Global Retool Group
Brighton-based leader in supplying retools and retrofits of OEM manufacturers receives assistance through MEDC’s Capital Access program
Global Retool Group America (GRG), based in Brighton, serves as a system integrator with a focus on overall engineering for new, retooling, retrofits, overhauling and service for automated assembly systems, welding systems and CNC machines, including fixturing for all machine tools.
The company was first founded in Erkrath, Germany, as SVQ GmbH in 2004. Since then, GRG has grown its portfolio in many product groups to serve customer needs and its business model by combining the expertise of its product companies. In 2010, WEMA VOGTLAND America LLC, the group's U.S. subsidiary for machine tool retooling, was founded in Belvidere, Illinois, with many projects surrounding CNC retool and retrofit applications.
Vincenzo Longo joined WEMA America LLC to grow sales and develop a further customer base in June 2016; at the time, WEMA America LLC had only seven employees. That December, WEMA LLC closed and moved its operations to Wixom, becoming Global Retool Group America LLC. According to Longo, the move from Illinois to Michigan made sense, from the state’s storied automotive history to its talented workforce.
“The heart of manufacturing is here closer to home in Detroit,” said Longo. “That was primarily the reason for the move. When I came on board in 2016, that was the first thing that I did because most of the manufacturing for Stellantis and all the headquarters for the automotive industry are here in Detroit. We're very happy in Michigan, I must say. The technology in the industry is here, and more importantly the pool of people that we need for our business is here. Because we have such a big automotive foundation in Michigan, you tend to find better qualified engineers or designers, and even electricians or mechanical builders. That made it a little bit easier for us to find people; even as we’re diversifying into general industries to reduce our dependence on automotive, it just made a lot of sense.”
With a travel hub at Detroit Metro Airport and accessible location in the Midwest, GRG’s home base in Michigan also allows for connectivity to its partners in Germany and customers in states including Indiana, Alabama, Arkansas and Wisconsin.
Following the move to Michigan, GRG continued to develop its customer base and hired specialized workforce to complement the work growth within the automotive sector and other general industries. Over the last seven years, GRG has grown from one location to four locations, including Canada and Mexico; the company also grew from seven to 84 employees and from $2 million in sales revenue to $33 million. In 2020, GRG relocated to Brighton.
GRG is a leader in supplying retools and retrofits of any OEM manufacturer and is a trusted OEM supplier to companies such as Ford, GM, Stellantis, Daimler, Generac, and Rivian. The company is also a trusted supplier to Tier 1 companies such as Magna, Vuteq, Valeo, Purem by Eberspaecher, Martin Rea, Bosch and GSHP, among others.
The continued growth of GRG has come through exceptional teamwork, customer satisfaction, employee retainership and the continued hiring of further Michigan-based employees. With that growth also came the challenge of cash flow and buying power.
According to Longo, now the president of GRG, the overall competitive market presents itself with suppliers that have greater financing for investing in projects via R&D, specialized skilled people, software to improve design concepts, better terms with customers and, most importantly, buying power with suppliers with discount incentives and terms.
The management team at GRG had been exploring credit options with several institutions without success for several years before meeting David Morrison, senior vice president of business banking for Citizens Bank, three years ago.
“David Morrison introduced the MEDC programs to Global Retool Group,” said Longo. “He guided us though the entire process and helped match us to the correct MEDC program to solidify the resources we require for further expansion of our Michigan-based group. GRG future growth and success relies heavily on the hard work, trust and dedication from both the MEDC team and Citizen’s Bank, particularly David Morrison.”
Morrison worked with the MEDC’s Capital Access team during SSBCI 1.0 and used the collateral support on a previous borrower. Already familiar with the program, he reached out to the Capital Access team in Fall 2022 about using SSBCI 2.0 funds to help support a line for Global Retool Group.
Up until that point, GRG had funded all its working capital needs by negotiating terms with their clients and affiliate company loans. Citizens Bank proposed a $7 million working capital line of credit to support the business. Without the support of the Capital Access Program, Citizens Bank would not have been able to lend the business the full $7 million line that they needed.
Ultimately, the Michigan Strategic Fund provided $3,493,000 in collateral support on a $7,000,000 working capital line of credit; to date, the project is the largest one MEDC has had using SSBCI 2.0 funding.
“Fast-growing companies that work in the automotive industry often face challenges finding adequate support from a bank. Exacerbating the difficulty experienced by an auto supplier client and a bank are the very conservative payment terms on specific purchase orders,” said Morrison. “Suppliers can face acute working capital issues. In this specific transaction, we used the MEDC’s Capital Access Program to bridge the temporary collateral shortfall experienced by our client, Global Retool Group. The liquidity facility Global Retool Group now has available to support purchase orders provides them the ability to continue its successful growth trajectory. The MEDC programs are excellent tools used by our bank. Further, the professionals with whom I’ve worked at the MEDC are terrific. They quickly analyze pertinent issues and diligently work to successful outcomes for all stakeholders in transactions. Bottom line, they do good work for the bank and its clients.”
In a continuously changing and demanding industry, the support from the MEDC has allowed GRG to remain competitive and keep business in North America as opposed to customers seeking solutions in lower cost countries. This is achieved by better payment terms, better discounts and less needs from customers for upfront payments but keeping milestone payments. The MEDC support also lessens the workload for financial cash crunch situations and provides breathing room to focus on the growth of the group as opposed to continuous mitigation of cash crunch events.
Thanks to support from the MEDC and what Longo calls a “tight-knit network” and robust supplier base across Michigan, GRG is poised for continued growth and success in the state for the years to come.
Learn more about the ways MEDC supports Michigan businesses through its Capital Access programming at michiganbusiness.org/services/access-capital or contact MEDC for personalized business assistance.