Of­fi­cials cel­e­brate Chi­nese ac­qui­si­tion in Michi­gan

China Daily (Canada) - - ACROSS AMERICAS - By PAUL WELITZKIN in New York paulwelitzkin@chi­nadai­lyusa. com

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.”

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