Jessica Young

Jessica Young

Staff Writer, covers manufacturing and agribusiness 
Twitter: @JessAyYo 
 
Thursday, 21 November 2019 17:59

Gill reaches settlement with Benteler

GRAND RAPIDS — Tier 1 automotive supplier Gill Corp. has settled a lawsuit with Ann Arbor-based Benteler Automotive Corp. about payments Gill was demanding as it prepared to close its Bond Avenue production plant in Grand Rapids.

GRAND RAPIDS — A bombshell new lawsuit alleges that Grand Rapids-based Tier 1 automotive supplier Gill Corp. is demanding “ransom” from its customers as the metal stamper dissolves its operations. 

Innovations in polymer science have produced plastics that are lighter than aluminum and relatively durable, causing manufacturers and their customers to take a new look at how to use the materials.

Mergers and acquisitions activity among plastics manufacturers has been uneven as the supply of assets shrinks, demand grows and threats to the economy build. 

The desire to continue to grow and keep production in West Michigan despite a crippling labor shortage remains the principal driver for Byrne Electrical Specialists Inc.’s adoption of automation.

Gene Hawkins, vice president of engineering at ADAC, spoke with MiBiz about how the company is looking at R&D and where it sees the future of plastics in the automotive industry. 

CASCADE TOWNSHIP — Automotive supplier Yanfeng US Automotive Interior Systems has entered into an agreement to sell the company’s Grand Rapids-area operations to a new automotive-focused private equity firm, MiBiz has learned. 

Regardless of when the historic UAW strike against General Motors Co. ultimately ends, the disruptive effect of lost production and earnings will linger, putting further strain on an industry already flagged by slowing sales and tariff disputes with China.

ADA — Amway Corp. and parent company Alticor Inc. recently filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against an eBay Inc. seller based in Brooklyn, N.Y.  

Traditional, outdoor agriculture is profoundly dependent on climate, but high-tech indoor farms that grow premium, hyper-local produce for consumers year round may be commercially viable in the future.

On top of ongoing trade disputes and the disruptive GM strike, two statistical gauges of the U.S. manufacturing industry hit new lows, leaving economists and manufacturers preparing for a meaningful economic shift from a decade of growth. 

An emphasis on shared family values and the promise of continued investment and growth made last year’s sale of privately-owned Structural Concepts Corp. to private equity firm Mason Wells a “very friendly, reasonably smooth deal all the way along.”

The February deal for Grand Rapids-based tech firm Conway, Dierking & Hillman Inc. allows Red Level Networks LLC to expand its client list, core I.T. services and reach across the state. 

The March 2019 merger of Porter Hills Presbyterian Village Inc. in Grand Rapids and Chelsea-based United Methodist Retirement Communities Inc. brought together the strengths of two like-sized and like-minded organizations. 

Jeff Helminski, co-founder and managing partner of Auxo Investment Partners in Grand Rapids, successfully leveraged his atypical experience and path into the world of private equity in multiple deals last year. 

GRAND RAPIDS — Before Ron Pease became the CEO of Mister-E-Liquid LLC, a Grand Rapids-based manufacturer of e-liquid used in electronic cigarettes, he smoked a pack a day for 15 years. 

CENTREVILLE — As consumer demographics shift and the economy slows, smaller products have become a big consideration for recreational vehicle manufacturer Viking Products Inc. 

Two years before Craig Wassenaar stepped into the role as president and CFO of Skytron LLC, a Cascade Township-based medical device company owned by the Mehney family, the plan for his next role with the business was already well underway. 

Wednesday, 18 September 2019 14:27

UFPI acquires Pallet USA, restructures

GRAND RAPIDS — An affiliate of Universal Forest Products Inc. (NASDAQ: UFPI) has acquired Hartford, Wis.-based Pallet USA LLC, expanding Universal’s industrial product-capacity and services in the Midwest.

Tuesday, 17 September 2019 16:59

Amway cuts 47 positions, more layoffs to come

ADA — Global direct-selling giant Amway Corp. has eliminated 47 information technology positions in another round of cuts to its workforce, the company confirmed to MiBiz. 

Michigan is the most attractive state in the Midwest for new aerospace manufacturing businesses.

As the hunt for PFAS contamination has expanded into crops and livestock, it has revealed new food safety concerns related to the limited state-led testing system and lax federal standards. 

Despite a historically cold spring, a year-over-year decline in acreage and new outbreaks of pests, some local growers of hops are reporting record-breaking harvests. 

Agricultural land values have remained relatively stable throughout most regions in Michigan, even though many farmers continue to face serious headwinds. 

Saturday, 14 September 2019 07:00

New partners seek to end farmworker exploitation

Working under the hot summer sun, Ricardo Martinez and Yolanda Garrido concentrated on meeting their quota. They lost track of the hours, but bucket-by-bucket, seven days a week, they picked blueberries at a farm in Southwest Michigan. 

West Michigan businesses are responding to reports from the White House that the U.S. government is considering drastic cuts to the number of refugees who are allowed to enter the country.

GRAND RAPIDS — The assets of Grand Rapids Hydroponics Inc. were acquired by Denver-based GrowGeneration Corp., the largest chain of specialty hydroponic and organic garden centers. 

When Grand Rapids-based Multi-Automatic Tool and Supply Co. started searching for prospective acquisitions several years ago, the move came as a reaction to many of the company’s customers buying directly from small shops. 

BATTLE CREEK — Cedar Run Decoy Co. LLC aims to provide hunters with new ways to get back to the basics of waterfowling. 

ACME — After a decade of bullish outlooks, automotive suppliers need to buckle up for a period of upcoming disruptions.