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Combat transmission manufacturer to open doors in Shelby Township

By: Kara Szymanski | Shelby - Utica News | Published March 16, 2020

 SAPA Transmission, a supplier to the U.S. Army, recently announced the completion of the initial construction of its new U.S. production plant and headquarters in Shelby Township.

SAPA Transmission, a supplier to the U.S. Army, recently announced the completion of the initial construction of its new U.S. production plant and headquarters in Shelby Township.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


SHELBY TOWNSHIP — SAPA Transmission, a supplier to the U.S. Army, has announced the completion of the initial construction of its new U.S. production plant and headquarters located in Shelby Township, which is planned to bring 223 new jobs to the region.

Many of the new jobs will include high-tech engineering positions, manufacturing and administrative jobs over the next five years.

Deniz Balta, SAPA Transmission’s vice president, said that the company will be working to move into its new location in the next few months, and any additional modifications will follow.

“We will be moving our research and development activities into the facility during April and May, and (we will be) in operation by June,” Balta said via email.

The company is currently leasing a 48,000-square-foot facility in Shelby Township and plans to move to the new facility by this summer.

In April of 2018, SAPA Transmission, which is the U.S. subsidiary of Spanish-based SAPA Group, started leasing the facility at 11971 Investment Drive in Shelby Township, just off Shelby Parkway and north of 23 Mile Road.

Currently, the company is relying heavily on subcontracted support until the opening.

“We will start hiring more employees this summer, with a target of 20 by the end of 2020 and 223 when we are ready for serial production,” Balta said.

The company selected the Shelby site for the region’s workforce and for its proximity to the U.S. Army’s Ground Vehicle Systems Center and Tank Automotive Command, and major customers such as BAE Systems and General Dynamics.

The total cost to construct the building is estimated to be about $12 million.

Over the next 12 months, the company will spend much of its time moving into the new 110,000-square-foot facility, which will be used to research, develop and manufacture advanced combat vehicle transmissions for the U.S. Army.

“It will bring additional high-tech and manufacturing jobs, additional business opportunities for local business, and further diversified business activity within the Detroit area. SAPA has developed the most advanced fully automatic, electronically controlled combat vehicle transmissions, which will provide the U.S. Army with superior mobility and efficiency, which far exceed the performance and capabilities of the transmissions currently in the Army’s fleet. And this equipment will be made right here — in the Shelby region,” Balta said.

The facility is part of a $40.1 million investment the company is making in the state.

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.

Balta said SAPA has invested over $130 million in developing the company’s combat vehicle transmission technology and is making an additional $40 million investment to establish its new research and development center and production facility in Shelby Township.

“We are doing this to ensure the U.S. Army and our soldiers have the most advanced technology available for use in their current and future vehicles,” he said.

U.S. Rep. Paul Mitchell, R-Dryden, said SAPA Transmission’s move to Michigan and choosing Shelby Township makes sense, as Michigan plays a big role in the automotive industry.

“With our state’s essential role in the commercial automotive industry and in sustaining and developing Army ground combat vehicles, SAPA’s decision to locate their manufacturing plant in the 10th Congressional District is a natural choice,” Mitchell stated in a press release. “I applaud their efforts to grow the presence of the defense industry in Michigan and support our soldiers with the best equipment for the job.”

Balta said SAPA is currently developing a 1,000-horsepower, 50-ton-plus vehicle transmission with the Army’s Ground Vehicle Systems Center. It is also working with three vehicle manufacturers in support of the Army’s Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle programs. SAPA intends to initially produce the CT 1000 and ACT850 tracked combat vehicle transmissions and the SW650 heavy-wheeled vehicle transmissions.

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