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Facing what they say is a dearth of qualified technical talent, manufacturers have been forced to get creative in developing their own internal training programs. But despite those efforts to fill the gap, companies still rely heavily on community colleges to train the next wave of workers. 

A West Michigan custom fabricator believes its partnership with a California energy company could fuel revenue growth this year and beyond.

Most automotive suppliers in West Michigan remain privately-held, meaning that information about their financial health stays tightly under wraps.

The movement of people back to urban areas and the onslaught of new transportation options has forced traditional automotive manufacturers to take notice and plan for the future.

While EV and hybrid sales continue to be a challenge in the era of sub-$2 per gallon gasoline, some automakers say the cheap gas has also forced them to re-evaluate their strategy for small sedans.

Despite a growing number of plug-in electric vehicles on display at this year’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit, industry analysts say the segment has failed to reach the “aspirational” levels many had hoped.

Automakers’ desire to quicken the pace of new vehicle launches has sent shock waves through the industry’s supply chain.

While plummeting oil prices over the last month have led to relief for consumers at the pump, the news has been mixed for West Michigan manufacturers, particularly for suppliers of the oil-and-gas industry.

As automotive production and the industry’s supply chain grows in Mexico, one mid-Michigan manufacturer of custom casters and wheels decided to engage in a foreign market for the first time in the company’s history.

After running as lean as possible in the years following the recession, West Michigan manufacturers are embracing acquisitions as a strategy to add capacity and meet customer demand. That was the case for Grand Rapids-based Mill Steel Co. when it acquired certain assets of S&S Steel Services Inc. of Anderson, Ind.

In court documents filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan earlier this month, Haworth alleges that Cypress, Calif.-based Exemplis Corp., which does business as SitOnIt Seating, “intentionally designed” its Rio task chair to resemble the Very Side chair.

Automotive component suppliers have struggled with customer demands for price reductions on existing business and in conjunction with new contracts since GM began the practice almost 20 years ago.

Over the last decade, the manufacturer and assembler of panels, benching and other office furniture systems had spread out over four different buildings. When Compatico recently faced the need to expand again, the company weighed purchasing an additional building or moving its operation to a singular, larger facility. Executives ultimately opted for the latter option.

Spurred on by increased demand for its industrial welding equipment, Wyoming-based RoMan Manufacturing Inc. needed to expand. Luckily, the company had several options at its disposal to fund that growth, according to President and CEO Bob Roth.

It looks like the stage is set for yet another year of robust light vehicle sales and production in 2016.

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