GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WZZM) -- Soaring car sales for Detroit automakers are also benefiting West Michigan auto suppliers.
Local auto parts makers are hiring more people to keep up with growing demand.
Automatic Spring Products in Grand Haven builds transmission parts for Ford. The company's product orders are an indicator of how much dealerships will later sell.
"We see that sales increase a few months before the car dealers do because they have to make those vehicles before they can sell them," says Patrick DeShaw, chief operating officer for Automatic Spring Products.
With Ford's sales soaring, DeShaw says transmission parts are in high demand. In fact Automatic Spring Products recently bought another company and is hiring 18 employees just to keep up.
"We have to respond quicker than we used to also, we like that from the standpoint of we know exactly what we need to make, instead of having orders drop out," says DeShaw.
Last year, Automatic Spring Products spent more than $1 million building equipment to support the auto industry, about a quarter of that was related to Ford products. The latest trend is building vehicles that get better milage.
"More fuel efficient, along with smoother shifting," says DeShaw. "It's really part of Ford's program to increase fuel economy vehicles."
Deshaw says Ford recently opened a transmission plant in China so additional parts will be exported to that location. He adds July is usually a slow month for auto suppliers but that's not the case this year, and he credits the increase in car sales.