Published in Manufacturing
Yanfeng Automotive Interior Yanfeng Automotive Interior COURTESY PHOTO

Yanfeng Automotive to sell off Grand Rapids-area operations

BY Tuesday, October 29, 2019 03:15pm

CASCADE TOWNSHIP — Automotive supplier Yanfeng US Automotive Interior Systems has entered into an agreement to sell the company’s Grand Rapids-area operations to a new automotive-focused private equity firm, MiBiz has learned. 

Detroit-based Green Light Growth Partners LLC is buying the business, which will be renamed and will operate as Kendrick Plastics Inc. following the close of the transaction, Debra Ortisi, executive director of communications at Yanfeng, confirmed to MiBiz

“We are selling Grand Rapids to balance our product portfolio, optimize our manufacturing footprint, and prioritize our capital investments,” she said. 

The sale will include all assets and operations associated with the facility at 5050 Kendrick St. SE in Cascade Charter Township. It’s the first acquisition for the Detroit-based private equity firm, according to Josh Schulze, managing partner of Green Light Growth Partners. 

The plant manufactures interior trim components for the automotive industry and has injection molding, paint and assembly capabilities. The location, which employs about 400 people, was a “non-core facility” for Yanfeng, Schulze told MiBiz

“They’re a large global organization with lots of competing priorities, and the facility in Grand Rapids didn’t get the same level of attention as some of the other facilities,” he said. “I saw it as an opportunity to invest in the business and create a standalone business out of what historically has operated as a facility of a larger organization, which will create lots of opportunities for employees, to drive growth and for the business. We want to bring the capital and the resources that take that facility to the next level.” 

The deal will be “the first of many” transactions in the industry for Green Light Growth Partners, according to Schulze, who previously served as senior managing director at Ernst & Young Capital Advisors LLC, where he led the firm’s U.S. automotive and transportation investment banking practice. 

Green Light Growth Partners will target the automotive industry for Tier 1, 2 and 3 supplier manufacturers or services businesses, typically with revenues between $50 million and $150 million. The private equity firm specializes in leveraged buyouts and wants to do deals in which it takes majority control of family-owned or owner-operator companies, as well as corporate divestitures, bankruptcy sales and management buyouts. 

The law firm of Honigman LLP, which has an office in Grand Rapids, advised Green Light on the deal, which is expected to close in December. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. 

“We’re excited,” Schulze said. “It’s going to be a great opportunity for everyone involved.” 

Last year, Yanfeng, a China-based supplier of interior components including instrument panels, door panels and consoles — announced plans to relocate its North American headquarters from the Holland Technical Center to Novi over a three-year period, ending in early 2020, as MiBiz previously reported. The company started in 2014 as a spin-off joint venture with Johnson Controls Inc., which has since divested all its automotive holdings.

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