Mitsubishi Motors North America has sold its plant in Normal to an industrial reclamation firm.
Maynards Industries is a Detroit-based company that will take possession of the plant in June.
Mitsubishi says it does not know Maynards' plans for the site and equipment, but are aware they are in discussions with various parties.
Maynards calls itself the largest automotive facility machine equipment auctioneer and liquidator in the world, with more than $250 million in gross automotive equipment sales since 2005. According to the company web site, Maynards currently has millions of square feet of automotive manufacturing facilities under exclusive contract.
Maynards is the sole General Motors automotive equipment recovery specialist in North America and Europe, and was recently awarded the same position for Chrysler North America. The company has also handled significant projects for Toyota, Ford, Nissan, Bosch, and most major financial institutions in North America.
Normal City Manager Mark Peterson says he's optimistic Maynards will find a buyer to reuse the plant as a whole.
“I’m hopeful that with their connections within the industry, they might be able to find a buyer to take over the whole facility,” said Peterson. “Hopefully it will be some automotive manufacturer.”
Industry experts have told GLT though that very few closed U.S. auto plants in the last 25 years have been kept intact for a new owner. Most have been liquidated and torn down.
“I would suspect that they are going try to first find a buyer for everything. If they’re not able to do that, then my guess is they will probably look to parcel it out and sell equipment. Maybe they will even subdivide the building and sell the building as separate businesses," said Peterson.
Maynards' web site indicates the Detroit based company has been responsible for more than $250-million in used automotive shop equipment sales over the past five years, including the sale of more than 20 complete production facilities.
“I’ve got to believe that the plant is worth more as the entire plant than it is to piece-mail it out and sell it in components.” Peterson said. “I think they’re motivated on probably getting as much return on their investment as they can get.”
Peterson says he looks forward to communicating with the company.
“I’ll be anxious to talk with the people from the company Maynards to see what their thoughts are. I’m certainly hopefully that they will commit themselves, at least for a while, to try and find a buyer for the entire facility,” said Peterson.
Mayor Chris Koos of Normal is currently in Germany at a trade fair. Koos has told GLT part of the reason for the trip is to look for prospects to sell or reuse the plant. This is even though the potential sale to Maynards has been in the works for some time and the possibility was known to City officials.
Bloomington Mayor Tari Renner said he is holding out hope the plant can be subdivided and sold to several tenants.
"In all likelihood, if there were a single buyer out there, we would have heard from them by now," Renner said.
Mitsubishi announced last summer it would close its plant in Normal. Late in the year, the company laid off all but a few members of its 1,200 person workforce. The remaining shutdown crew is due for separation in about a month.
Maynards was founded in 1902 and has decades of automotive industry experience. The company also has a fine arts and antiques division.