Linamar Delivers Elegant Rebuttal to Eminem’s 8 Mile

Rapper Eminem made 8 Mile Road synonymous with Blue-Collar despair. Linamar’s sleek $25 million tech center celebrates manufacturing and is a beautiful counterpoint.

May 19, 2016

3 Min Read
Linamar Delivers Elegant Rebuttal to Eminem’s 8 Mile
Drew Winter

LIVONIA, MI – Detroit rapper Eminem made 8 Mile Road famous as a place he wanted to escape, but Canadian auto supplier Linamar is doubling down on its location on the famous stretch of asphalt a few miles west of Detroit.

On Wednesday, the Guelph-ON, Canada-based company cut the ribbon on an innovative $25 million tech center that will employ more than 185 people in high-skill engineering, CNC machining and manufacturing jobs. A spokesman says that number likely will grow past 200 as the company expands.

Like many suppliers building new tech centers in the metro Detroit area, Linamar has seen strong profits in recent years and is using the facility expansion to consolidate smaller operations into one modern facility where engineers, designers and manufacturing people can work together more efficiently.  

At the facility, it is developing a new electric rear-axle module for hybrid CUVs that engineers say is simpler than those currently on the market and basically is bolted on.

Advanced prototyping technologies such as 3-D printing are being employed to design new types of gears, camshafts and other engine parts.

Linamar also plans to build almost 1 million subassemblies annually for a new 9-speed transmission at the site. Most of its products are aimed at helping automakers meet future fuel-efficiency and carbon-dioxide emissions rules.

Linamar’s biggest business is machining gears, especially difficult-to-manufacture rear-axle hypoid gears. It makes 40 million to 50 million annually, a spokesman says. Working with its McLaren Engineering unit also co-located at the 8 Mile site, the company designed and developed rear axles for the C7 Corvette and the new Camaro and Cadillac CT6.

It also supplies most of Audi’s rear axles for its all-wheel-drive vehicles, gear sets for Getrag dual clutches and power transfer units.

The company has expanded global operations in recent years with various acquisitions to include forging, aluminum casting and metal forming. It now has 57 operations and 23,000 employees worldwide and recorded revenues of $5.2 billion in 2015, a 24% increase over the previous year. 

Company Started in a Basement

“From a single lathe in my father’s basement to a multi-billion-dollar global manufacturing company, Linamar has come a long way in our short history,” CEO Linda Hasenfratz tells attendees at the ribbon-cutting ceremony. The company is celebrating 50 years of existence this year.  

Linamar acquired McLaren Engineering in 2003, which has occupied the 8 Mile site for decades where it has been developing a wide variety of racing engines and also did driveline development and testing.  McLaren Engineering was founded as McLaren Engine by legendary race-car driver Bruce McLaren but it now has no affiliation with the McLaren racing company.

Even so, Detroit’s McLaren has been involved with many memorable engines, including developing the turbocharger on the legendary Buick GNX when it was known as McLaren Performance Technologies.

Portions of the old McLaren buildings, including dynamometer areas, were left untouched by the renovation. But from the front – and back – the new structure is unlike most of the industrial buildings along 8 Mile. It is distinctly modern, has a European flavor and is designed to be environmentally friendly.

It has a partial “living roof” planted with sedum ground cover to control excess snow and water runoff.

The 3-story rear parking structure resembles an Erector Set and was imported from Europe in modules, then assembled by a crane. Office areas on upper floors are open with low-wall cubes and are surrounded by big windows that offer a panoramic view of the factory floor below.

“We are a manufacturer. We make things. We are not going to hide what we do,” a company official says proudly.

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