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Manufacturing (660)

Stroll through the beer aisle at some West Michigan grocery supercenters and you might notice a bit of gold tucked between the red, white and blue cases of Budweiser and MillerCoors brands. 

The meteoric rise of Michigan’s craft brewing industry has spawned the creation of hundreds of new companies in communities all over the state. 

The craft brewing industry continues to evolve at a rapid pace. As breweries strive to stay relevant in the eyes of thirsty customers, they also need to find ways to keep their distributor and retail partners happy. Companies need to balance all those demands and more if they plan to grow beyond the taproom model, which still provides their most lucrative sales.

GRAND RAPIDS — In its first five years, The Mitten Brewing Co. mostly brewed beer to serve in its Grand Rapids pub and a satellite taproom in Northport on the Leelanau Peninsula. 

With the craft brewing industry continuing to grow — albeit slower than just a few years ago — many West Michiganbased equipment suppliers are honing their product niches to get ahead of any future market corrections.

Manufacturers in the automotive supply chain are scooping up acquisitions in emerging technologies to break into new markets before their competition. By moving into alternative powertrains, connected car technologies, artificial intelligence and predictive analytics, suppliers want to position themselves to get ahead of disruptions as the industry shifts to the “car of the future,” according to Jeff Zaleski, U.S. automotive deals leader at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLC, a global consulting firm.

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.

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.

Emerging drone technology is helping reduce costs and save time for a range of West Michigan businesses, from farmers to construction companies and beyond. 

With the automotive industry headed for a period of plateauing sales and a potential slowdown, manufacturers could find opportunities to diversify by supplying Michigan’s aerospace sector.

WAYLAND — With the acquisition of a West Michigan aerospace manufacturer, Tribus Aerospace aims to become a regional consolidator in the highly fragmented industry across the Midwest.

ROCKFORD — An employee-owned Minnesota company has acquired Integrated Packaging LLC, an automation manufacturer based in Rockford.

Black Swamp Percussion LLC started out like many musical instrument manufacturers tend to, by “rolling out of hobby mode into a little bit of a business.”

ROCKFORD — Getting West Michigan manufacturers to embrace cutting-edge technology can be “a tough nut to crack.”

For West Michigan manufacturers who are struggling both to find workers and to keep up with order volumes, the recent federal tax reform offers some welcome news.

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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