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Piston Group acquires Irvin Automotive Products

Friday, September 30, 2016 - 07:00
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Detroit entrepreneur Vinnie Johnson has acquired Irvin Automotive Products, creating one of the largest privately owned automotive supplier groups in Michigan.

Johnson's expanded Piston Group of companies is expected to post record sales of more than $1.8 billion in 2016 with 8,300 employees at 15 facilities in the United States and Mexico. Other companies in the group include Piston Automotive, Detroit Thermal Systems and AIREA, Inc.

Headquartered in Pontiac, Mich., Irvin is a leading manufacturer of interior trim and seating material. A wholly owned subsidiary of Takata, the company has annual sales of $500 million with facilities in Del Rio, Texas; Acuna, Mexico, and Sabinas, Mexico.

"Our vision is to become a fully integrated global supplier," said Johnson, the Piston Group's chairman and CEO. "The purchase of Irvin Automotive strengthens our engineering and manufacturing expertise and will allow us to provide a concept-to-completion platform across the automotive industry and other diversified industries as well. 

"With our eyes on the future, we believe that Irvin will play a significant role in the double-digit growth we expect to achieve over the next several years. It's a company that shares our dedication to quality, teamwork and customer service."

As a group, Johnson's companies now rank among the top five privately owned automotive suppliers in southeastern Michigan, according to Crain's Detroit Business. Piston Group customers include FCA US, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Toyota and ZF.  

Irvin Automotive adds Black Diamond, Delta Airlines, Golden Technologies, Nissan and Southwest Airlines to the group's customer list.

"Mr. Johnson symbolizes the hard-work, spirit and thought leadership that is advancing the standard for minority business enterprises," said Michelle Sourie Robinson, president and CEO of the Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council. "We are proud to see how Mr. Johnson's vision has manifested itself over the past 20 years. And we are humbled by his respect and commitment to our organization and the corporate and minority business constituents we serve."

Johnson said Irvin Automotive will operate as a separate company within the Piston Group, adding that Irvin's President Joseph Finn along with his management team will continue to lead the company. Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Finn noted that his management team was excited about the growth opportunities that will open up for Irvin Automotive under the Piston Group umbrella.

"Vinnie Johnson has quietly built a strong, well-managed company that has become a trusted partner to many global customers," Finn said. "Our employees are looking forward to being part of the organization that he's created."

Founded in 1995, the Piston Group today has become a major automotive supplier that has generated hundreds of jobs in Michigan and elsewhere around the United States. The acquisition of Irvin Automotive is part of the company's ongoing plan for further expansion as a global supply-chain leader.

Piston Automotive and Detroit Thermal Systems design, engineer, assemble and manufacture a wide variety of automotive parts and systems. With annual sales of more than $1 billion, Piston Automotive has 700 employees at locations in Detroit; Redford, Michigan; Louisville, Kentucky; North Kansas City, Missouri, and Toledo, Ohio. Based in Romulus, Michigan, Detroit Thermal Systems has 600 employees with annual sales of $270 million. AIREA, Inc. is an office design studio and furniture dealer with stores in Detroit and Southfield, Michigan. AIREA has 30 employees with annual sales of $20 million. Last year the three companies had combined sales of nearly $1.3 billion. All three are MBE certified. Visit, or for more information.

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