Published in Breaking News

German auto supplier to close 2-year-old Battle Creek operation

BY MiBiz Staff Friday, March 11, 2016 01:26pm

BATTLE CREEK — A German auto supplier plans to pull out of Battle Creek less than two years after its project was first announced. 

WKW Roof Rail Systems LLC notified the state this week that it planned to close its plant at 215 North Hill Brady Road in Battle Creek and lay off 130 workers as part of a restructuring plan it’s enacting “in response to changes in corporate structure and direction.” 

The company expects to shut down operations at the plant by the end of August as it shifts work to other WKW.automotive operations in Portage, Mich. — known as Bowers Manufacturing Co. — as well as other plants in Alabama and Germany. The plant finishes aluminum parts for automotive industry customers. 

“The decision ensures the company will be better able to fully utilize the capacity of its remaining facilities in North America, accelerating work already underway to reduce costs and improve competitiveness,” according to a notice filed with the Michigan Workforce Development Agency. 

The company’s decision to close the plant comes less than two years after it entered the market. 

WKW, a subsidiary of WKW Erbsloeh North America Inc. based in Wuppertal, Germany, bought the former Toyota Tsusho America facility and said it planned to invest up to $23 million and create 186 jobs. The company was awarded a $950,000 performance-based grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corp. to support the project. 

WKW was lured to Battle Creek after executives met with Gov. Rick Snyder during a trade mission to Europe in April 2014. 

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