Michigan Fire Aftermath Continues to Burn in the Southern Automotive Sector

The fallout continues from a May 2 fire at a Michigan parts supplier, affecting production at more than one plant in the Southern Automotive sector.

The Mercedes-Benz U.S.International plant in Vance, Alabama canceled some shifts in the aftermath of the blaze at Eaton Rapids, Michigan parts supplier, Meridian Magnesium Products of America. In an update late last week, MBUSI said that “As of Wednesday, May 9, MBUSI exhausted its supply of cockpit cross-members and canceled production for its SUV operations for all shifts on May 10 and 11.  We currently do not have parts to resume full production of SUVS next week, but we are working with our supply base to get back to normal production levels. All MBUSI Team Members will be given the opportunity to work the week of May 14 based on a modified production schedule.  We will provide various work options for our Team Members.”

​MPA’s parent company, Meridian, which specializes in magnesium die-casting, is the world’s largest producer of magnesium components and “the world's leading supplier of innovative lightweight cast metal solutions for the transportation industry, ” according to the company website. Not surprisingly, MBUSI wasn't the only OEM affected. According to press reports, GM, Fiat Chysler and Ford production also took a hit. Ford was particularly noteworthy: Ford suspended production of the F-150 pick-up at plants in Michigan and Missouri, and the F-Series Super Duty pick up at its Louisville, Kentucky plant. 

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News reports say that around 1:30 a.m. on May 2, explosions and a large fire at the Eaton Rapids plant injured two people and forced workers to evacuate. The city's Mayor Paul Malewski was quoted as saying that the roof of the plant was destroyed. Although the cause of the fire and explosions remains under investigation, the Lansing State Journal quoted the Eaton Rapids Fire Chief Roger McNutt as saying that Meridian Magnesium Products of America intends to have its entire complex rebuilt and reopened in four months.The fire chief said that the company had recently hired about 300 people to remove debris from the north end of the main plant. Even so, city officials reportedly expect layoffs to come as a result of the plant shutdown.​

Nick Patterson

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