8 Companies Play Growing Role in Northern Michigan Economy

Magna Interior Trim

Magna International is no secret to the world. As a global giant with more than 119,000 employees and $30 billion in annual sales, it is the largest auto parts supplier in North America and was one of the suitors bidding for Chrysler back in 2007. But the company is new to Northern Michigan- something that happened in early 2011 when it purchased a company in Benzonia that specialized in the fabric trim work for high-end automobile interiors (high profile project: the Tesla Model S, 2013 Motor Trend Car of the Year). On the verge of bankruptcy, the acquired company was slated to be closed in May 2011, and when Magna purchased it, the plant was bringing in about $5.5 million a year in business, explains Joe McCluskey II, who played a lead role in putting the acquisition together and is general manager of Magna Interior Trim Components.

When assessing the acquisition, a key point in McCluskey’s mind was the presence of a Northern Michigan small town work ethic and the depth of experience in the longtime workforce. Those characteristics have proven a good bet. The plant more than doubled revenue in 2012, to $12 million, and McCluskey sees remarkable growth ahead: the revenue target for 2015 is $55 million.

Hiring, of course, will have to keep pace to match that kind of growth, and McCluskey says Magna is only happy to make the investment. “We want to make a commitment not just to the plant, but to the entire community,” he says. And having a Northern Michigan location gives back to Magna in other ways too. It turns out that customers and Magna staff love opportunities to visit the Benzonia location. “We have people stay at Crystal Mountain, so there’s golf, skiing- Up North is a huge draw,” he says.

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