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Jessica Young

Jessica Young

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.

Sunday, 27 October 2019 09:02

Q&A: J.T. Weis CEO, Abcor Industries LLC

Most of the employees at Abcor Industries LLC, a Holland-based manufacturer of powder-coated wood products, are convicted felons. J.T. Weis, the company’s CEO and owner since 2012, said the employment of ex-offenders is part of Abcor’s triple bottom line business strategy.

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

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.”

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. 

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.

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. 

GRAND RAPIDS — TG Manufacturing LLC, a fully-integrated metals manufacturing company, acquired Turnkey Fabrication LLC, an integrated fabrication operation with laser, CNC brake press, machining, assembly and welding process capability.

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

Sunday, 18 August 2019 18:35

The autonomous promise

Self-driving shuttles may be traveling through downtown Grand Rapids these days, but automakers say broad acceptance for autonomous, connected, electric and shared vehicles will take more patience. 

Uncertainties related to trade policies continue to plague the automotive industry, which has closely linked production operations in Canada, Mexico and overseas.

From rubber horseshoes to roll-covers for paper, metal and other industries, Vail Rubber Works Inc. has been steadily serving supply chains in West Michigan for more than a century.

HOLLAND — Automotive supplier GHSP is expanding and moving its headquarters and engineering laboratory to the Holland Technical Center, MiBiz has learned. 

A chorus of manufacturing leaders and trade organizations from Michigan are urging Congress to pass a new trade agreement with Canada and Mexico.

GRAND RAPIDS — Handbag and luggage manufacturer Public Thread developed its business strategy around the idea that one company’s waste could be another’s raw material. 

GRAND RAPIDS — BarFly Ventures LLC, the parent company that operates the HopCat craft beer bar chain, has decided to discontinue brewing operations at the downtown HopCat location, MiBiz has learned. 

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.

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