Ford Awards J.L French Large Automotive Program

Sheboygan-based caster to invest $18 million in capital to support new business

Ford Motor Company awarded to J.L. French Automotive Castings Inc. a contract to produce the new six-speed front-wheel drive transmission case and related converter housing for the auto manufacturer's new inline 4-cylinder engines. The engines will be installed in the Escape, Fusion, Edge, and Explorer models. Production is slated to begin this June.

J.L. French, Sheboygan, WI, is an aluminum foundry and diecaster specializing in automotive parts, including oil pans, engine front covers, engine blocks and transmission cases. It has two plants in Sheboygan, and others in Glasgow, KY, and Ansola Spain. It is part of a joint venture in China, too.

The Ford project joins several others in progress at the two Wisconsin plants. At the Gateway plant, J.L. French is producing two related converter housings and three other rear-wheel drive transmission cases. The Gateway plant has 1,600-ton and 3,500-ton diecasting machines. The transmission case for the new project will be semi-finish machined at the Taylor plant on new CNCs machine tools added specifically for this project.

J.L. French did not specify how it will be investing $18 million that it has earmarked for the new contract work at the Wisconsin plants.

Over 30% of the transmissions produced will be for Ford, J.L. French said. It projects that 700,000 units will be produced annually by 2013.

"Winning these programs is a testament to our manufacturing capability, our focus on quality, and the dedication of our people," stated J.L. French chairman, president, and CEO Tom Musgrave. "These programs are strategically important to J.L. French as we reposition the company into becoming a world-class medium to large aluminum die cast and machining supplier."

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