Michigan auto parts companies scramble to fight backlog during reopening

Suppliers are working to get back up to speed

NOVI, Mich. – When major manufacturers shut down in March, many smaller producers were left in limbo.

Now, as the state’s manufacturing sector kicks back into high gear the race is on for down-supply partners to get back up to speed.

MORE: Reopening Michigan

One of those is Setco in Novi. The small shop repairs and maintains manufacturing spindles, the parts that make the parts in some of Michigan’s largest plants and factories, including the Big Three Automakers. When the virus hit they were forced to make drastic cuts.

“Through the pandemic we’ve had to do furlough, so we’ve gone down to as low as 50 percent of our workforce,” Tom Hogan is Setco’s director of North American sales said.

On a tour of the shop, Hogan said once manufacturing reopened the back log of work was daunting.

“The last eight weeks have been a little challenging for us normally working six to seven days a week, nine to 10 hours a day.”

For now Hogan says the work has been steady and, like many downstream companies, have been able to reduce the backlog of products.

“Typically we repair between 100 and 110 spindles per month,” Hogan said. “What that really means we’ve been able to chip away at that backlog and right now it’s allowed us to help our customers with their downtime because we don’t have that big backlog.”

Hogan said they were unable to get federal assistance during the pandemic because they’re part of a larger company. A problem faced by many other small producers which makes the recent rise in cases both in Michigan and across the country a looming threat.

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