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A10 / SUNDAY, OCTOBER 13, 2013 / THE GRAND RAPIDS PRESS

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use on lighter and more fuelefficient new cars and trucks. During the past 25 years, A second company, John Kennedy has led Autocam Medical, has develAutocam Corp. through the oped a thriving business jungles of high finance on making high-precision parts Wall Street, survived the near- for the medical industry. Its collapse of his auto industry products include instruments and, lately, become the poster used in laser cataract surgery child for opponents of the and lightweight titanium Affordable Care Act. tools, plates and screws used Today, Autocam’s future by orthopedic surgeons for seems bright, with 2,150 joint replacements and bone employees on four continents repairs. and growing annual sales of Those products spring almost $250 million. from his and his employees’ Kennedy and his wife, desire to make the world a Medical parts are among the things made by Autocam Corp. Nancy, celebrated Autocam’s better place, Kennedy said. (Katy Batdorff/MLive.com) 25th birthday on Thursday A devout Catholic, he said with a reception at one of his sense of social justice their company’s high-tech of Autocam’s operations in ambitions of developing drive his business goals, as assembly plants. Autodie into the world’s larg- France and Brazil. well as his highly publicized Autocam Automotive Several years later, the est tool and die shop. opposition to the Affordable makes many of the high prefirm’s owners sold the When Kennedy told Spruit Care Act, or Obamacare. cision parts key to “gasoline company to the Wall Street Although his high-precision all of the offers for Autocam direct injection,” the fuel syswere inadequate, Spruit asked investment firm Goldman tooling could be used for tem responsible for the latest munitions systems, Kennedy Sachs, with Penske Corp. as a him to come up with a fair generation of more powerful partner. price for the company. said he prefers to pursue and more fuel-efficient autoThe new owners took on He came up with a number, products that make the world mobile and truck engines. and Spruit responded: “Would $300 million in debt and a healthier and safer place. Tooled to tolerances of less were teetering on the edge “Our view is, why would we you pay that much for it if I want to do that when we can than one-third of a human put up some of the financing?” of default when the auto hair’s width, the tiny parts are spend our time doing someKennedy, who made money industry collapsed in 2008, integral to the next generation thing else?” Kennedy said of Kennedy said. investing in real estate, came the defense business. of gasoline engines. Kennedy was able to buy up with $1.5 million in cash With 60 percent of its sales back the debt at 25 cents on and, after 30 attempts, found BUMPS IN THE ROAD going into GDI-related parts the dollar on the condition a bank that would lend him Despite its current suctoday, Autocam expects he would have control of the the rest. cesses, Autocam and Kennedy 75 percent of its sales to be company again. GOING PUBLIC in the fuel-saving category by have traveled down a someHe and his family now own After trimming Autocam’s times bumpy road over the 2015. 60 percent of the company, workforce from 200 to 50, past 25 years. “Any system in a vehicle with two institutional shareKennedy said it became profWhen Kennedy bought that helps save fuel and emisholders. Autocam Corp. in 1988, it was itable enough by 1991 to go sions, that’s our strategy,” “The company has very litpublic. Though he retained a small subsidiary of Autodie Kennedy said Wednesday in tle debt today,” Kennedy said. control of the company, the Corp. and made parts for a an interview at his office. “Though I started out as a stock offering helped him pay person who believed in leverfuel injection system devel“You’d like to feel the proddown the company’s debt. oped by Delphi Corp., its only ucts you’re manufacturing age, today I do not believe in After eight years as a pubcustomer. makes the world a better leverage.” lic company, Kennedy sold Kennedy, then Autodie’s place.” Now, Kennedy said, he 29-year-old chief financial offi- Autocam to a private equity Autocam also makes comdevotes more of his time and ponents for electrically-driven cer, had been put in charge of firm and held onto 30 percent energy to philanthropy and of the company. That move steering and braking systems, finding a buyer for Autocam. promoting educational prohelped fund the acquisition His boss, Joe Spruit, had products seeing increased grams in the community. jharger@mlive.com

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to prevent pregnancies. After losing at the U.S. Autocam Corp. President District Court level and the and CEO John Kennedy said appellate level, Kennedy is his outspoken opposition to appealing to the U.S. Supreme the Affordable Health Care Court with Catholic Vote Act, or Obamacare, is not and other groups involved based on in his case against the U.S. his politics Department of Health and as much as Human Services. his views on Kennedy said his work“social jusers are paid well and treated tice.” fairly as an extension of his Kennedy, religious beliefs. a Roman “I want to stay consistent Catholic, with the same faith that became a informs my values as a busiKennedy headliner ness person,” he said. for Obamacare opponents by Kennedy said his 600 U.S. challenging the law’s mandate employees earn an average that employers who provide of $53,000 a year and have health care coverage must health savings accounts from provide birth control pills and which they can buy birth con“morning-after” pills designed trol or contraceptives. jharger@mlive.com

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Autocam CEO: Faith drives my opposition to Obamacare

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