Buyer of ex-Visteon factory in Ypsilanti will use site for manufacturing
A new wave of skilled automotive manufacturing will move into Ypsilanti's former Visteon factory sometime in 2010 after its new owner - precision tubing manufacturer Angstrom USA - renovates what today is a 1 million-square-foot building.
"Initially we have a plan to redevelop the site," said Nagesh Palakurthi, president and CEO of the private company based in Taylor. "We'll bring it up to 2010 style and usability."
His ultimate goal, Palakurthi said, is to consolidate his company's manufacturing operations and move some of Angstrom's 400 global jobs to the Ypsilanti property.
There's also room for future growth as grants or other incentives become available, Palakurthi added.
"A good portion of the building will be used pretty quickly," he said.
The purchase was finalized Friday, officials told AnnArbor.com Monday. The seller, Automotive Components Holdings, is a Ford Motor Co.-controlled holding company that started the sales process after the Ypsilanti plant closing was announced in 2005. ACH was charged with shuttering and selling the plant, which Visteon had operated for five years.
Palakurthi declined to disclose the purchase price, but said he'd been considering the building for at least a year. He also looked at up to 30 other properties in the region as he weighed buying a new facility.
"It's a manufacturing building with very good visibility on I-94," he said. "It's a good site, and there's a good workforce available there."
ACH officials said parts of the factory date back to the 1880s, with much of it rising up piecemeal over the years as it operated under various owners, including Ford.
Before the plant closed, employees made starter motors and ignition coils. Under Angstrom, employees will build highly engineered specialty tubing for customers that include Ford, Toyota and Chrysler.
Palakurthi said an architect is working on a plan to bring more uniformity to the building, with some new construction possible in the existing footprint. ACH will demolish about 250,000 square feet as part of the deal, and that work will begin in January.
Changes will be most visible by improvements planned to the building along the I-94 frontage, Palakurthi said.
"It's going to become a standard, high-tech looking building," he said.
Despite the downturn in the automotive sector, Angstrom is experiencing growth, Palakurthi said.
Its financial stability lets the company take advantage of the opportunity to buy the building, he added.
"It's the right thing to do at the right time," Palakurthi said. "We'd like to grow (in Michigan) if it's feasible."
Paula Gardner is business director of AnnArbor.com. She can be reached by email.