MPC in Walworth

The Walworth headquarters of Miniature Precision Components, once a privately held local company with close ties to Big Foot Elementary School. (Photo by Chris Schultz/Regional News)

WALWORTH — Miniature Precision Components, a locally-owned company that has manufactured precision plastic automotive parts here since 1972, is no longer locally-owned.

Jim Brost, one of four family members who owned MPC, said the privately held company was sold last month.

Brost’s father, Jay Brost, founded MPC in his home in 1972, and for several years operated the company out his garage. MPC manufactures plastic automotive components, most of which go under the hood.

The company employs about 600 people in Walworth.

MPC became very successful and one of the top names of locally-owned and operated businesses in the village of Walworth and Walworth County.

The company was purchased by Novares, a France-based company that also makes automotive components. The deal was announced on the Novares website in an announcement dated Feb. 13.

Details of the sale have not been released.

Vadim Yakubov, chief operating officer for MPC, said about the only noticeable change at the company will be a name change. Yakubov said the new name will be American Engine Components (or AMEC), Business Unit of Novares.

Since the sale, Novares executives have reassured MPC officials that there will be no immediate changes in operations. Yakubov said that after the sale, a representative of Novares came to MPC and, he said:  “The message was, everything stays as usual.”

Novares, about six times larger than MPC in terms of sales, is in 22 countries in North and South America, Europe and Asia.

It was the Brost family decision to sell the company to Novares, Yakubov said.

MPC manufactures mostly power train components, while Novares manufactures other automotive parts.

"The two companies are complimentary with little overlap,” Yakubov said.

MPC is located in five buildings in the Walworth industrial park. The Walworth facility employs about 600 people, he said.

Since its founding in 1972, the company has grown to national and international proportions, with locations in Janesville, Prairie du Chien, Richland Center, Southfield, Michigan, Morrison, Tennessee, Nogales, Arizona, Sonora, Mexico, and Nagoya, Japan.

All told, the company employs about 1,600.

According to the Novares announcement, MPC had sales of about $265 million in 2018, which nearly doubled the size of Novares’ engine component business.

MPC’s list of customers includes Ford, General Motors, Fiat-Chrysler, Nissan and Toyota.

Novares is not a publicly traded company. It is owned by private shareholders.

Officials with Novares could not be reached for comment.

Locally, the sale might have an impact on the future availability of a Brost family scholarship to Big Foot High School graduates.

MPC’s founding family has many ties with the high school. All four of Jay Brost’s children attended and graduated from Big Foot.

An artist as well as an engineer, Jay Brost created the statue of Chief Big Foot that stands outside the school.

Jim Brost sits on the Big Foot School Board.

The Brost family has sponsored a four-year, $10,000 scholarship, called the Shirley Brost Memorial Scholarship.

The scholarship, founded in 2004, is named after Jay Brost’s wife, who died in 1999.

The annual competitive scholarship is awarded to a high-achieving Big Foot senior who is involved in community service as Shirley Brost once was. The scholarship winners are announced the day before graduation.

Claudia Ericson, a Big Foot teacher who keeps track of scholarships for students, said she received an email from the family saying they would award the scholarship this year. But there was no indication that the scholarship would continue beyond this year, she said.

There is another $1,000 annual scholarship through MPC that is offered to Big Foot students whose parent or parents work at the company.

Ericson said the future of those scholarships is in doubt.

However, she said the sale of MPC is too recent to predict anything about whether the scholarships will be available for next year.

“The family has been generous with the community and involved with the community,” Ericson said. “I won’t say they won’t. It’s just too new,” she said of the sale.

Mike Hinske, former Big Foot principal, said the company and school once had a close relationship, with MPC offering teachers tours of the plant and also offering vocational education teachers summertime training in the manufacturing process.

“They were great in working with the school,” Hinske said.

Although ownership has changed, Hinske said that there are still people at MPC who have local ties and connections to the Walworth area.

Chris Schultz has been a reporter for more than 40 years. He has been with the Lake Geneva Regional since 2010. He covers the Lake Geneva City Council and the Lake Geneva area schools.