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Supplier woes halt Ford factory

Part player: Trident, which supplies the local car industry, has hit a financial speed bump.

Trident the latest auto parts-maker to hit strife, stopping Ford production

12 Jun 2009

THE Trident group of companies is the latest Australian car parts-maker to strike financial problems, with the voluntary liquidation of Active Plastics in Melbourne forcing Ford Australia to cease production at Broadmeadows last Thursday (June 4).

Ford was one of the largest clients of Active Plastics and worked with the supplier to relocate its own tooling to another component manufacturer over the weekend to recommence production.

Toyota Australia said the closure of the Trident company did not affect production at Altona because it was not a supplier to Toyota.

Similarly, GM Holden spokesman Jonathan Rose said production at its Elizabeth plant outside Adelaide was not impacted, “but we continue to monitor the situation”.

Separately, another Trident company, Trident Plastics in Adelaide, went into voluntary administration on Tuesday (June 9).

The Woodville-based company is a major supplier to Holden, Ford and tier one supplier Futuris, for which it supplies several large injection-moulded plastic door trim and seat components. Futuris’ major client is Holden, with Ford taking a smaller number of parts.

80 center imageGoAuto understands the administrator of Trident Plastics, which at this stage continues to operate as normal, will meet with creditors over the next week to determine the appropriate course of action.

“We will continue to work with the administrator and monitor the situation but at this point we are unaffected,” said Futuris managing director Mark De Wit. “It’s business as usual out of that factory, under the guidance of an administrator.

“There have been no production stoppages there at this point and hopefully there won’t be. Our people are meeting with the administrators to understand what the likely course of action will be.

“Parts continue to come out for all customers including us, so there is no need for any panic. I think this is going to take a few weeks to pan out,” said Mr De Wit.

The ABC this week reported administrator John Morgan as saying key financial backers had agreed to stand by Trident Plastics, which employed 100 workers and hoped to survive on $5 million of existing contracts.

“In the next couple of days we're going to be talking to the major customers of the business so that we can get continued support from them to get some cash flow into the business,” Mr Morgan told the ABC.

“There are a number of contracts and that's what we got to talk to the customers about.” At this stage no car manufacturers have removed tooling from Trident Plastics, despite the fact that another Adelaide-based Trident company, Asia-Pacific Tooling, is now also in receivership and that Adelaide’s Trident Tooling closed its doors on Wednesday (June 10).

Meantime, Trident Tooling’s demise on Wednesday resulted in the loss of 40 jobs, after the company failed to secure new supply contracts this year.

“Trident Tooling completed a significant contract with a major car-maker in December last year and has not been able to replace that work, with a catastrophic effect on its cashflow,” said receiver David Kidman in a statement.

Mr Kidman said buyers would be sought for Trident Tooling’s plant and equipment, which will have no immediate effect on Australia’s three car-makers, and that he hoped all workers at Trident Tooling would be paid full entitlements under the federal government's employee redundancy scheme.

Ironically, Trident Tooling’s closure was announced the same day the federal and state government’s issued a press release to announce the appointment of an auto components industry advisor, which will assist companies like Trident to avoid similar financial problems.

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