Nothing standard about Cooper-Standard Automotive (CSA); it is the world's largest maker of auto body sealing systems, as well as one of the largest of anti-vibration system (AVS) and fluid handling products. Its body and chassis lines, which protect interiors from noise, dust, and weather, include brackets, mounts, and seals sold under brands StanPro, Tecalemit, and Metzeler. CSA fluid handling products (sensors, tubes, and hoses) are used in heating/cooling, braking, fuel, and emissions systems. CSA sells to such major OEMs as Ford, GM, Chrysler, and Fiat, and some suppliers. After a brief bankruptcy, the company emerged from Chapter 11 in mid-2010, owned largely by Silver Point Capital and Oak Hill Advisors.
The collapse in the automotive industry coupled with heavy debt leveraged by its former owners (Goldman Sachs and Cypress Group) amid the worldwide financial crisis forced CSA to seek bankruptcy relief in mid-2009. Its reorganization, supported by a debt for equity swap by a group of bondholders, ultimately cut its $1.8 billion in debt by more than $650 million.
Moving forward, CSA is concentrating on fuel efficiency, supplying an increasing number of small cars, hybrids, and alternative powertrains that enjoy growing demand. Another focus for the company is using its global presence, which includes operations in about 20 countries, to meet the growing global footprint of OEMs, which have traditionally represented approximately 80% of CSA sales. To better support its customers' growing global integration, CSA has been complementing its facilities in Western Europe with plants in Central and Eastern Europe. For its global operations as a whole the company has been creating a leaner manufacturing base by cutting waste, reducing costs, and boosting productivity.
After OEMs, automotive suppliers and non-automotive customers account for the remainder of the company's sales. Attempting to develop more business outside the non-automotive market, the company currently provides parts for products that include aircraft flooring, commercial flooring, and insulating sheets for power stations.
The company's 2011 sales were boosted by an uptick in volume in most areas, as well as by favorable foreign exchange rates. Also in 2011, as well as in pre- and post-bankruptcy 2010, the company recorded a net income after weathering losses from 2007 to 2009. The trend indicated by a 9% rise in light vehicle sales in 2011 compared to 2010 bodes well for further healthy results.
Restructuring charges in 2011 stood at more than $52 million as the company reorganized its French body sealing operations for a joint venture with Fonds de Modernisation des Equipementiers Automobiles, closed a North American plant, and created centralized shared services in Europe.
Seeking more opportunities in such emerging markets as China, India, Mexico, and South America, where light vehicles sales are growing, CSA has developed a joint venture strategy that has enabled the company to enter new markets with less exposure to risk and reduced capital investment. Its JV partners have included Shanghai Automotive Industry, Guyoung Technology, Hubei Jingda Precision Steel Pipe, Nishikawa Rubber, Toyoda Gosei, and Zhejiang Saiyang Seal Products.
With about 10 design, engineering, and administration centers worldwide, the company also counts product development as another important strategy for growth. The company's research and development staff is focused on developing greener technology by creating more products made of lighter weight and recyclable materials, among other initiatives. The company has been steadily increasing its spend on engineering and research and development, from about $63 million in 2009 to more than $68 million in 2010 and then to about $84 million in 2011. – less