Published in Breaking News

Dematic reconsiders closing Grand Rapids operation

BY Thursday, April 27, 2017 05:26pm

GRAND RAPIDS — More than a year after first announcing its intentions to close its Grand Rapids manufacturing operations in late 2017, Dematic Corp. may reconsider the move.

The company, which manufactures conveyor and sortation equipment from its Grand Rapids location, has extended an invitation to UAW Local 1485 to bargain over continuing operations.

UAW Local 1485 represents Dematic’s manufacturing workers in Grand Rapids.

For its part, UAW Local 1485 has not officially responded to the company’s invitation but unofficially was “favorable” to the negotiations, Dematic President and CEO John Baysore told MiBiz.

“We need a competitive landscape,” Baysore said, noting the company’s decision would depend on labor costs and other factors. He declined to offer more detail on the specifics of the proposed negotiations.

“We hope the Union will work with us to maintain Grand Rapids manufacturing jobs,” Baysore said.

The parties met today for an initial conversation, Baysore said, noting Dematic expects to reach a decision on closing its Grand Rapids manufacturing operations in August 2017.

Dematic cited concerns over productivity cost issues when it first announced its intentions to discontinue manufacturing operations in Grand Rapids and move that production to Monterrey, Mexico.

Four months after the company announced its plans to move production, Dematic was acquired by Kion Group AG, an industrial truck, material handling and logistics automation equipment manufacturer based in Germany. The deal was valued at approximately $2.1 billion.

“We continue to grow and hence our capacity requirements have changed,” Baysore said of the transaction and its impact on the decision to retain manufacturing operations in Grand Rapids.

Baysore was recently brought on to lead Dematic as part of a larger executive-level shake up.

The UAW Local 1845 did not respond to a request for comment.

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