Lear Corporation, James Group International, Fathead, Rock Ventures, Sturgis Molded Products collaborate on ‘Made in Michigan’ Merchandise, Job Creation
April 28, 2015 [Detroit, Michigan] — Detroit’s manufacturing landscape just got more muscle as Xenith, developers of innovative football helmets and shoulder pads, announced today the opening of a new Detroit product assembly facility in the motor city. Several Michigan companies partnered to make the Xenith helmet assembly move to Detroit from the east coast possible including Fathead, James Group International, Lear Corporation, Rock Ventures and Sturgis Molded Products.
Xenith football helmets, featuring Xenith Adaptive Head Protection® – its system of patented technologies designed to provide superior fit and to help minimize the sudden movement of the head during impact–are now being manufactured in Sturgis, Michigan. The helmets are then assembled and warehoused in the newly refurbished 65,000 square-foot Southwest Detroit space at 4335 West Fort Street owned by James Group International and leased by Xenith.
Hundreds of thousands of players at all levels, including youth, high school and college wear Xenith. Xenith is also an authorized supplier of helmets to the NFL and worn on the gridiron across the United States along with Canada, Mexico, Europe, Australia, China and Japan.
Xenith’s new Detroit facility will produce more than 1,000 helmets per day at peak production and will employ 60 to 70 full-time workers to assemble, recondition and paint its innovative protective equipment. The Detroit operation began in early 2015 and the majority of the workers assembling the helmets are Detroiters employed by Lear Corporation. Xenith also will create five new full-time customer service positions in downtown Detroit.
Xenith, part of the Rock Ventures Family of Companies, was founded in 2004 in Lowell, Massachusetts and its helmets were formerly assembled and warehoused on the east coast.
After learning about Xenith’s need for a new assembly facility, Dan Gilbert contacted Patrick McInnis, CEO, and Joe Esposito, COO, at Fathead, and Xenith’s new CEO, and asked them to explore a Detroit facility. Fathead is active in the sports marketing space, producing custom and licensed sports and entertainment graphics.
“Everyone involved in this move is committed to the city of Detroit, providing new jobs for residents and helping Xenith grow,” said Joe Esposito, Xenith CEO. “Fathead’s extensive partnerships across the sports and entertainment industries is a natural to help with Xenith’s growth.”
It also seemed natural to involve Michigan-based Lear Corporation in the new venture.
“Lear Corporation is a global leader in providing automotive seating systems and components to the automotive industry. We have a reputation for superior quality, manufacturing efficiency and customer service. We currently supply performance textiles that are used in some of the biggest brand-name sports apparel in the business,” said Lear Vice President of Seating for the Americas Jeneanne Hanley.
“This opportunity with Xenith will allow Lear to leverage our expertise in manufacturing and our culture of operational excellence to produce outstanding sporting equipment while bringing jobs to Detroit,” Hanley added.
It was also important to Xenith that as much of the helmet be made in Michigan as possible. Sturgis Molded Products in Sturgis, Michigan—about 150 miles southwest of Detroit—is supplying the injection molding interior of the helmet as well as helmet shells and face mask clips.
“From the earliest automobiles to today’s top-quality Shinola watches and bikes, Detroit’s reputation for manufacturing, assembly and design is unmatched,” said Dan Gilbert, who is also a significant shareholder of Xenith. “Xenith is honored to join the ranks of so many storied brands made in Detroit. We look forward to playing a key role in Detroit’s sports story, while growing a business and creating jobs alongside other quality manufacturers in our great city.”
Xenith football helmets feature Xenith Adaptive Head Protection® - a system of patented technologies designed to provide superior fit and to help minimize the sudden movement of the head during impact. Hundreds of thousands of players at all levels, including youth, high school, major college and the NFL wear Xenith helmets. Xenith incorporates the same protection technology in not only helmets but also Xenith’s XFlexion Shoulder Pads. Being “An Authorized Supplier of Helmets to the NFL,” Xenith supports making the game of football a safer game for everyone to play. For more information on Xenith visit www.xenith.com or call 866-888-2322.
About Lear Corporation
Lear Corporation (NYSE: LEA) is one of the world's leading suppliers of automotive seating and electrical distribution systems. Lear serves every major automaker in the world, and Lear content can be found on more than 300 vehicle nameplates. Lear's world-class products are designed, engineered and manufactured by a diverse team of approximately 132,000 employees located in 34 countries. Lear's headquarters are in Southfield, Michigan. Further information about Lear is available at www.lear.com.
About James Group International
James Group International (JGI) is a privately held company and provider of global supply chain management services. JGI was founded in 1971 by John A. James. James overcame numerous legislative obstacles at both the federal and state levels to obtain his 48-state and international operating authority. The legislation at the federal level represented the first major change in trucking regulation and eased the burden of minorities entering the trucking industry. Today, the company provides logistics service initiatives that support a variety of vertical market industries. Their customers include Ford Motor Company, General Motors and Toyota. JGI continues to expand through international joint ventures, information technology as well as the revitalization of acreage they own in southwest Detroit. JGI's intention is to re-introduce the city as a major distribution hub for multi-modal transportation as well as expand current capabilities to different customers. www.jamesgroupintl.com
About Sturgis Molded Products
Sturgis Molded Products (SMP), based in Sturgis, Michigan, has been an innovative partner in plastic injection molding since 1966. Using the latest technologies in scientific molding coupled with its superior in-house tool design and build, the company provides innovative and cost effective plastic solutions such as its metal-to-plastic conversion program for a one-stop "Total Solutions Molding." www.smpco.com
Fathead LLC is the industry leader of officially licensed sports & entertainment graphics and more. Fathead gives fans the opportunity to feel passion For Real by bringing their favorite inspiration to life. Fathead carries thousands of images and maintains over 650 license agreements with leading consumer brands across many industries and professional sports leagues. Fathead Business Solutions provide unique signage and décor alternatives for companies and universities. Based in Detroit, Michigan, Fathead manufactures all products in the USA and Canada for purchase worldwide. For more information, visit www.Fathead.com.
About Rock Ventures
Detroit-based Rock Ventures LLC is the umbrella entity that provides operational coordination, guidance and integration of Quicken Loans Founder Dan Gilbert’s diverse portfolio of companies, investments and real estate purchases. Rock Ventures and its more than 110 affiliated companies across the country employ more than 24,000 team members. For more information, visit www.rockventures.com
Editor’s Note: The Detroit engagement timeline and tenant listing are available here.