SAPA Transmission has leased this space in Shelby Township and will build a 110,100-square-foot production facility in the same area by 2020 in a move to make Shelby Township home to the company’s North American headquarters.

SAPA Transmission has leased this space in Shelby Township and will build a 110,100-square-foot production facility in the same area by 2020 in a move to make Shelby Township home to the company’s North American headquarters.

Photo by Joshua Gordon

Combat transmission manufacturer picks Shelby Township for HQ

By: Joshua Gordon | Shelby - Utica News | Published July 30, 2018


SHELBY TOWNSHIP — SAPA Transmission, a combat vehicle transmission manufacturer, recently announced that it is making Shelby Township the home to its North American headquarters, and it will invest $40.1 million into Michigan.

In April, SAPA Transmission, which is the U.S. subsidiary of Spanish-based SAPA Group, started leasing a facility at 11971 Investment Drive in Shelby Township, just off Shelby Parkway and north of 23 Mile Road. The company is hoping to break ground this fall on a 110,100-square-foot production facility next door.

The Michigan Strategic Fund supported SAPA’s investment with a roughly $2.7 million performance-based grant as part of the Michigan Business Development Program.

Along with the $40.1 million capital investment, the move will also create an estimated 223 new engineering, manufacturing and administrative jobs over the next five years.

SAPA Transmission Vice President Deniz Balta said being in Michigan is advantageous in that it locates SAPA next to potential major customers like General Dynamics in Troy and the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research Development and Engineering Center in Warren.

“We explored a lot of different locations around the country, and not everywhere is in a sunny place with palm trees, but Michigan does have some advantages,” Balta said. “Since a lot of our work is planning for the future, we can establish a research and development facility in this area in order to have a close working relationship with these other companies.”

Balta said SAPA Transmission’s parent company is one of the oldest defense companies in Spain and made the transition into the transmission business in the early 1980s. The company opened a sales and coordination office in 2003 in Florida.

SAPA has had a long working relationship with the U.S. Army and Navy, Balta said, and in 2011, TARDEC awarded SAPA a contract to design a high-efficiency powertrain for a 35-ton wheeled vehicle.

Balta said the state of Michigan, Macomb County and Shelby Township were helpful in assisting with the decision to make the move. He said that being in Macomb County will help, as SAPA can make use of the other manufacturers in the area.

“We are not interested in building an all-inclusive factory that produces every bolt and gear, so this location is very flexible with manufacturing and has an extremely qualified workforce in manufacturing and engineering,” Balta said. “When we looked at Michigan and the Mound and Van Dyke corridors, and from I-696 to M-59, there are a lot of companies that suit our requirements, so we didn’t have to invest in the extra people and machines.”

SAPA is expected to open the new production facility in January 2020 and produce 150 units a year. The company anticipates growing the production to 400 units within the first year.

SAPA will join a growing industry sector along Shelby Parkway, including the recently opened Grupo Antolin factory. Shelby Township Supervisor Richard Stathakis said that having companies choose to come to Shelby Township is a testament to how the township is run.

“There is no other greater endorsement of our philosophies than another company like SAPA making their regional headquarters and investing here,” Stathakis said. “It says a lot, and we are looking forward to welcoming the new jobs, as they will soon find out there is no better place to do business than Shelby Township.”

Stathakis said that companies can look at how the Board of Trustees goes about its business and how it has not raised taxes and kept the community stable. Likewise, the township continually invests in roads and offers its own Police and Fire departments.

“I think the word gets out that they don’t have to worry about the community,” Stathakis said. “With a splash pad, golf courses, parks and bike trails, families can move here and enjoy a quality of life that we continue to build on. Companies won’t wake up one day in a community that can’t afford to pay for its Police or Fire departments.”