Tesla tool and die coming to West Michigan a ‘net positive’

Posted at 6:26 PM, May 07, 2015
and last updated 2015-05-07 18:26:18-04

CASCADE TOWNSHIP, Mich. – They still can't sell their cars in Michigan, but electric car maker Tesla just purchased manufacturing company and stamping plant Riviera Tool LLC in Cascade Township.

Thursday afternoon Riviera Tool looked like a place in transition: the sale sign was still posted out front, and so was a notice on the front door, stating when the shop was closed for an earlier meeting.

IHS Automotive Analysis Director Mike Wall said Tesla taking over is a good sign.

“In general it’s a net positive when you see a car company the caliber of Tesla taking an interest in our area, and really the specialties of what you see with the tool and die front; the need to invest in that,” said Wall. “They recognize that need, and they see us as sort of a center of excellence for that.”

Officials have said the Riviera plant has about 100 workers, and they will be able to keep their jobs through the transition into Tesla Tool and Die.

Wall said Tesla buying Riviera helps streamline their tool and die process, especially with new products like the Model 3 coming out soon, which will likely have new parts.

“Tesla in this case, and I think it makes some sense on their end, by acquiring that and bringing that in house, adds a little bit more control on their end, from their perspective,” said Wall. “It really helps to streamline that tool and die process, and that’s really your first line of defense as you’re working on new products.”

As far as the implication for Riviera, Wall was unsure, but he knows the tool and die business is swamped with work in general now.

“When I talk to tool and die shops they are all loaded with business, they’re turning away business they’re so busy,” said Wall. “I can imagine any car company knocking on the door of a tool and die shop, and they’re saying we don’t have any capacity. So this is one of those ways to protect for that capacity as well.”

As the details trickle out, West Michigan, Wall said, can take this as a win.

“As Tesla’s looking at the landscape in the future, their eyes did gravitate towards the Midwest and Michigan, and fortunately for us West Michigan,” said Wall.