Economic Development, Manufacturing, and Technology

Tesla buys West Michigan firm

May 7, 2015
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Tesla Motors
Tesla Motors purchased Grand Rapids auto supplier Rivieria Tool for its first Michigan presence. Photo via fb.com

A Silicon Valley electric vehicle and battery maker’s arrival in West Michigan is indicative of the region’s manufacturing strength.

It was reported yesterday by the Detroit Free Press that Tesla Motors has reached an agreement to purchase Riviera Tool, 5460 Executive Pkwy. SE, Cascade Township. The West Michigan tool and die firm, which employs 100, makes stamping parts that are shipped to Tesla’s assembly plant in Fremont, Calif., according to the Free Press. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

This is Tesla Motors’ first acquisition.

“We are excited to have reached a deal with Riviera and have a presence in the state of Michigan,” said Alexis Georgeson, a spokesperson for Tesla in California. “This acquisition will help us bring additional tool building capabilities in-house and build new stamping and plastic parts in a cost-effective manner, support new metal forming technology development and allow us to increase production as we introduce more models.”

The Right Place Inc., West Michigan’s regional economic development organization, noted the news reflects the strength of the West Michigan manufacturing industry.

“The strength of West Michigan’s manufacturers, in terms of their financial positions, customer diversity, and their level of innovation, when you add all those up, West Michigan really is a hotbed for supply chain manufacturing, which is what Riviera is part of,” said Tim Mroz, The Right Place’s vice presidentof marketing and communications.

Mroz said he thinks people in West Michigan are often surprised to realize what kinds of products are being designed and manufactured in the region.

“We make some incredible products here,” he said. “Stories like this, if nothing else, it leverages and exposes these great stories of innovation that are happening every day in West Michigan that nobody really knows about.”

Right Place support

Mroz said now that the Tesla deal has been announced, The Right Place — which was not involved in the agreement — will be working to set up meetings with both companies to offer assistance and to “ensure they have the support, resources and connections they need to execute the plan that they’ve envisioned.”

Mroz said that support could include intangibles like helping Tesla employees who might relocate to the region — even temporarily or part time — settle in and integrate into the Grand Rapids community, or with services like acquiring additional talent or expanding the Riviera facility.

Tesla 2015 outlook

According to Tesla’s shareholder letter published in February, Tesla entered 2015 with more than 10,000 orders for Model S and almost 20,000 reservations for Model X vehicles. The company expects to deliver about 55,000 Model S and X vehicles in 2015, which represents a more than 70 percent increase over its 2014 deliveries.

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