Published in Economic Development

MiBiz Growth Report: April 28, 2019

BY MiBiz Staff Sunday, April 28, 2019 06:52pm

Here is the growth report for April 14, 2019. 


  • Japanese conglomerate Hitachi Ltd. plans to acquire Holland-based JR Automation Technologies LLC in a $1.42 billion deal. Hitachi and New York City-based private equity owner Crestview Partners, which acquired the company in 2015 from Grand Rapids-based Huizenga Automation Group LLC, said last week that they signed a definitive agreement for the sale. Since its sale to Crestview, JR Automation has grown dramatically from $170 million in sales and five production facilities in North America to more than $600 million in sales and 23 facilities in North America, Europe and Asia. The deal should close in the second half of 2019, subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory approvals. Based in Tokyo, Japan, Hitachi has more than 307,000 employees worldwide. In the most recent fiscal year, Hitachi reported revenues of $88.4 billion.

  • Elevator Up LLC, a Grand Rapids-based digital design agency, sold to SPARK Business Works, a part of Kalamazoo-based CMS Group of Companies. The deal gives SPARK Business Works, a developer of mobile apps, dashboards and workflow tools for clients, greater capabilities and solidifies the company’s Grand Rapids office, President and CEO Bob Armbrister said. The deal closed April 9. Terms of the transaction were undisclosed. Elevator Up founder Aaron Schaap took an advisory role with SPARK Business Works.

  • Grand Rapids-based Blackford Capital LLC has sold the first holding in its Michigan Prosperity Fund, Walker-based Custom Profile Inc. In the deal, the company’s management and employees partnered with Mosaic Capital Partners LLC to purchase all the equity in the company, Blackford Capital Managing Director Martin Stein said. Custom Profile, which also has operations in Wisconsin, will be 100-percent employee-owned via an employee stock ownership plan. Terms of the deal, which closed April 22, were not disclosed.

  • Holland-based Ensign Equipment Inc., a maker of material handling equipment for the plastics and recycling industries, was acquired by Excalibur Group, which owns Production Fabricators Inc. and Bauer Sheet Metal and Fabricating Inc., both based in Muskegon, according to a statement. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

  • New Era-based Michigan Ag Information Network LLC was acquired by Zionsville, Ind.-based Hoosier Ag Today LLC, according to a statement. The two companies operate farm radio networks in their respective states. On May 6, Hoosier Ag Today will assume program production and distribution. Programming in Michigan will continue under the Michigan Ag Information Network brand. Owner Pat Driscoll will remain as a contributor and consultant.


  • Miniature Custom Manufacturing LLC, a high-volume injection molding manufacturer, is expanding its plant in the township of Vicksburg, 15 miles south of Kalamazoo. The expansion will add 24,000 square feet to the company’s current 45,000-square-foot footprint and convert its warehouse into a second manufacturing facility. The project is expected to generate $3 million in private investment and create 37 jobs. The Michigan Economic Development Corp. is supporting the project with a $175,000 performance-based grant via the Michigan Business Development Program.

  • Hudsonville-based Royal Technologies Corp., a plastic injection molding manufacturer of furniture and automotive parts, is building a 50,000-square-foot warehouse and a 270,000-square-foot manufacturing facility adjacent to its existing plant on Quincy Street. The project is expected to cost $23 million and create 66 new jobs.

  • Hudsonville-based MFP Automation Engineering Inc., a manufacturer and distributor of automation products, has begun work on a 30,000-square-foot building adjacent to its existing facility that will allow expansion in both operations and production. This project is expected to create 75 jobs within two years of completion.

  • Industrial technology and electrical services firm Feyen Zylstra LLC plans to invest $5.3 million in a new facility in Walker. The company is purchasing and renovating the 20,000-square-foot building at 3085 Walkent Dr. NW to house its industrial tech employees, including automation engineers, software developers, coders and programmers. The firm estimates 100 new jobs will be created from the new location.

Venture capital

  • Grand Rapids-based Genesis Innovation Group LLC and its affiliated venture capital funds — Cultivate(MD) Capital Fund I and Cultivate(MD) Capital Fund II LP — invested in HAPPE Spine LLC, a Grand Rapids-based startup developing and commercializing a material for orthopedic implants. The investment is the second the firms made in HAPPE Spine. An announcement about the investment did not state the amount, although records HAPPE Spine filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission indicated it had raised $600,000 in an equity offering that involved 11 investors. The firm uses a material technology developed by Ryan Roeder and researchers at the University of Notre Dame that allows for the full or partial construction of artificial bone applications.

  • A venture capital fund led by women investors to back women-owned startups has raised $4.5 million so far toward a $20 million goal. Belle Michigan Impact Fund LP has attracted 57 investors to date, including its first institutional investor in Toronto-based Canadian Imperial Bank Corp. Since forming last summer, the fund has invested about $1.4 million in seven startups, all based in Michigan.
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