Detroit supplier plans $31.9 million expansion, 220 new jobs

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DETROIT — Detroit Manufacturing Systems is planning a $31.9 million expansion to its west side Detroit plant that the supplier says will result in 220 new jobs and advanced manufacturing and assembly capabilities.

The Michigan Strategic Fund board on Tuesday approved a $1.5 million Jobs Ready Michigan Program grant to support Detroit Manufacturing Systems’ expansion plans in the city.

Detroit Manufacturing Systems plans to repurpose its existing 482,000-square-foot plant along the Southfield Freeway near the I-96 interchange and expand into a 60,000-square-foot adjacent building, said COO Scott Cieslak.

The company’s need for more space and workers comes after it won new long-term contracts from existing and new customers in the automotive industry. Those customers were not disclosed in a state of Michigan memo.

Detroit Manufacturing Systems plans to use the $1.5 million state grant for creation of a leadership and training academy, with $100,000 budgeted for creating a training facility for machine operators, Cieslak said.

Cieslak said the remaining $1.4 million will be used for development of a curriculum in conjunction with Wayne County Community College District.

“It’s very much going to be put back into the individual and not so much into the facility itself,” Cieslak told the Michigan Strategic Fund board Tuesday during a virtual meeting … This type of upskilling our employees only makes us more competitive.”

DMS’ capital investments include expanded robotics and advanced machinery, CEO Bruce Smith told the Michigan board.

The 220 new jobs will range from $14-an-hour unskilled labor to $26-an-hour semi-skilled machine operators and skilled trades crafts starting at $34 an hour, Smith said.

“The amount of automation we’re putting into our assembly lines now requires a higher-level technical skillsets, controls engineers and people on the floor who know how to work with and support the robots we’re putting in place,” Cieslak said.

Smith said the sales team at DMS has quadrupled since he became an owner in late 2018.

“Lord willing and the creek doesn’t rise, we fully expect to continue a nice growth curve and we’re excited about doing it here in Detroit,” said Smith, who was formerly CEO of sheet metal tooling maker BTM Co. LLC in Marysville.

Smith bought a majority share of the company from trucking and auto manufacturing businesswoman Andra Rush in 2018 after she grew it to $1 billion in revenue.

The company began in 2012 as a joint venture between French supplier Faurecia Interior Systems Inc. and Rush, the owner of Rush Group LLC, Dakkota Integrated Systems LLC, Rush Trucking Corp. and Rush Supply Chain Management.

In the past, DMS has said it assembles cockpits, instrument and door panels and center consoles to a dozen Ford Motor Co. vehicles including the F-150 pickup, Expedition, Explorer and Mustang.

About 80 percent of the auto supplier’s 800 Michigan employees are Detroiters, said Lauren Strickland, industrial business retention manager for the Detroit Economic Growth Corp.

The company had options to expand its manufacturing and assembly capabilities at its other plant in Toledo or inside a customer’s plant in Chicago, according to the state memo.

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Saurabh Shukla

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