Lacks Enterprises forms joint venture with Texas firm to supply Toyota with exterior components

CASCADE TWP. — Tier 1 automotive supplier Lacks Enterprises Inc. has formed a joint venture with a fellow family-owned business in Texas to supply Toyota Motor North America with exterior components.

The joint venture has been named GL Automotive LLC, and is the result of a partnership between Cascade Township-based Lacks and San Antonio-based Gruppo Guerra, which was founded by Berto Guerra Jr., chairman, CEO and co-founder of Tier 1 auto supplier Avanzar Interior Technologies. Lacks manufactures trim and finishing components for the auto and appliance industries.

GL Automotive, which ramps up with a staff of around 25 employees, has contracts to supply exterior components for the 2022 Toyota Tundra pick-up truck and the 2023 Toyota Sequoia sport utility vehicle.

Kurt Lacks, director of business development for Lacks Enterprises, said that while GL Automotive will begin by working with Toyota, it does not intend to serve as exclusive providers for the brand. The new partnership will look to work with additional automakers in the future.

GL Automotive is headquartered in San Antonio, recently opening an 80,000-square-foot facility strategically located less than a mile from the Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Texas Inc. assembly plant.

Guerra already had a foothold in San Antonio as Avanzar Interior Technologies serves as the largest supplier to Toyota’s Texas plant and has 1,300 employees there.

“We’re excited to launch the joint venture to support Toyota, which has been a key strategic customer for both Lacks Enterprises and Guerra,” Lacks said in a statement. “Lacks and Guerra are both family-owned companies with similar cultures, dedicated team members and an innovative spirit. The (joint venture) strengthens our technical expertise and our ability to provide best-in-class components and systems to our customers.”

The partnership also reflects Lacks’ current growth strategy, company officials said.

“As Lacks Enterprises looks for opportunities for expansion, we will consider states that support new business and growth opportunities,” Lacks added.

ADAC Automotive, also based in Cascade Township, is another local auto supplier that has leveraged joint ventures to support growth. In early 2020, ADAC entered into an agreement to create a global joint venture to design, develop and manufacture radar-based sensing for use in the automotive marketplace.

Called RADAC Automotive, the joint venture brought ADAC together with Lawrence, Kan.-based Ainstein Inc.

Well before that, in 2006, ADAC also entered into an ongoing partnership with Germany-based WITTE Automotive and Milwaukee, Wisc.-based STRATTEC Security Corp., to form the Vehicle Access Systems Technology (VAST) Alliance, immediately putting ADAC in line for contracts with companies including Honda and General Motors.

As automotive technology evolves and both autonomous and electrified vehicles transform the traditional powertrain, some industry experts have argued that acquisitions and partnerships are essential to keep many suppliers competitive and relevant in the industry.

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