Jessica Young

Jessica Young

Staff Writer, covers manufacturing and agribusiness 
Twitter: @JessAyYo 
 

In the past decade, West Michigan has evolved as a hub for automation alongside — and perhaps powered by — JR Automation Technologies LLC. 

LUDINGTON — Through decades of growth by acquisitions around the world, foam products manufacturer FloraCraft Corp. remains dedicated to keeping jobs and growth in its home community. 

ADAC Automotive, a Grand Rapids-based Tier 1 automotive supplier, is working toward a new strategy that will bring supplier-initiated technological advances into the sector. 

The ongoing Industry 4.0 revolution has the potential to transform how companies organize, operate and profit. At the same time, manufacturers are struggling to pinpoint and extract value from this new ability to gather seemingly limitless amounts of data.

West Michigan’s farmers will be wading through the confluence of negatives brought on last year ranging from extreme weather, volatile commodity prices and trade wars well into 2020. 

As concerns over privacy and misinformation mount, federal and state officials are preparing for the 2020 Census by using nonprofits to collect an accurate count of the nation’s residents. 

Monday, 13 January 2020 13:39

GRCC becomes free for Grand Rapids students

Students who attend high school in Grand Rapids will soon be able to continue their education for free at Grand Rapids Community College.

WYOMING — Precise CNC Routing Inc., a family-owned and operated manufacturer based in Wyoming, Mich., has been acquired by local investors.

GRAND RAPIDS — Heartside Ministry and Mel Trotter Ministries, two nonprofits with missions concerning housing and homelessness, formally merged as of Jan. 1. 

Even as the state and national economy continues to eke out growth, manufacturers expect to reduce their capital spending in 2020.

Locally owned and operated businesses are a unique asset to West Michigan’s economy, but that dynamic is changing as more owners opt to sell to private equity firms that have increasingly targeted the region for deals. 

The two largest office furniture companies in West Michigan posted mixed results in their most recent quarters. 

If the long-promised economic downturn is on the horizon, manufacturers will be the first to feel it in 2020. That’s according to economists and industry experts who say the U.S. economy has become virtually split as it’s powered by confident consumers but weakened by a cautious business sector that is reducing investments and bracing for a contraction.

The U.S. manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index from the Institute for Supply Management hit new lows in the past few months — a leading indicator that manufacturers must change their tactics in the coming year, said Bob Roth of RoMan Manufacturing Inc. Roth represents the second generation of leadership at RoMan and serves as a member of the board of directors and vice president of the American Welding Society.

News that the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement appears to be headed toward ratification comes as a positive for farmers across the country and especially in Michigan. 

Dairy producers are struggling to make ends meet, and many dairy farmers have lost money for months or even several years straight. Jem-Lot Dairy’s Stephanie Schafer, who is also a district director with the Michigan Farm Bureau, said the situation is largely the result of low milk prices. Her farm keeps 300 dairy cows in Clinton County. 

Egg producer Herbruck Poultry Ranch Inc. will pay $93,000 to settle a disability harassment lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). 

Two months after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued an unprecedented number of line-item vetoes to the state Legislature’s budget plan, $37.3 million for statewide workforce development programs remains unfunded. 

The Michigan Manufacturing and Technology Association (MMTA) launched last month to help the state’s smallest manufacturers become more competitive and prosperous. 

For every dollar that Americans spent on yesterday’s Thanksgiving dinner meals, growers and ranchers received just 12.1 cents — even less than their average slice of the pie throughout the year.

The collective outlook among automotive suppliers is moving deep into negative territory as trade tensions, declining volumes and weakness in the U.S. economy weigh on the minds of manufacturers. 

At a state-of-the-art machine tool laboratory in downtown Grand Rapids, a group of non-technical sales professionals learns about carbide, a compound made from carbon and metal, as well as takes in lessons about radial chip thinning, blueprinting and how tool cutting works.

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.