Jessica Young

Jessica Young

Staff Writer, covers manufacturing and agribusiness 
Twitter: @JessAyYo 
 

Helix Steel hopes to find a silver lining in what’s become a growing infrastructure crisis in the state of Michigan. 

“Please see attached.” That’s the email employees at Grand Rapids-based Kindel Furniture Co. Inc. received from a company vice president in late April. Within a few minutes, two people had tried to open the included attachment and replied back to the apparent sender that they were having trouble.

GRAND RAPIDS — Nearly every guest who spends the night at a hotel room in downtown Grand Rapids sleeps on the same mattress. 

Sunday, 07 July 2019 19:00

Soggy fields hamper Michigan farmers

Time has run out for about 10 percent of crops in the state, as Michigan farmers face delays related to one of the wettest spring seasons on record. 

Despite slowing national economic growth, U.S. demand for office space continues to rise above forecasts. 

SHELBY — When Grand Haven-based JSJ Corp. decided last year to get out of the contract furniture business, Silver Street Inc. saw an opportunity to bolster its product offerings.

Outdoor workspaces could be a solution to rising real estate costs and the next frontier of wellness in the workplace, experts say.

With new vehicle prices continuing to rise, a new report shows an abundance of lightly-used SUVs and trucks could push more shoppers into the pre-owned market in 2019.

MARNE – Metal fabricator DeWys Manufacturing Inc. will invest nearly $7 million over three years in a 30,000-square-foot expansion to its existing facility in Wright Township.

It’s been 150 years since the “golden spike” joined the Central Pacific Railroad and Union Pacific Railroad and drastically increased the speed of transcontinental travel. 

SOUTH HAVEN — HTS Direct LLC, the North American division of a family-owned hydraulic equipment supplier, has relocated its operations to South Haven from the Grand Rapids suburb of Wyoming.

Since Bill Pink became the tenth president of Grand Rapids Community College two years ago, he has become a leading voice for the state’s network of 28 community colleges.

MACKINAC ISLAND — Education reform took center stage at this year’s Mackinac Policy Conference, the annual gathering of the top business and government leaders in Michigan organized by the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce.

In response to employers’ calls for action, colleges and universities throughout the state are making a major shift in their workforce training programs. Michigan State University and Western Michigan University, two of the state’s largest public universities, are responding to demands from business and industry leaders by collaborating with community colleges to add more accessible, job-focused credentialing programs to their curriculums.

GRAND RAPIDS — Velocity USA Inc., a Grand Rapids-based bicycle parts manufacturer, uses a small, passionate staff to produce incredibly durable and performance-oriented equipment for the world’s toughest riders. Matt Ruiter, general manager of Velocity, has been working for the company since he started “just packing boxes” in the warehouse 14 years ago.

The challenges confronting Michigan’s tool, die and mold makers are deeply rooted. The state hosts more than twice as many tool and die workers compared to any other state, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As the undisputed leader of the industry, Michigan also suffers the greatest consequences of its uncertainty.

While tool and die shop owners are hunkering down and tightening their belts in anticipation of a decrease in available work, some small- to mid-sized operations in West Michigan have already been forced to close their doors.

Barriers to entry for advanced manufacturing continue to come down as automation becomes a more viable option — even for job shops — through what’s becoming known as modular manufacturing. Vickers Engineering Inc., a Tier 1 and Tier 2 supplier based in New Troy, Mich., has become a breakthrough story in the automation industry, growing from approximately $10 million in revenue in 2010 to a projected $60 million in 2019.

At Southfield-based Harbour Results Inc., Laurie Harbour leads a company of analysts and consultants who use data and experience to help small- to medium-sized manufacturers develop strategies to improve their operations, reduce risks and optimize business.

According to Nielsen data supplied by the United States Association of Cider Makers, the cider beverage category continues to expand, with off-premise sales up 9.4 percent in the third quarter of 2018 versus the prior year. Customers also are buying local: Regional cider sales are growing four times as fast as national cider brands.

C.N.C. Products LLC, a Southwest Michigan sheet metal fabricator, has been acquired by Indiana-based private equity firm Parker Holding Inc.

Renishaw Metrology Fixturing Solutions LLC of Grand Haven plans to expand in a move north into a new 52,000-square-foot facility in Norton Shores.

Ensign Equipment Inc., a bulk-material handling and storage systems producer based in Holland, Mich., has been acquired by Muskegon-based Excalibur Co. LLC.

Global direct-selling giant Amway Corp. has started another round of cuts to its workforce, the company confirmed to MiBiz.

GRAND RAPIDS — Craft beer enthusiasts are a spirited bunch who want to discover and follow breweries and brands. This has created an environment of constant sampling at the hundreds of tasting rooms and beer festivals across the country — and a big haul for brewers who are regularly on the road.

Although Michigan has earned a spot among the nation’s top producers of hops after a growth spurt in the last five years, 2018 served as a moment of reckoning for the state’s growers, whose overall acreage declined. The state remains the fourth-largest cultivator of hops, although still lags well behind the Pacific Northwest region of the U.S., where almost 96 percent of the nearly 58,000 acres of hops are grown in the country.

Michigan is “a natural fit” for industrial hemp production, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Thursday as the state launched an industrial hemp pilot program for the 2019 planting season. The new program allows for the growth, cultivation and marketing of Michigan grown industrial hemp.

A Decatur couple has pleaded guilty in federal court to multi-million dollar fraud charges involving their operation of one of Southwest Michigan’s largest corporate farms.

Two Ottawa County manufacturers announced major growth projects this week that are expected to generate $25 million in private investment and create more than new 140 jobs.

Robotics and additive manufacturing markets have entered into a new phase of growth, ripened by an era in which maintaining the status quo is no longer viable for manufacturers who struggle to secure quality labor. That’s because robotic systems are enabling manufacturers to deliver higher quality parts and maximize throughput, said Mark Ermatinger, vice president of sales at Zeeland-based Industrial Control Service Inc., who does not see the “rise” of robots stopping anytime soon.