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Published: Tuesday, 9/9/2008

Supplier files plan to expand near Jeep

BY GARY T. PAKULSKI
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

In a surprising move, a company that supplies components for the struggling Dodge Nitro and Jeep Wrangler has filed plans for a major expansion of its Toledo factory.

Decoma Systems, which assembles front ends for the Toledo-built vehicles at its 173,000-square-foot plant in North Cross Industrial Park, wants to enlarge the operation by more than 50 percent to "accommodate increased production," according to documents filed with the Toledo-Lucas County Plan Commissions.

But sales of the Wrangler and Nitro have been sliding, and officials of manufacturer Chrysler LLC have indicated the Nitro likely will be discontinued by 2011.

Scott Worden, a spokesman for Decoma in Troy, Mich., could not immediately confirm the company's plans. Decoma is part of Canadian auto parts giant Magna International, of Toronto.

The Toledo plant, at Jason Street and Nathan Drive, opened in 2005 with 125 employees to supply the redesigned Wrangler and the Nitro.

The expansion would indicate Decoma expects to boost business with other car makers or could receive additional orders from Chrysler, either for existing models or new models.

A Chrysler spokesman said yesterday that he was unaware of any plans to increase production at the firm's Toledo assembly complex.

"Right now, we don't have announced plans to increase production at those plants," said Ed Saenz, a spokesman for Chrysler in Auburn Hills, Mich.

The Toledo plan commission will consider the expansion request at a meeting Thursday.

The request was filed by Wieland-Davco Corp., a contractor in Lansing. It calls for a 99,000-square-foot enlargement of the factory, which is on 20 acres a few miles north of Chrysler's assembly complex.

Contact Gary Pakulski at:

gpakulski@theblade.com

or 419-724-6082.



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