Spanish automotive supplier Grupo Antolin opening Kansas City plant

05/20/2014 7:51 PM

06/03/2014 10:17 AM

A Spanish firm that manufactures headliners for vehicles is formally opening its Kansas City plant today, an $18 million investment that will employ 120 people.

Grupo Antolin has renovated a 148,000-square-foot building at 1601 Southern Road in the East Bottoms for the plant. The operation will produce headliners for the new Ford Transit assembly line at the Claycomo plant and expects to expand to supplying the GM Fairfax plant next year.

Gov. Jay Nixon was expected to be joined by Ramon Gil-Casares Satrustegui, the Spanish ambassador to the United States, at the opening of the $18 million facility. The Kansas City Council approved a $10.5 million industrial revenue bond for the project last November.

“Ford’s record investment in Kansas City continues to make this region a hub for next-generation auto jobs, and we proudly welcome Grupo Antolin to the area with their new state-of-the art manufacturing facility,” Nixon said in prepared remarks.

The Spanish company is the world’s top maker of headliners, the composite material that is adhered to the inside roof of vehicles. One out of every three cars in the U.S. has a headliner manufactured by Grupo Antolin, according to company spokesman Rafael Martinez Tomas.

“We work with all the most important car manufacturers,” Tomas said. “Nevertheless, in Kansas City we have started to work with Ford, and we’ll do the same with GM at the end of next year.”

The plant is ultimately expected to employ 250 people with the addition of anticipated contracts. The average annual wage will be more than $31,000.

“We have started with the production for one car for Ford; that will be two by the end of the year,” Tomas said. “At the end of next year, we will work also with GM, so all the headliners produced in Kansas City will be ours.”

Grupo Antolin’s investment is part of a series of new suppliers who have opened operations since Ford and GM announced major investments in their Kansas City area plants. The Spanish company has more than 100 manufacturing plants and 22 offices in 25 countries, including nine in the U.S.

Ford has spent $1.1 billion on its Claycomo complex for production of the F-150 and Transit van, and the workforce has expanded to about 5,100.

GM is investing $600 million in its Fairfax plant, which employs 3,900 hourly and salaried employees making the Chevrolet Malibu and Buick LaCrosse models.

To reach Kevin Collison, call 816-234-4289 or send email to kcollison@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @kckansascity.

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