The challenges confronting Michigan’s tool, die and mold makers are deeply rooted. The state hosts more than twice as many tool and die workers compared to any other state, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As the undisputed leader of the industry, Michigan also suffers the greatest consequences of its uncertainty.

Published in Manufacturing

While tool and die shop owners are hunkering down and tightening their belts in anticipation of a decrease in available work, some small- to mid-sized operations in West Michigan have already been forced to close their doors.

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At Southfield-based Harbour Results Inc., Laurie Harbour leads a company of analysts and consultants who use data and experience to help small- to medium-sized manufacturers develop strategies to improve their operations, reduce risks and optimize business.

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With 2018 shaping up as slower than expected for the automotive supply chain, West Michigan-based tool and die makers are embracing diversification to counter the cyclical industry.

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JENISON — The changing automotive industry is forcing West Michigan manufacturer Dienetics to adjust how it does business.

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WALKER — Citing increased demand from its automotive customer base, Betz Industries Inc. wants to expand its manufacturing capabilities at its sprawling West Michigan campus.

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GRAND RAPIDS — Driven by customers’ needs to lightweight large components, Paragon Die and Engineering Co. is adding new equipment and expanding its facility in West Michigan.

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While most economists still believe in the strength of the overall economy, some West Michigan manufacturers say their business has begun to soften, indicating a slowdown could be starting to emerge.

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GRAND RAPIDS — Many West Michigan mold manufacturers are looking to get ahead of the oncoming wave of employee retirements by hiring more employees this year.

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With 177 new vehicle launches expected by 2020, tooling suppliers like Walker Tool & Die Inc. are bracing for another busy period in what’s been a string of good years for the industry.

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