and intelligent equipment, magnesium alloy and financial investment, with annual sales of US$3 billion.
We go from having a private-equity firm as an owner to a strategic owner that wants to stay in this business.”