Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association opening Windsor office to support local industry

Dale Molner/CBC News

First time in 72 years the association has opened an office outside Toronto

For the first time in its 72-year history, the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association is opening an office outside of Toronto.

As of the first week in June, the APMA will have an office at the Ed Lumley Centre for Engineering Innovation at the University of Windsor.

“It’s important because about a third of our members are in the Windsor area and in an incredible spectrum of members from tool-and-mold makers to advanced applied mobility technology,” said APMA president Flavio Volpe.

Volpe said they have hired two veteran industry experts from Windsor to staff the office, people who the APMA says have spent their careers in the Windsor supplier sector and have been advising the APMA for years.

Mike Bilton is the vice-president of supplier programs. He said being located in the Ed Lumley engineering building will be a benefit to both the APMA and the university.

“The APMA provides the university with direct access to relevant, current industry activity and processes via manufacturing centres. In turn, the university provides industry, including APMA member companies, graduating students that feed our industry, a pipeline of talent that we so desperately need in automotive as we push ahead,” said Bilton.

Bilton will be joined by Karen Speers, the senior director at the office, who Volpe said, “Spent a lot of time in developing [the] workforce. Recruiting, cultivating, training workforces.”

Volpe said that in addition to helping local companies with regulatory issues, the people in the office will be seeking out markets for them here an abroad.

“But also be our representatives on the ground during the day. There’s a lot that happens in Windsor that it’s a very unique microcosm of the auto sector that where you’ve got chambers of commerce, you’ve got the municipality, you’ve got representatives both of industry and government that are working on automotive issues every day,” said Volpe.

Volpe said it was important to have two people who know the Windsor automotive sector well to be going to bat for them.

“I think for us to be able to do our job and help lend new investments down there, we need to be able to speak clearly about the workforce that’s there,” said Volpe.

He said Bilton will also be running the technical aspects of the APMA Arrow 2.0 project, the next phase of the prototype high-tech car that the APMA is taking around the world to showcase Canadian automotive engineering and technological capabilities.