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Old 10-11-2003, 06:46   #1 (permalink)
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U.S.A.:Johnson Controls venture to open Warren plant to produce Ford seats

By Bill Koenig / Bloomberg News

A Johnson Controls Inc. joint venture said it will open a Michigan plant that eventually will employ about 600 workers to produce seats for Ford Motor Co. pickup trucks and sport-utility vehicles.

The Bridgewater Interiors LLC venture said in a statement that it will start making seats next year at a Warren factory for F-150 pickups and Expedition and Navigator sport-utilities. The Detroit-based venture is with Detroit-based Epsilon LLC, said Johnson Controls spokeswoman Debra Lacey.

Johnson Controls, the world's second-largest maker of auto interiors, earlier this year was awarded Ford seat business that previously was held by Visteon Corp. That business will be filled by Bridgewater and a Johnson Controls plant in Plymouth Township, Michigan, the company and its joint venture said Friday.

Bridgewater, which didn't say how much it will invest in the factory, will begin production at a site that had been occupied by other operations of Milwaukee-based Johnson Controls. The factory will be in a tax-free district designed to encourage development in economically distressed areas. The seating production is being moved from a Chesterfield Township, Mich., plant that Johnson Controls took over from Visteon.

Bridgewater is certified by the Michigan Minority Business Development Corp. as a minority-owned joint venture. The production assigned to Bridgewater is Ford's largest-ever minority contract, said Paul Wood, a spokesman for the automaker. He declined to provide the value.

Johnson Controls shares rose $1.17 to $103.10 at 4:01 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. Lear Corp. is the largest maker of auto interiors.
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