Riviera Lands Mercedes Deal

March 13, 2003
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GRAND RAPIDS — Riviera Tool Co. has secured approximately $17 million in new orders, including lead program manager on a major assembly for a new Mercedes Benz vehicle, during the second quarter of fiscal 2003.

On top of that, the firm said it closed the second quarter of fiscal 2003, which ended Feb. 28, with record backlog of $32.7 million.

"We are very pleased to have ended the second quarter on such a strong note," said Kenneth Rieth, president and CEO of Riviera Tool. "The capital and technology investments we completed over the past several years have expanded our capabilities and allowed us to secure substantial new contracts."

The designer and manufacturer of stamping die systems said that the new orders will include work on vehicles for DaimlerChrysler, Ford Motor Co. and International Truck and Freightliner, in addition to the Mercedes business.

In its role as the leading program manager, Riviera Tool will manage the work of 10 West Michigan tooling suppliers that will build stamping die systems and tooling for the new Mercedes M-class sport utility vehicle. Since the beginning of the 2003 fiscal year, Riviera has added 35 new engineers, program managers and die makers to meet production demand.

"The auto industry's growth plans are based on introducing fresh, new vehicles," Rieth said. "With sales of new vehicles slowing down, automakers recognize that the way to stimulate sales — and move away from costly incentives — will be to launch new products that resonate with consumers.

"Riviera is well positioned to continue to capture new orders for the industry's largest and most complex stamping die systems."

Rieth said that quoting activity "remained strong" as the company begins the third quarter. While the current tooling market is being driven substantially by the transplants, he said that industry experts forecast a significant increase in tooling orders from the domestic automakers during the latter half of this year.

"We are particularly pleased to serve as a leading program manager on this Mercedes vehicle, which will allow us to partner with a number of quality tooling suppliers in West Michigan," he said. "We have been working on a number of innovative solutions — such as taking on greater responsibility for managing large and complex programs — that are designed to strengthen the domestic tool industry and boost production in North America.

"The tooling partnership on this vehicle will be one of the first opportunities to test this new model, and we look forward to establishing long-term relationships with these and other fine tooling suppliers in West Michigan," Rieth said.           

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