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Geneva
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GENEVA – If chrome trim becomes fashionable worldwide, SRG Global Inc. is in position to benefit.

The subsidiary of privately held Guardian Automotive Inc. has been organizing itself to serve customers globally. While this isn’t a new idea, it is a novel one in the small world of exterior trim, says Jon DeGayner, vice president-business development and strategy.

“Our competitors are different in North America and Europe,” he adds.

SRG has eight plants in North America, two in Spain, one in China and a planned facility in Poland.

Guardian last year purchased competitor Siegel-Robert Automotive Inc., which included the European operations known as Lab Radio SA.

At this week’s Geneva auto show, the combined operations announced the new SRG Global name.

“Globally, use of chrome trim is about level,” says Tom Schneider, director of marketing. “We see some designers using a matte finish, instead of brilliant and dark chrome.”

Regionally, American and Chinese customers seem to like chrome, DeGayner says, while there is little use in Brazil. The European market is split.

“You don’t see much on the Renaults, but Audi (AG) still uses chrome,” DeGayner says.

SRG supplies the chrome front grille on the Ford F-150 pickup, which even in the current economic crisis is the best-selling vehicle in North America.

Although SRG doesn’t supply chrome to the Infinitis built in Japan, it does supply the QX56 SUV built in Canton, MS, as well as other Nissan products produced in North America.

Globalization is a powerful tool for selling to the auto industry, DeGayner says, but it is not the only trail SRG is following.

The supplier is moving into commercial vehicles and painted-trim pieces. Lab Radio is a leader in wheel covers, and that technology could migrate to North America and China.

Non-automotive business also is important. SRG supplies chromed plastic to companies such as Whirlpool Corp. and is negotiating with Kohler Co. and Delta Faucet Co. for chromed faucets and other plumbing parts.

SRG, headquartered in Warren, MI, has a total of 4,000 employees in Europe, North America, Japan and China.