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Trends in the West Michigan-based contract medical device manufacturing industry parallel what the automotive sector experienced two decades ago, according to a group of executives who spoke with MiBiz for a recent roundtable discussion.

Editor's Notebook: Ford Focused

Written by | Sunday, 18 January 2015 22:00 |

As thousands of international journalists packed into Detroit’s crowded Cobo Hall last week for the annual North American International Auto Show, it was clear that the industry has started to act as if it has fully emerged from the doldrums of the recession and embraced the brave new world.

In the wake of a catastrophic accident, one Kalamazoo-based manufacturer of plastic injection molds turned to its industry partners and its insurance agency for help.

Both Steelcase Inc. and Herman Miller Inc. expect the office furniture industry to remain solid in early 2015, driving continued sales growth.

Rapid growth in the aerospace industry could pose its share of challenges for West Michigan-based suppliers that are already plagued by capacity constraints.

After relying on a cushion of international business to weather the economic downturn, one West Michigan manufacturer of anodized aluminum coil has refocused its attention abroad.

Experts predict uptick in auto supplier M&A

Written by | Sunday, 07 December 2014 22:00 |

Amid an improving automotive market, suppliers with easy access to capital and more deployable cash on their balance sheets are turning to mergers and acquisitions to drive growth.

All indications point to West Michigan manufacturers continuing to struggle in the coming year to find qualified talent.

After a customer’s firearm business failed, Jenison-based Next Level Manufacturing LLC decided to use its expertise in high-end machining to spin off its own line of specialty rifles.

A commitment to technology and staying ahead of the curve has driven one family-owned West Michigan manufacturer to become one of the largest automotive suppliers in the region.

There are many situations in the automotive business that require negotiation between component suppliers and their customers.

Changing purchasing behaviors and a shift to lower-volume orders have middle-market manufacturers well-positioned to compete in an increasingly global marketplace against even the largest corporations in the office furniture industry.

Kentwood-based TerraTrike learned all too well the pitfalls a business can face when its sales projections fall short of anticipating the actual demand from consumers for its products.

A quarterly activity index for the office furniture industry in October reached its highest point in more than seven years.

While experts continue to tout wind energy as a diversification target for many West Michigan manufacturers, companies that supply the industry say they’ve faced a period of stagnant demand, especially now that a key federal incentive no longer exists.

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