Superior Industries International Inc. is relocating its headquarters from Van Nuys to Michigan, a move that will end the aluminum-wheel manufacturer’s presence in the San Fernando Valley and put it closer to its Detroit customers.
The relocation will result in the loss of about 50 managerial and clerical positions to the new offices in Southfield, Mich. The move by the publicly traded company, expected later this year, was partially subsidized by a $900,000 Michigan Business Development Program grant.
“Michigan is the heart of the North American auto industry, and being based here will help us develop even closer relationships with our customers,” said Superior Industries Chief Executive Don Stebbins in a prepared statement. “Michigan also provides a deep talent pool and we are excited to hit the ground running here.”
Superior was founded in 1957 by Louis Borick as an auto accessories dealer and grew into one of the largest aluminum wheel manufacturers. In the early years aluminum wheels were a premium option for car owners to add but which now are found on 80 percent of cars and light trucks made in the U.S. Superior also opened plants in Kansas, Arkansas, Tennessee and Mexico.
As a supplier to the Big Three auto makers, Superior’s fortunes rose and fell with the U.S. economy and vehicle production. The company hit a hard patch following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks when automaker cut back on production.
The recession that started in 2008 was particularly tough period for Superior. As demand for aluminum wheels dropped, it closed plants in Tennessee and Kansas and eliminated wheel production at its Van Nuys location in favor of sending the work to Mexico where it could be done cheaper.
Last year, the company closed a plant in Arkansas, and this year it is opening its fourth factory in the northern Mexican city of Chihuahua.
The family leadership also ended last year when Louis Borick’s son, Steve, turned over chief executive duties to Stebbins, a veteran auto industry executive with parts suppliers in Michigan.
Chief Financial Officer Kerry Shiba said in an interview with the Business Journal the move will not be completed for at least three to four months. He expected that a minority of the 50 employees will decide to move to Michigan.
“It will occur in stages,” Shiba said. “I do not have a perfect prediction but we will give as much notice as we can when the timing becomes crystallized.”
The announcement was timed with company’s fiscal first quarter earnings report, in which Superior narrowly beat analysts’ earnings expectations despite fewer shipments and the costs of closing the plant in Arkansas
The company reported net income of $4.3 million (16 cents a share) for the quarter ended March 29, compared with net income of $4.8 million (18 cents) in the same period a year earlier. Revenue fell 5 percent to $173.7 million.
Analysts on average expected net income of 13 cents a share on revenue of $173.4 million, according to Thomson Financial Network.
Shares closed up 71 cents, or nearly 4 percent, to $19.02 on the New York Stock Exchange.