FARMINGTON HILLS, MI – Business is booming at Panasonic Automotive, leading its top executive in North America to predict a 50% jump in revenue this year for the multimedia and audio supplier.

“This will be a record year for us, revenue-wise,” says Tom Gebhardt, president of Atlanta-based Panasonic Automotive Systems.

“It will be the single-largest year-over-year revenue growth we’ve ever had,” he tells WardsAuto at an event here to open its new, bigger facility.

Panasonic Automotive, like many auto suppliers, has been riding the U.S. auto industry’s comeback from the recession and 2009 bankruptcies at General Motors and Chrysler.

It also enjoys the enviable position of supplying technologies in hot demand, as auto makers seek to differentiate their cars and trucks from the competition with entertaining interiors.

As a unit of Japanese consumer electronics giant Panasonic, a maker of items such as high-definition televisions and digital cameras, the supplier also boasts a connection with everyday consumers its rivals envy and auto makers desire.

As a business unit, Panasonic Automotive’s growth “far exceeds” the industry, Gebhardt says.

“There is no hole in our portfolio, every (OEM) brand is represented,” he adds. “All the major manufactures are major customers.”

To meet demand, Panasonic Automotive will increase employment 20% in the coming year, adding positions at the new location here, its Atlanta regional headquarters and a recently added research and development property in Cupertino, CA, just down the street from computing giant Apple.

The 91,000-sq.-ft. (8,454-sq.-m) Farmington Hills location serves auto makers exclusively, counting GM, Ford, Chrysler, Toyota and Nissan as its largest customers.

Gebhardt expects Panasonic Automotive to add 60 people at the site to fill a variety of management, engineering, marketing, supply-chain management and human-resources functions.

The supplier had outgrown its previous location in metropolitan Detroit, Gebhardt says. The new location not only provides much-needed space, but also brings all of Panasonic Automotive’s talent together under one roof for closer collaboration, he says.

The hunt for fresh talent is on, too, Gebhardt tells WardsAuto. The supplier has been hiring contract software engineers to fill a growing piece of its business, but needs electronics professionals as well, and the market is historically tight.

“Tighter than we’ve seen in the last five years,” he says. “Electronics and audio narrows the scope of our recruiting, but we’re very active. It is a tough market.”

Panasonic Automotive employs about 2,700 people in North America, with roughly 600 in the U.S. and most others in Mexico.

jamend@wardsauto.com