KOSTAL Kontakt Systeme, Inc. manufactures and supplies connector systems for all major car manufacturers and for Tier I automotive companies inside its 80,000 square foot office in Rochester Hills, Mich. The company prides itself on manufacturing one of the most important components in any vehicle – the connector, a part critical to a vehicle’s operation.

As the world’s leading manufacturer of transmission connectors, KOSTAL’s U.S. facility runs 24/7. The production floor is lined with highly-sophisticated machinery that fashions, assembles, sorts and tests its connectors, ensuring they can withstand the severe heat and intense vibration that exist inside a vehicle engine.  

Kostal’s 14-Way Connector for a Jeep Wrangler hard top.

 “Our core competence is in connector systems in challenging environments like the engine compartment,” says Holger Lettmann, President and CEO. “But we also supply highly reliable connectors for the electrified powertrain or the vehicle interior.”

Lettmann ties some of the company’s environmental focus back to its German roots. “Germany is very pro-active when it comes to sustainability,” says Lettmann. “We approach our business in the U.S. from the same perspective and want to do what’s best for the environment.” 

The company recently joined DTE’s MIGreenPower program to help reduce its carbon footprint. MIGreenPower is a voluntary renewable energy program that enables customers to match their energy use to Michigan-made, universal scale renewable energy projects. Lettmann further extended his commitment to the program by also enrolling his personal residence for 100% clean energy. 

Joining MIGreenPower was an easy decision for Lettmann and his team. “We were excited when DTE told us about the program,” says Greg Treacy, Facility EHS Manager for KOSTAL. “We lease our building, so installing solar panels on the roof was not the best option for us. Joining MIGreenPower provided us with the ability to access more renewable energy without having to manage or install our own system.”

MIGreenPower is open to all DTE full-service electric customers. KOSTAL now joins Ford, GM, the University of Michigan and a number of other large customers who have signed on to a MIGreenPower program that will be sourced by three new wind parks that are currently under construction.

“We are excited that KOSTAL Kontakt Systeme, Inc. sees MIGreenPower as the company’s best answer for using more renewable energy,” said Brian Calka, director, Renewable Energy Solutions for DTE Energy. “Customers who join the program benefit from the economies of scale DTE can achieve with its renewable energy projects and avoid the challenges associated with installing a private system.”

Joining MIGreenPower is just one of the sustainable business practices in which KOSTAL is engaged. The company has already attained ISO-14001 certification and has an active recycling program. Treacy is proud of the limited amount of waste the company generates. “We are able to recycle most of our plastic and cardboard,” he says.  He is proud to note that the company has only one very small dumpster outside for items that can’t be recycled. “This says a lot about how much we recycle,” Treacy observes, “especially since we manufacture all of our connectors onsite.”

The company is also in the process of investigating switching its lighting to LEDs, a move that will both conserve energy and save money. “We use a lot of energy here,” Lettmann says, “it’s just the nature of our business, and we need to do it as responsibly as possible.”

Another move Lettmann is excited to introduce is the installation of new electric vehicle (EV) chargers. Taking advantage of a rebate DTE offers through its Charging Forward program, KOSTAL will soon install two EV towers with a total of four ports in its parking area. Employees who own EVs will be able to charge their cars at no cost, which could save employees as much as $250 a year.

For Lettmann, the company’s decisions regarding sustainability are based on doing what’s best for the environment and not tied to ROI. He is also keenly aware that being environmentally-conscious is an asset when it comes to retaining and recruiting talent, something that is highly competitive in the automotive manufacturing sector. “We aren’t asking ourselves if these initiatives have ROI, even though we are convinced they do,” he says. “We are making decisions to be more environmentally conscious because it is the right thing to do.”

If reducing your carbon footprint is important to you too, we invite you to check out MIGreenPower. The program might be just what you’re looking for. You can join whether you own or rent your home or office location and stay in the program if you move to another location within DTE’s service territory. Our online calculator can help you choose the level of impact that works for you. Another plus – you don’t need to install or maintain any additional equipment. Just visit dteenergy.com/migreenpower or call 855.613.4445 to enroll.