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Nearly every industry has felt the disruptive power of technology, and it turns out that the automotive sector is no exception. The current period of tech-fueled disruption could cause chaos — and opportunity — for the automakers, traditional suppliers and their new technology partners from Silicon Valley.

The office furniture held steady in a slow-growth mode as 2014 began, according to quarterly survey results. The January survey Michael A. Dunlap & Associates registered an activity index of 54.36, virtually unchanged from the 54.35 three months earlier and nearly matching the average of 54.31 since the trends survey began in August 2004.

The recent wave of M&A activity among larger West Michigan automotive suppliers could continue this year as capital becomes more available and as manufacturers continue to focus on growth strategies.

Marrone Bio Innovations Inc., a Davis, Calif.-based maker of biopesticides, started production at a new 11,400-square-foot manufacturing facility in Bangor in late December with plans to gradually ramp up capacity over the next one or two years.

Johnson Controls Inc. has found a buyer for the remaining portion of its electronics business, some 10 months after the automotive supplier first hinted it wanted to sell the division.

As he prepares to depart after serving 20 years as Steelcase Inc.’s chief executive, Jim Hackett is laying the groundwork for his next career stop.

A West Michigan-based supplier of electronic components hopes to further diversify its business by seeking more contracts in the medical device sector.

Tepid sales of electric vehicles (EVs) has one West Michigan advanced battery manufacturer acknowledging that it can’t live up to its initial growth projections.

Both Steelcase Inc. and Herman Miller Inc. expect to maintain their current momentum as they progress through the first part of this year.

Manufacturers take the good with the bad

Written by | Sunday, 05 January 2014 20:44 |

While the state of Michigan owes nearly its entire recovery to a resurgence in manufacturing, that’s not been the case in the Grand Rapids area, according to economist George Erickcek.

In an era when manufacturing companies struggle to find engineering talent, one state-supported program offers a partial solution by putting the skills of retired professionals to work.

The automotive industry is in very good shape as we come to the end of 2013 and look ahead to 2014. Production of light vehicles in North America this past year was a little stronger than we anticipated, with just over 16 million cars, light trucks, and sport utility vehicles assembled as compared to our projection of 15.7 million.

Steelcase, Herman Miller report higher sales

Written by | Wednesday, 18 December 2013 16:59 |

Grand Rapids-based Steelcase Inc. said sales for the three-month period that ended Nov. 22 grew 7.9 percent to $784.4 million. Led by a double-double gain in sales outside North America, the Zeeland-based Herman Miller this afternoon reported sales of $470.5 million for the second quarter of its 2014 fiscal year, up 6.5 percent from the same period a year earlier.

General Motors is heading back to ownership by regular investors outside of the U.S. government. That’s after the government announced recently that it would sell its remaining shares in the company by the end of 2013.

Amid tepid U.S. economic growth, North American shipments for office furniture makers inched up slightly in the third quarter.

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