Magna and Lear look to new Detroit plants and minority joint ventures for growth

Hester has served as president of LM Manufacturing since 2019 and has spent the past two decades in the C-suite of supply and logistics provider Global Automotive Alliance. He will own a 51% stake in LAN Manufacturing and oversee operations, while Magna will fund the $18 million construction of the seating factory.

Hester said the joint venture is an opportunity to leverage his extensive manufacturing skills while providing 390 new jobs paying an average of $900 per week plus benefits.

“The transition, the pivot that (Magna) made, which I thought was brilliant in terms of ‘Hey, we’re not just making auto parts, we’re actually a mobility company’ – which matched my vision and to my way of thinking the city and state are trying to maintain their leadership position in these areas,” Hester said. “So for me, I saw a golden opportunity.”

The new jobs should come with union representation, Magna confirmed. The company is not required to prioritize Detroit residents for roles, but it has worked closely with Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and Detroit at Work to recruit residents, Hester said.

“It’s not a requirement, but it’s something we appreciate,” he said. “We feel very strong, very pro-Detroit. We believe we can get the talent we need in Detroit.”

Additionally, Magna and LAN Manufacturing are hosting robotics clinics at a handful of Detroit public high schools and aim to create a club of manufacturing entrepreneurs, Hester said.

Detroit has become a more attractive place to do manufacturing due to Duggan’s courting of automakers and suppliers, access to a large pool of talent, and some localization of the supply chain at the light of disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic to the war in Ukraine, Wyskiel said.

“I don’t think anyone would have predicted it would all turn out like this,” he said. “It will probably reshape the supplier community to some degree. It will always be a balance between cost, ensuring you have a stable supplier and a supplier who can maintain quality. But the equation could change and maybe that the advantage for Detroit is the proximity of very good Tiers 1 and 2, very good leaders, very good people.”

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