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Gonzalez Production Systems Acquires Operations of Clearr Industries; Merger Creates 'Powerhouse' in Machine Tool Systems for Auto Body Closures.

MADISON HEIGHTS, Mich., Sept. 23 /PRNewswire/ -- Gonzalez Production Systems, Inc., an automotive machine tool supplier, has acquired the Pontiac, Mich. operations of machine tool specialty company Clearr Industries, Inc., enhancing the company's expertise in automotive body-in-white closure systems. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

"Completion of this acquisition fulfills the long-term strategic goal of the Gonzalez Design Group to become a full-service supplier in each of our four commodity arenas," said Ric Gonzalez, president and CEO of Gonzalez Production Systems. "Additionally, the increased capacity and the Quality Management System that Clearr provides addresses our customers' desire to work with larger minority suppliers with proven quality capabilities, strengthening the value-chain relationship."

"With this acquisition, we're merging two outstanding operations to create a powerhouse enterprise offering automakers and body panel suppliers an unmatched combination of customer focus, expertise and heritage," said Rick K. Borst, vice president of operations for Gonzalez Production Systems. "Adding the Clearr Pontiac operations to our own dramatically extends our design and manufacturing capabilities. It also creates some unique synergies with our parent companies -- the Gonzalez Group and Progressive Tool & Industries Co. (PICO) -- themselves two of the most respected names in the manufacturing tooling business."

Gonzalez Production Systems intends to retain the approximately 150 experienced employees of Clearr's Pontiac operation, who were key to the company's past growth.

Initially, Borst said, Gonzalez Production Systems will focus on the manufacture of closure, welding and assembly systems for automakers and tier one suppliers within the North American market. Sales for the company are expected to be approximately $50 million for 1999, making Gonzalez Production Systems the largest certified minority business in the machine and tooling industry.

Borst said he believes several factors will drive stable, steady growth for the company, including its keen focus on customers, technical expertise, team approach, proven ISO9001-certified quality operating system and concentration on its core competencies -- as well as the auto industry's increasing commitment to minority suppliers.

With this acquisition, Gonzalez Production Systems now operates dedicated facilities in Pontiac and Oak Park, Mich., covering a total of more than 210,000 square feet and employing about 175 people. Customers of the expanded Gonzalez Production Systems include The Budd Co., DaimlerChrysler Corp., Ford Motor Co., General Motors Corp., Saturn Corp. and PICO.

Clearr Industries -- most recently owned by Charles G. Long, Edward J. Apfel and Michael J. Kuron -- was founded in 1979 to specialize in tooling for body-in-white closure systems.

Gonzalez Production Systems, which derives from a joint venture created in late 1998, is 51 percent owned by Ric and Gary Gonzalez, principals of the Gonzalez Group, and 49 percent owned by PICO Holdings Corp.

About The Gonzalez Design Group

Established in 1975 as Gonzalez Design Engineering Co., the Gonzalez Design Group has grown into the auto industry's leading minority-owned engineering enterprise, offering a comprehensive range of engineering and design services to the automotive, aerospace and communications industries. Based in Madison Heights, Mich., with nearly 1,000 employees and more than $100 million in sales in 1998, the Gonzalez Design Group comprises six operating units:

* Gonzalez Design Engineering -- a supplier of welding systems and assembly tool design, automation and manufacturing process engineering;

* Gonzalez Manufacturing Technologies -- which offers total design and build capabilities in weld guns, prototyping and production tooling, fixtures, gauges and material handling systems;

* Gonzalez Contract Services -- which provides contract engineers, designers, technicians, programmers and graphic artists to automotive and communications clients;

* Gonzalez Integrated Marketing -- which offers marketing communications services, from marketing strategies through print production of annual reports and promotional materials;

* Gonzalez Graphic Communications -- which provides specialized graphic services including technical illustration, technical manuals, corporate identity packages, desktop publishing, web site development and lithography; and

* Semi-Kinetics -- which produces electronic printed circuit boards and assemblies for the automotive, telecommunications and computer markets.

About PICO

Progressive Tool & Industries Co., of Southfield, Mich., was founded in 1939 by Anthony Wisne and grew to become North America's leading designer and producer of automotive body assembly systems. Operating 25 facilities in the United States, Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Germany, Brazil, Argentina and South Africa, PICO now has 2.5 million square feet of manufacturing space under-roof and employs 5,300 people.

PICO's full-service manufacturing systems offering includes body-in-white welding and assembly systems, trim and chassis assembly systems, dies, assembly and test equipment, and service maintenance of in-plant equipment. With 1998 sales of approximately $800 million, PICO was recently acquired by Fiat S.p.A. of Turin, Italy. Together, PICO and Fiat's Comau operations create the world's largest transportation production systems group with estimated annual sales of approximately $2 billion.
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Publication:PR Newswire
Geographic Code:7EGYP
Date:Sep 23, 1999
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