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Wire parts maker grows to meet demand

Keywords: Tags  Albaform, Alba-Metal, steel wire assembly, European automakers in North America, acquisition, robotic welding, wire bending, Lindsay Roseler

CHICAGO — Czechoslovakia’s Alba-Metal Spol s.r.o. is tooling up for growth after buying the assets of a German company that left the United States.

The family owned company, which makes steel wire seat frames and formed wire parts for European automakers, quietly entered the U.S. market in late 2011 at the request of European automakers and their Tier II and Tier III suppliers. Albaform Inc., its U.S. subsidiary, relocated this year from a small Dallas shop to a larger plant in Flowery Branch, Ga., where it has repaired and upgraded existing machinery.

"We make reinforcement wire for automotive car seats," Albaform chief executive officer Lindsay Roseler told AMM. After a year in Dallas, a competitor "wanted out of the U.S. There was a mutual customer between us who asked us to take over that business."

Albaform took over the lease and acquired some eight bending machines and six robotic welding machines.

"We do pure bending of 2- to 6-millimeter wire" primarily, Roseler said. "We have up to 60 parts running at any given time, some simple, some intricate."

The Georgia plant, which makes roughly 1,000 seat frames per week for one program alone, will service suppliers to German automakers that have expanded capacity in the United States and are expected to start assembly operations in Mexico soon.

Albaform is among many European "suppliers moving into the U.S., following the (original equipment manufacturers)," Roseler said. "It’s almost first-come, first-serve. A lot of our competitors are not yet focused on North America, but rather on Russia or China. We’re perfectly positioned here."

Two more framing accounts will ramp up in December and next June. By the end of 2014, with just three contract programs, "we will be making about 100,000 units per year," she added.

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