Whether the West Michigan manufacturing industry continues on an ongoing growth trend in 2019 or veers into a contraction remains uncertain. Economist Paul Isely, associate dean for undergraduate programs in the Seidman College of Business at Grand Valley State University, uses automotive, furniture, agriculture, and “amazingly nowadays” aerospace manufacturing to find the pulse of where the region’s economy is headed in the coming months and years. 

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The 2019 forecast for the automotive industry remains steady, although sales are expected to experience “a little bit of a step down” to 16.8 million units compared to an expected 17.1 million units this year, according to Mike Wall, director of automotive analysis at IHS Markit. The big cloud over the industry currently hinges on tariffs and trade deals, specifically the United States Mexico Canada Agreement. Wall expects the USMCA to get enacted in some form, even though he does expect to see “some adjustments on the margins.”

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MANISTEE — A Northern Michigan-based manufacturer of electronics and electrical assemblies has been acquired by a portfolio company of New Water Capital Partners LP of Boca Raton, Fla. 

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NEWAYGO — A West Michigan Tier I automotive supplier is investing $45 million into a 175,000-square-foot facility expansion designed to improve workflow and efficiency. 

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As the new owner of Blough Inc., Sean Larkin plans to maintain the company’s roots as a metal finisher in the middle of “farming country.”  

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A turbulent period full of major disruptions for the automotive industry has translated into business doubling for Conway MacKenzie Inc., a Birmingham, Mich.-based turnaround firm.

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ACME — After an extended period of growth, vehicle sales have started to cool at a time when industry-wide uncertainty is hampering manufacturers’ optimism.

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So far this year, West Michigan-based automotive suppliers have endured the fallout from supply chain disruptions, wrestled with rising costs related to steel and aluminum tariffs and struggled to fill open positions at their factories.

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Saturday, 09 June 2018 16:35

Q&A: Mike Wall, IHS Markit

With the automotive market performing slightly ahead of expectation for the year, IHS Markit analyst Mike Wall pinpoints trends that will keep projections positive for the rest of 2018. So far this year, Wall said news in the industry has been “interesting,” as some automakers phase out sedan nameplates to focus on trucks and crossovers, while others move “heaven and earth” to source components after a major supplier fire. In an interview with MiBiz, Wall shared his insights into the automotive industry.

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Spurred on by tax reform, a need for innovation and the current talent shortage, manufacturers increasingly have embraced automation on their shop floors.

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