Auto supplier plans 186 jobs at ex-Toyota plant


WKW Erbsloeh North America supplies decorative and functional aluminum parts to the auto industry. Photo via

An auto supplier with German roots is planning to buy a former Toyota Tsusho America plant in the region and invest up to $23 million to convert the facility.

WKW Roof Rail Systems will use the plant in Battle Creek to produce aluminum roof rail systems for the North American automotive market and create 186 jobs in the process, according to the Michigan Economic Development Corp. on Wednesday.

WKW Roof Rail Systems is a newly formed subsidiary of WKW Erbsloeh North America in Pell City, Ala., which is a subsidiary of WKW.automotive in Wuppertal, Germany.

WKW Erbsloeh North America previously acquired Bowers Manufacturing Company in Portage, which makes extruded aluminum components, and indicated plans to grow its North American market and expand the production area.

WKW.automotive CEO Peter Kruft said the company plans to “build-up the extrusion business in North America in the same way we serve the European market.”

European mission

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is credited with helping to attract the company to Michigan, which was chosen over a competing site in Alabama.

“When we presented our future planning, we appreciated it very much to receive such valuable support from the state of Michigan, especially Governor Rick Snyder, and all other involved authorities,” Kruft said.

Snyder met with WKW.automotive executives during his investment mission to Europe in April, when he and a Michigan delegation visited Germany and Italy to promote business opportunities in Michigan with major company executives and government officials.

“Governor Snyder's meeting with WKW executives in Germany underscored our strong relationship with the company and demonstrated again that Michigan is more business friendly than ever,” said Michael A. Finney, president and CEO, MEDC. “The opening of the facility in Battle Creek will further strengthen WKW’s Michigan presence and provide additional high-paying jobs for years to come.”


The state has awarded the auto supplier a $950,000 Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant for the project.

The city of Battle Creek is also offering support to the project in the form of property tax abatement.

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