Auto supplier adding 76 jobs in Springfield

Denver-based company pumping $10M into plant; second expansion eyed for '14

Automotive parts manufacturer Schrader Electronics plans to spend $10 million to grow its Springfield plant, a move that will create 76 jobs and set the stage for another expansion that could come as soon as next year.

Schrader, which has its headquarters in Northern Ireland, makes 40 million tire pressure sensors and valves annually for almost all of the car industry's biggest names. The company, which pioneered tire pressure monitoring systems and invented the pneumatic tire valve, now employs 105 people in Springfield.

General Manager Jared Smalley Jr. said the expansion announced Wednesday involves only equipment and is part of a bigger plan to crank out its products in the geographic markets they are destined to serve. Tire pressure monitoring systems have been mandated in the United States since 2006 but only recently have European authorities made the same move. That means Schrader's plants in Europe will focus on producing for those markets, leading to the Robertson County ramp-up.

“We could be due for adding another line in as little as 12 months,” Smalley said. “With this second line, Europe will still subsidize us a little bit, but the third line will shift all of our production for the North American market to North America.”

Schrader moved into its 50,000-square-foot plant on Evergreen Drive north of Springfield in 2008. The facility had been a production center for wiper blade maker Trico and sits on 10 acres. Last summer, Schrader was acquired by private-equity firm Madison Dearborn Partners, which said it planned to scale the business.

Margot Fosnes, president and chief economic development officer at the Robertson County Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement that Schrader’s expansion plans are “a great endorsement of the Robertson County business climate and workforce. We look forward to working with their management team as they continue to grow.”