The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Plastech:
A friend of the Big 3 makes big bucks

Jul 28, 2008

Sometimes a family business can really pay off – especially when you’ve got friends in high places.

Julie Nguyen Brown knows this very well. She’s the owner of Plastech, a parts supplier for the Big 3 that recently went bankrupt. Plastech was a part of the whole process the Big 3 did to spin off parts plants into separate companies over the past 30 years. It’s an extremely inefficient way to make cars, and many of those companies went bankrupt over the years, gobbled up by other companies like Plastech, before THEY went bankrupt. But they provided cheap parts to the Big 3 by hiring workers at incredibly low wages. And SOME people, like Brown and her family, were able to make big bucks – even as their companies were going under.

After Plastech declared bankruptcy in February, it cut a deal with Johnson Controls to have that company buy up the majority of Plastech’s business assets. Once the deal was finished at the end of June, some interesting facts came out.

Johnson Controls will pay Brown a total of 9.25 million dollars after the sale, and the “Plastech Holding Company” will continue to exist, 100% owned by Brown – and it will continue to own residences in Arizona and Rhode Island. Any guess who will be using those residences?

Another fact: Plastech had 10 members of Brown’s family on the payroll – and in total, they received 6.4 million dollars from the company in 2007. In addition, Brown’s personal driver, cook and two housekeepers were paid by the company.

Crain’s Detroit Business wonders why Brown tried to keep these facts secret... after all, it says, such numbers are “not out of line” with other companies!