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Wednesday, 08 May 2013 00:00

Knape & Vogt to shift production from Canada to Grand Rapids

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GRAND RAPIDS - Office-furniture supplier Knape & Vogt Manufacturing Co. plans to add more than 100 new jobs in West Michigan as it consolidates production from an Ontario plant to its facilities in Grand Rapids.

The move comes five months after Knape & Vogt acquired Kitchener, Ontario-based Waterloo Furniture Components, which will cease operations and close by the second half of 2014, said Peter Ross, vice president of marketing and development at Knape & Vogt. The closure will result in the loss of 230 Canadian jobs as manufacturing from the plant will be moved to Knape & Vogt’s facility on Oak Industrial Drive NE and space they lease on Eastern Avenue, Ross said. 

“We won’t probably replicate all of those jobs here, but certainly [we will add] more than 100 new jobs here in this facility,” Ross told MiBiz. “How many more than that, we’re not sure yet.”

Waterloo Furniture Components makes ball-bearing slides and components for furniture products used in the office and health care settings. Knape & Vogt bought Waterloo from Dallas-based manufacturer CompX International for $59 million in a transaction that also included a plant in Taiwan. Ross said the Taiwan plant will produce only ball bearings for drawer slides. 

The acquisition of Waterloo and the consolidation of its manufacturing and distribution operations to Grand Rapids made good business sense for the company, Ross said. He would not comment directly on whether Knape & Vogt was looking at other acquisitions.

“The acquisition brought to us some new product capabilities that we didn’t have, and it gave us access to some channels of distribution … and customers that we didn’t have,” Ross told MiBiz.

The union representing workers at the Waterloo plant believes the company may have had another impetus to close the Ontario facility. Tom Walsh, an area coordinator for the United Steelworkers in Kitchener, speculated that the move may have been based on Michigan’s passage of Right To Work legislation that makes union membership voluntary, according to a report in the Kitchener Daily Record.

Knape & Vogt’s Grand Rapids facilities are non-union. 

Ross denied that Right to Work had anything to do with the company’s decision, citing feedback from customers and the need to stay competitive as the primary motivating factors.

Knape & Vogt manufactures and distributes drawer slides, cabinet accessories and shelving and storage items for office furniture makers, distributors, dealers and hardware chains. The company, headquartered at 2700 Oak Industrial Drive NE in Grand Rapids, employs approximately 525 employees in West Michigan.

Read 79229 times Last modified on Wednesday, 08 May 2013 17:38

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