Lansing State Journal from Lansing, Michigan on April 14, 1991 · Page 27
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Lansing State Journal from Lansing, Michigan · Page 27

Lansing, Michigan
Issue Date:
Sunday, April 14, 1991
Page 27
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Lansing State Journal Sunday, April 14, 1991 nn ES250 Ml Associated Press ; ;; I EISENACH, Germany The name, the design and the engineering were all from another era, which is why the last Wartburg rolled off the assembly line last week. ; ' ; . . I The 1,836,695th Wartburg - a basic boxy two-door automobile painted a glistening cherry red chugged out of a plant building while eastern German workers sobbed in sorrow and disbelief. "My work, my work, that was my work!" shouted an almost hysterical young man. He rested his head against a steal beam and cried. About 1,500 people crowded into the final assembly building at the Japanese traders look north By ELAINE KURTENBACH Associated Press NIIGATA, Japan Japanese businessmen who trade with the Soviets view their vast neighbor to the north as one of the last frontiers of economic growth. Many in this northern port city already have found profitable niches shipping equipment and cars to the Soviet Union or invest-ing in fishery and tourism ventures. They say major opportunities will not exist until the two nations resolve a dispute over a few small islands lying between them. "There is one definite truth: The Soviet market is the greatest market left for Japan and neighboring countries," said Hidetoshi Kame-zaki of Mitsubishi Corp., deputy general manager of its Soviet and Eastern Europe team. Kamezaki and many other traders say they hope Mikhail Gorbachev's visit to Japan this week will fielp activate projects that have been stalled since the 1970s. Gorbachev has been quoted favoring creation of an economic development zone around the Japan Sea, which is ringed by Japan, China, the Soviet Union and the Korean peninsula. 7 Businessmen and bureaucrats in Niigata and other Japan Sea ports share that goal. The Japanese have been eyeing the Soviet Far East's fish, forests, oil and other natural resources for decades. Plans to exploit oil and natural gas deposits on Sakhalin Island, initiated in the early 1970s, are stalled because the oil can be refined only far away in the western Soviet Union, an official at the C. Itoh and Co. trading house said. Trade with the Soviet Union has remained at about 1 percent of Japan's total. In 1990, trade totaled $5.91 billion imports worth $3.35 billion and exports valued at $2.56 billion, according to government figures. Most of the trade is barter Soviet coal, timber, marine products and metals for chemicals, equipment and electric appliances. to Flint-made lint roller in movies Associated Press FLINT It seems Helmac lint rollers are better recognized in Hollywood than in their hometown of Flint. In the movie "Accidental Tourist," William Hurt's character thought enough of a Helmac lint roller to include one in his suitcase when packing for a trip. "We tend to get a lot of exposure from Hollywood," said Helmac President Douglas Taekens. The otherwise low-profile Helmac Products Corp. is tucked away in a small industrial park on Flint's east side. For nearly 36 years the company has gone about its business of assembling and packaging lint rollers. In the 1960s Helmac expanded nationally. By the middle of the decade, more than 30 copycat competitors had sprung up, but the McKays solidified their place in the market by investing in network TV and radio advertising. In 1971 the company moved to its current manufacturing plant in Flint. About the same time, K-Tel started marketing its Miracle Brush, from Japan, significantly cutting into Helmac's lint roller business. Helmac employs about 75 people at its Flint plant, where employees assemble and package the brushes. Taekens declined to reveal the company's annual sales but said they're "eight-figure." sprawling red-brick factory to watch the formal collapse of a company that cranked out cars under Hindenburg, Hitler and Honecker. Founded in 1898, the company that once made sleek sports cars spent its final decades building clunky, utilitarian vehicles mandated by East Germany's Communist rulers. When Germany united, Wartburg found it .could not compete. About 4,700 people lost their jobs immediately. Another 1,300 workers will stay on for the time being, many of them building replacement parts for the tens of thousands of Wartburgs still plying the former nation's cobblestone streets. But all is not completely lost in this gritty car town of 50,000 in the hilly southwestern corner of the former nation and just 20 miles from the old West German border. In February, on the outskirts of town, General Motors Corp began building the biggest plant of its profitable European subsidiary, Opel. Sometime next year, Opel will begin making subcompact Ka-detts, one of the hottest selling cars on the continent. For some, this transition is the way it should be for beleaguered eastern Germany a passing of the baton from one way of life to another. For others, the new plant will be a place where other people work. The Opel plant will employ 2,600 workers, about half the number at the Wartburg facility, although the support industries that traditionally pop up around auto plants will create many more jobs. It is still undecided how many Wartburg workers will get jobs at the plant ' The shutdown of Wartburg is almost a textbook example of why so many of east Germany's enterprises are collapsing now that they are no longer state-run. Due to overstaffing and inefficiency, it cost the company 15,000 marks about $9,000 to make a car that only sells for 7,000 marks, or about $4,200. The company has lost $120 million since German unification six months ago. ThelUendmPunuuOfPiijectkm. M J IS' per months 24 months with option tof" purchase or walk awayl'-s'f 24 mom ctoaad m3 Imm on ES 290. 2M par month pk tax, two. Rem Im and capital reduction 2,600M cash or trad In Mock unit only. Cat tot oaurix. Lexus Is Coming To Lansing To arrange for your exhilarating test drive of the ES 250 or LS 400 on Tuesday, April 16 or Wednesday, April 1? phone Dave Zaugh at 1-800-552-2339 ' HHRVEY LEXUS v. Of GRHnD RHPIDSv 2550 28th St. S.E., Grand Rapids, Michigan! M NOT AKES SENSE ST MONEY I - aaaaaaaaBaBBaaaBBaBBBNBBaaaaaaaaaaBaaaaaaaaaaBBBBBBajg ' 44 v ' ' ' ''''?ts&ss.Mv's& " y '''''''' ' '''''' " " ' pilMpPiiiiiiiiiiiiii IliiSiliiillHl ilipiiiliil WWM Ipipllpiiiiiiliil 'M4ymm::'m. llRiiHiiiBfcifciiHliiii wtomm The people who do business on Wall Street manage their money every day to get the So what to live and work Tom . -11 nignesi: return possiDie. about those of us who happen on Main Street? 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