Sammon Is Second Generation Savvy

June 20, 2002
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GRAND RAPIDS — Terrence Sammon has always been fascinated by the manufacturing process and how things get made.

So it’s probably no surprise that today he is owner and CEO of Mico Industries, a steel stamping and assembly company that manufactures parts for the automotive, appliance and office furniture industries.

Mico’s primary focus is on the automotive sector, which it serves as a Tier I and Tier II supplier of small to medium stampings and stamped welded assemblies such as hood hinges, secondary hood latches, striker assemblies, suspension assemblies, seating assemblies and seat latches.

Mico is a Tier I supplier to General Motors, BMW, Mitsubishi, BSC and Lear, among others. On the office furniture side, it’s a supplier to Steelcase.

Sammon owns 51 percent interest in the company and partner J&J Investment owns remaining interest.

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Sammon was raised in Detroit. He studied at the University of Detroit and is a registered journeyman tool and die maker. He moved to the Grand Rapids area in 1990.

Sammon’s mother, Christina DeLaGarza, founded Mico in 1983. He grew up around the business, and the analytical and mechanical skills seemed to come naturally. He began his own career in light assemblies and general labor, then moved into tool and die and eventually worked his way through the different tool and die departments.

It was a tooling engineer who introduced him to the world of tool and die.

“He said when you get into tool and die, every time you look at something you’re going to wonder how they made it,” Sammon recalled.

“It is really interesting to see how something is processed. How a car is made. How an engine is made. There is such a wide array of manufacturing, I never get bored with it and the automotive industry is very fast paced.”

His first job was lead person for Mariah Industries, followed by a three-year stint as die maker with Centennial Tool Makers. He joined the family business in 1993. By 1996 he had worked his way up to plant manager, overseeing two shifts, 65 employees and annual production sales in excess of $11 million.

Sammon took over the company in May because he felt “it was the right thing to do.” Today, the company employs 70 people and reaps some $13 million in annual sales. His mother remains involved in company sales.

“There were some growing pains at first, so to speak. She had to learn how to let go. I think we’re working pretty well together. She hasn’t had any complaints yet,” he quipped.

“Basically we’re an assembly job shop, so whatever our customer wants or needs, that’s what we supply,” he said. “We strive for zero defect, which we’ve been doing for most of our major customers for more than a year now. That’s certainly something in our favor.

“Because of our size, we can react very well to our customers’ needs. And our prices are probably a little bit more competitive being that we’re smaller.”

According to the company, among Mico’s strengths are its ability to take over existing business seamlessly, making press time available and meeting customers’ needs in resource, out-source and distressed competitor situations.

Like other suppliers, Mico has felt the squeeze of auto manufacturers demanding cost reductions and what Sammon describes as “tremendous” pricing pressure: “You just have to adjust. You have to reorganize within the company structure.”

Mico is QS-9000 registered and is certified by the Michigan Minority Business Development Council. In fact, about 95 percent of Mico’s employees are Hispanic. Sammon said minority certification basically gives the company more opportunities to look at different contracts.

“But we’re under the same pricing and quality demands that our customers have for everybody else,” he added. “We don’t get any special treatment.”

Sammon envisions the company growing to the $40 million revenue range over the next several years.

“We’re getting a lot more involved in the more complex assemblies, the seating assemblies, and I see us going after that market,” he said. “We’re doing some CNC machining for General Motors and I can see us branching out a little bit more into that, too. So a little bit more into the automation and heavier into the assembly.”

He attributes Mico’s success to its people — from the custodian to the president and everyone in between.

“All a company is is its people. We’ve got a very good team and very supportive partners.”

Sammon shouldn’t have too much trouble putting together a succession plan for the company. He has five young sons, and his world outside of work naturally centers around his wife and family these days.

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