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GRAND RAPIDS — West Michigan manufacturers should continue to expect lower commodity prices into 2016.

There’s a saying that good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment. If that’s the case, it appears that Volkswagen is on its way to a whole lot of edifying experiences as a result of its apparently deliberate use of software to manipulate emissions test outcomes for its diesel engines in the U.S.

An expertise in lightweight components led Holland-based BuhlerPrince Inc. to a unique customer outside of the automotive industry. The manufacturer of large aluminum die casting machines recently partnered with Wisconsin-based Mercury Marine to produce a 4,500-ton casting machine that the marine propulsion company will use to increase the production volume of its sterndrive engines and access the growing market for large-scale automotive castings.

Amid currency fluctuations and general uncertainty stemming from international markets, West Michigan office furniture manufacturers continue to experience steady growth on their home turf in North America.

Office furniture dealerships must innovate their business models to adjust to a slow-growing, mature industry and shifting customer preferences. These days, fresh faces are spearheading those changes as executives who’ve helmed those dealerships for years start to approach retirement age.

Companies who get their products produced in Michigan only use a portion of the state’s highly skilled advanced manufacturing resources.

West Michigan engineering and design firms have embraced the mentality that “it takes a village” when it comes to innovating and producing new products.

While the Grand Rapids-based manufacturer of automation equipment has worked with automotive customers in the past, its new “multi-million” dollar project with Dicastal North America Inc. marks a significant step away from the company’s traditional customers in warehouse distribution and cold storage, said CEO Tom Tobin.

West Michigan automotive suppliers have started to adapt as parts of the North American supply chain move to new southern geographies.

A decade after shifting industry patterns and a global recession decimated the U.S. tool and die industry, one German entrepreneur believes current conditions in the automotive sector prove there’s now a need for more tooling capacity in West Michigan.

Between the downward pressure on prices and the general upward direction of costs, it can be tough for automotive suppliers to develop a budget, let alone adhere to one. Difficult choices are made every year about how and where to allocate financial resources to meet production obligations, prepare for the future and make a reasonable return on the effort.

While the office furniture industry continued to post strong shipment growth during the second quarter of 2015, industry forecasts show signs of the sector plateauing by the end of the year.

A startup manufacturer plans to capitalize on the growing market for flavored and gluten-free beers with a new product that offers brewers an alternative to using malted grain. Treeborn Inc. intends to supply chestnut chips — used either as a replacement for malted grain or added to the beer as a flavoring ingredient — to the growing number of craft breweries opening across the country.

GRAND RAPIDS — Backed by a new joint venture with a Chinese supplier, one West Michigan belting manufacturer hopes to shore up its supply chain and expand its footprint in the North American market.

Although fears over China’s stalling economy sent global stock markets reeling in late August, experts say the impact to West Michigan’s manufacturers will be complex — and not necessarily all negative.

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