HomeManufacturingIMMI Acquires School Bus Competitor SynTec Seating Solutions

IMMI Acquires School Bus Competitor SynTec Seating Solutions

IMMI announced it has acquired school bus seating and occupant restraint systems manufacturer SynTec Seating Solutions from Joyson Safety Systems. Financial terms were not disclosed.

IMMI executives met with SynTec employees at its facility in High Point, North Carolina on Friday. IMMI President Tom Anthony said the deal marks the beginning of “an exciting new chapter” for the company based in Westfield, Indiana. It manufactures the SafeGuard brand of school bus seating and occupant restraint systems as well as similar products for ambulances, commercial trucks, fire trucks, off-road, and passenger vehicles.

“Our team has worked hard to design the safest, highest quality seat on the market to protect our children,” Anthony added in a statement. “This acquisition helps to get us one step closer to the day that every child on every school bus will have a lap-shoulder belt when they’re traveling on our highways.”

SynTec seating and seatbelts are manufactured for Thomas Built Buses, while IMMI partners with IC Buses to offer the SafeGuard brand. IMMI recently announced it opened a new manufacturing plant located adjacent to the IC Bus plant in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

IMMI now also manufactures SynTec’s current product line out of the North Carolina plant. A company representative confirmed to School Transportation News that all SynTec employees are eligible to become IMMI employees, and effective on Friday the SynTec name will begin transitioning to IMMI SafeGuard.

IMMI CEO Larry Gray added that he expects a “smooth transition” as the company integrates the two brands. Meanwhile, Chad Blankenship, SynTec’s general manager, said that shared values between the two teams should result in products and customer service “at a greater scale.”

Related: Video Spotlight: IMMI/SafeGuard School Bus Crash Test Demonstration
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Related: BUS Act of 2020 Renews Nationwide Call for Seatbelts in School Buses

The employees at SynTec are now with their third company in less than a decade.

Takata USA, a division of Takata Corporation based in Japan, acquired SynTec when it took over M2K LLC in 2012. But within two years, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ordered Takata to recall all airbag systems across the U.S. because they could explode when deployed, causing serious injury or death in the process.

Takata recalled over 70 million vehicles nationwide. It is considered the largest recall in U.S. history. Federal regulators in 2015 fined the company $200 million. A federal grand jury indicted Takata executives Shinichi Tanaka, Hideo Nakajima and Tsuneo Chikaraishi in December 2016, and a month later federal prosecutors charged the men with fabricating test data to hide defects. The company also agreed to plead guilty to wire fraud charges and pay a fine of $1 billion.

As a result, Takata was forced to declare chapter 11 bankruptcy and dissolve in June 2017. Key Safety Systems, a Chinese-owned company headquartered in Michigan, bought all Takata assets including SynTec for $1.6 billion. The company was renamed Joyson Safety Systems, which continues to manufacture airbags, driver systems and seatbelts.

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