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Jim Griffin leaves Diver for Multimatic
Canadian parts maker sets up engineering base in Australia to address Asia
11 Mar 2015
By IAN PORTER
THE chief executive of leading parts maker Diver Consolidated Industries has left the company to head up a growing engineering base in Australia for Canadian parts group Multimatic.
Jim Griffin has been appointed Multimatic’s director of Asia/Pacific and ASEAN with a brief to support the company’s manufacturing and engineering operations in China and, soon, India.
And the company has also hired three former GM Holden engineers as part of its plan to source Australian expertise for its developing Asian operations.
Mr Griffin has been prominent in recent years as president of the Federation of Automotive Products Manufacturers (FAPM), but is expected to step down in the near future. He was speaking at the 18th Asia Pacific Automotive Engineering Conference in Melbourne.
Multimatic has three main streams of activities, engineering, the mechanisms group and suspension and structures.
The group also includes Multimatic Motorsport, which will build the striking new Ford GT unveiled at the Detroit Motor Show and designed by Hobart’s Todd Willing at its Ontario, Canada operation.
Despite the three local car-makers closing their manufacturing operations by late 2017, Mr Griffin said it was a good time for the company to expand automotive engineering operations in Australia.
One of the reasons was to be close to Ford’s Asia-Pacific engineering headquarters and the other was to tap into the local expertise in carbon-fibre technology at Deakin University in Geelong, south-west of Melbourne.
“Multimatic has a very strong relationship with Ford globally,” he said. “So, with one of Ford Asia-Pacific’s engineering headquarters based in Melbourne, we thought it would be a good thing to play with Ford in this region.”
Multimatic has just built a new plant in Kunshan, China, to supply both foreign and indigenous car-makers in China, and is building another plant in Chongquin.
“We are also looking at building a plant in India to support Ford.
“All of those programs will require engineering support.”
The new plant at Kunshan has its own engineering department, but it and the other plants will be supported from Australia.
“Multimatic is in North America engineering-wise, it is also in the UK and now, with Australia, it means we have become a global 24-hour engineering house.
“We are starting from scratch and we have already put on three ex-Holden guys.
We will just grow the business organically and see where it goes.”
As director of Asia/Pacific and ASEAN, Mr Griffin will be responsible for India, assisting in China and seeing what opportunities there are in the rest of the ASEAN region.
“We have already won business with indigenous Chinese manufacturers and we are bidding on more work.”
Mr Griffin said the suspension and structures division evolved out of Multimatic Motorsport, which has been competing and winning since 1992 in the United States.
In 2000, Multimatic Motorsports won the LMP675 class at Le Mans with a Lola B2K built around a Multimatic designed and built chassis.
Multimatic Motorsports is currently campaigning two Ford Mustang Boss 302Rs, having switched from Aston Martin Vantage V8s.
Mr Griffin said Multimatic was focusing on lightweighting and had been using carbon-fibre in its racing activities for several years.
“We did all of the carbon-fibre in the Aston 177 was us,” he said.
“We are now working with Deakin University and Carbon Nexus, where we have one research project under way.
“There are some pretty smart people down there, and we recognise that.”
Mr Griffin was already familiar with Multimatic as Diver and Multimatic have had a technical alliance since 2002.
“With our relationship with Multimatic, Diver won the side door hinge contract for Territory, and we did side door hinges, still do, for Commodore as a result of that technological relationship.
“Multimatic also did some engineering work with HSV (Holden Special Vehicles) on the W427 front suspension, we did engineering work with HSV on the Coupe 4 all-wheel drive Commodore.”
But it was not all a one-way street, he said.
“When Diver came up with the aluminium instrument panel beam for the VF Commodore, Multimatic sent a bunch of guys down here and they benchmarked the IP beam and took it back to Multimatic.”
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