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Harman moving auto HQ to Novi, add 250 workers

Harman International CEO Dinesh Paliwal said Thursday the company plans to hire an additional 250 employees as it moves to a new 188,000-square-foot automotive headquarters in Novi.

The global audio and infotainment company said it plans to consolidate its seven Oakland County offices into a single location in Novi as it aims to expand its automotive business with the Detroit Three and other automakers.

Harman, which employs about 800 workers in Oakland County, is expanding its presence in Michigan because of growing demand for its car audio, navigation and connected technology systems. The 250 additional employees will mostly be engineers.

While the company is based in Stamford, Conn. It only has about 100 employees there.

“Today marks an important milestone for us, not only in our company growth, but also in our commitment to Michigan and metro Detroit,” said Phil Eyler, senior vice president and general manager of Harman’s automotive business.

The new 16.5-acre site in Novi, expected to be complete by next fall, will include engineering labs, an audio demonstration room, an anechoic – or sound dampening – testing chamber and a pilot factory.

“It will be our automotive epicenter,” Eyler said. “We develop the high-end systems here for customers all over the world.”

Harman will be located in the Haggerty Corridor Corporate Park, a 400-acre office park developed by Northern Equities Group.

“This is a huge deal for us and a huge deal for Novi,” said Matthew Sosin, president of Northern Equities Group.

While most consumers know Harman for consumer electronics brands that include Harman Kardon, Infinity, JBL, and Mark Levinson about 75% of the company’s $5.8 billion in revenue comes from the automotive industry, Eyler said.

And, the company is betting that its automotive revenue will continue to increase. The volume of business that the company is doing with the Detroit Three has grown in recent years. The demand for increasingly complex and intuitive infotainment systems also gives Harman an opportunity to expand.

Automakers have been struggling in recent years to develop infotainment systems that can adapt over the up to 10 years that people own cars as iPhones and Smartphones evolve at a much faster pace.

Eyler said Harman is working on ways for consumers to be able to download software updates remotely to keep up with those changes.

“We are partnering with our automotive customers to eventually get to the point of over-the-air updates and literally being able to adapt your in-car entertainment system to changes in technology,” Eyler said. “That is something we are very, very actively working on…it’s going to happen very soon.”

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