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Manufacturing (673)

SOUTH HAVEN — A company that once eschewed becoming a manufacturer now finds itself in the middle of an expansion project to grow its in-house production capabilities and capacity. 

South Haven-based Riveer Environmental sells products that wind up in all corners of the world and help customers keep equipment clean. Wherever the U.S. military goes with its heavy equipment or aircraft, Riveer's products are likely to follow.

Peek behind the PE curtain

Written by | Sunday, 10 June 2012 18:29 |

At IRN Inc., we recently did a project for a private equity firm on the East Coast that was considering the acquisition of an automotive supplier in northern Indiana, a company similar to the many small and medium-sized manufacturers that grace West Michigan.

GRAND RAPIDS — A phoenix-like recovery in the so-called Rust Belt manufacturing sector has created an unprecedented demand for industrial talent in West Michigan.

Higher education, which is trying to do more with less funding, is doing its best to help graduate well-trained engineers, but even in the depths of the recession, educators say they couldn't keep up.

KALAMAZOO — The commercialization of a new manufacturing innovation resulting from years of research at Western Michigan University has the potential to save hundreds of thousands of dollars per year for companies across the globe.

Dr. John Patten, director of the WMU Manufacturing Research Center, and Dr. Deepak Ravindra, a senior research associate, are the developers behind a new Micro-LAM (Laser Assisted Machining) process, which uses high pressure generated by diamond cutting tools with an intense and focused laser to cut hard, brittle objects such as glass, ceramics, semiconductors and other materials.

A joint venture partnership that stretches from Middleville to Holland and Zeeland is happening because of the networking formed on Grand Rapids' Medical Mile.

It is the classic case of one company, LumenFlow Corp. in Middleville, having a great idea and finding a partner, Venntis Technology LLC in Holland, that could make it happen.

They were brought together by a third party organization that is all about helping move new ideas to market: the West Michigan Science and Technology Initiative at Grand Valley State University (WMSTI) and the West Michigan Medical Device Consortium.

A consortium of companies including casual footwear maker Wolverine World Wide Inc. on May 1 announced plans to acquire Collective Brands Inc. for nearly $2.0 billion, including the assumption of debt.

After more than 40 years of marriage, Eileen Kanaar knows what it takes to get her husband, Greg, to listen. But now that she's majority owner of their family-owned business, she's also learning what it's like to be his boss.

After a tumultuous decade, manufacturers are again helping drive Michigan’s economy, rather than dragging it into the abyss as the sector did during the recession.

Sustainably successful

Written by | Friday, 27 April 2012 14:16 |

Despite the deep impact of the recession on the office furniture industry, newcomer izzy+ stayed true to its principles around sustainability and design-fueled innovation. Founder Chuck Saylor discusses how the company managed through the turmoil after wrapping up a sizable acquisition and how the industry remains committed to driving sustainability in products, suppliers and raw materials.

Manufacturing executives like Jim Zawacki at Grand Rapids Spring & Stamping Inc. both relish and loathe the thought of an onslaught of business coming back to the United States from foreign countries.

MarketLab sparks innovation

Written by | Tuesday, 17 April 2012 10:03 |

CALEDONIA — The medical device industry could be one of West Michigan’s most under-appreciated sectors, at least if you ask Tom Howing, the new product development manager at MarketLab Inc.

While still considered an exotic material in the automotive industry, carbon fiber could become more commonplace as its cost comes down — and as automakers try to shave weight from their vehicles to meet stricter fuel standards.

The automotive industry continues to experience positive results as consumers become increasingly comfortable with the idea of shelling out hard-earned dollars for a new vehicle again. Industry observers cheered when February sales exceeded expectations and came in at the highest annualized rate in four years, up 16 percent over last year.

WEST MICHIGAN — The Ann Arbor-based Clean Energy Coalition wants Michigan to be prepared for more electric vehicles on the road.

Cascade’s Xtreme RFID embraces tech

Written by | Friday, 06 April 2012 09:14 |

A local manufacturer wants to harness the power of information and technology to provide customers with data they can use to run their operations — or to drive behavioral changes.

The good news is that the West Michigan manufacturing sector is definitely rebounding. Demand is up. The new challenge, as we have discussed in the first two stories in this series, is that the supply of skilled workers, especially engineers, is down.

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