Manufacturing

MUSKEGON — Houston-based oil and gas industry supplier Cameron International Corp. is closing its Muskegon facility, according to a notice filed with the state. 

LUDINGTON — Through decades of growth by acquisitions around the world, foam products manufacturer FloraCraft Corp. remains dedicated to keeping jobs and growth in its home community. 

The ongoing Industry 4.0 revolution has the potential to transform how companies organize, operate and profit. At the same time, manufacturers are struggling to pinpoint and extract value from this new ability to gather seemingly limitless amounts of data.

In the past decade, West Michigan has evolved as a hub for automation alongside — and perhaps powered by — JR Automation Technologies LLC. 

ADAC Automotive, a Grand Rapids-based Tier 1 automotive supplier, is working toward a new strategy that will bring supplier-initiated technological advances into the sector. 

GRAND RAPIDS — Furniture manufacturer Knoll Inc. will close its manufacturing facility in Grand Rapids, resulting in layoffs of approximately 180 hourly and 30 salaried employees.

HOLLAND TWP. — Allegan-based Perrigo Co. plc is investing $13.6 million to expand its existing location in Holland Township.

GRAND RAPIDS — Pallet management firm Kamps Inc. has sold a majority interest to Los Angeles, Calif.-based private equity firm Freeman Spogli & Co.

WYOMING — Precise CNC Routing Inc., a family-owned and operated manufacturer based in Wyoming, Mich., has been acquired by local investors.

WYOMING — The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Jasper Weller LLC, which does business as Weller Truck Parts and Weller Reman, for three safety violations it alleges could have led to serious injury.  

LANSING — Food and animal safety products manufacturer Neogen Corp. has acquired a longtime distributor in South America. 

Even as the state and national economy continues to eke out growth, manufacturers expect to reduce their capital spending in 2020.

HOLLAND — JR Automation Technologies LLC is now part of Tokyo-based Hitachi Ltd. after the completion of a $1.42 billion deal for the West Michigan-based custom automation systems provider. 

BRIDGMAN — Maintenance contractor Aptim Services LLC is planning layoffs after losing a contract to service the Donald C. Cook Nuclear Plant in Southwest Michigan. 

The U.S. manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index from the Institute for Supply Management hit new lows in the past few months — a leading indicator that manufacturers must change their tactics in the coming year, said Bob Roth of RoMan Manufacturing Inc. Roth represents the second generation of leadership at RoMan and serves as a member of the board of directors and vice president of the American Welding Society.

Kalamazoo-based Keystone Solutions Group has experienced strong growth in recent years that President Jim Medsker expects to continue in 2020. The company is a product designer for the medical device, aerospace and automotive industries, and also offers contract manufacturing for medical devices. Keystone currently employs 58 people in Oshtemo Township and is targeting $15 million to $20 million in revenue for 2020, coming off a year of 50 percent year-over-year revenue growth. 

If the long-promised economic downturn is on the horizon, manufacturers will be the first to feel it in 2020. That’s according to economists and industry experts who say the U.S. economy has become virtually split as it’s powered by confident consumers but weakened by a cautious business sector that is reducing investments and bracing for a contraction.

The two largest office furniture companies in West Michigan posted mixed results in their most recent quarters. 

GRAND RAPIDS — Independent air compressor distributor Michigan Air Solutions LLC has been acquired by the U.S. affiliate of ELGi Equipments Ltd., a global air compressor manufacturer based in southern India. 

WALKER — Employee-owned plastics extruder Custom Profile Inc. of Walker plans to establish new manufacturing operations in South Carolina. 

GRAND RAPIDS — Field’s Fire Protection Inc. has been acquired by Indianapolis, Ind.-based CertaSite, a recently-formed commercial fire protection business. 

The Michigan Manufacturing and Technology Association (MMTA) launched last month to help the state’s smallest manufacturers become more competitive and prosperous. 

The sale comes as JSJ hones its strategy to focus on the high-growth companies within its portfolio, which includes auto supplier GHSP, label maker McLoone, engineered metal solutions provider Hudson Technologies and Sparks Belting Co. Chairman, President and CEO Nelson Jacobson spoke with MiBiz about the drivers behind the sale and how JSJ looks to invest as it begins to bring on board the fourth-generation family members of the company’s founders. 

Two months after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued an unprecedented number of line-item vetoes to the state Legislature’s budget plan, $37.3 million for statewide workforce development programs remains unfunded. 

GRAND RAPIDS — Data center equipment maintenance service provider Service Express LLC has been sold to a New York City private equity firm. 

GRAND HAVEN — After being part of the JSJ Corp. portfolio of companies for nearly 80 years, metalworking equipment and machine tool maker Dake Corp. has new owners. 

The collective outlook among automotive suppliers is moving deep into negative territory as trade tensions, declining volumes and weakness in the U.S. economy weigh on the minds of manufacturers. 

GRAND RAPIDS — Tier 1 automotive supplier Gill Corp. has settled a lawsuit with Ann Arbor-based Benteler Automotive Corp. about payments Gill was demanding as it prepared to close its Bond Avenue production plant in Grand Rapids.

GRAND RAPIDS — A bombshell new lawsuit alleges that Grand Rapids-based Tier 1 automotive supplier Gill Corp. is demanding “ransom” from its customers as the metal stamper dissolves its operations. 

The stoppage of medical device sterilization at a Grand Rapids facility by the end of the year is adding to local and national concerns about the availability of critical health care equipment.

Innovations in polymer science have produced plastics that are lighter than aluminum and relatively durable, causing manufacturers and their customers to take a new look at how to use the materials.

Mergers and acquisitions activity among plastics manufacturers has been uneven as the supply of assets shrinks, demand grows and threats to the economy build. 

The desire to continue to grow and keep production in West Michigan despite a crippling labor shortage remains the principal driver for Byrne Electrical Specialists Inc.’s adoption of automation.

Gene Hawkins, vice president of engineering at ADAC, spoke with MiBiz about how the company is looking at R&D and where it sees the future of plastics in the automotive industry. 

Key indexes for industrial activity across West Michigan recorded big declines for October that economist Brian Long partly attributes to the lengthy United Auto Workers strike again General Motors.

MUSKEGON — Kayak manufacturer Hemisphere Design Works is closing two factories in Muskegon, according to a notice filed with the state’s Workforce Development Agency. 

CHARLOTTE — Specialty vehicle manufacturer and assembler Spartan Motors Inc. expects full-year sales to approach the $1 billion milestone this year. 

A federal lawsuit claims Stryker Corp. for years used bribery “as an integral part of its world-wide marketing strategy” to sell medical products to an agency of the Mexican government that provides care to residents.

CASCADE TOWNSHIP — Automotive supplier Yanfeng US Automotive Interior Systems has entered into an agreement to sell the company’s Grand Rapids-area operations to a new automotive-focused private equity firm, MiBiz has learned. 

ZEELAND — Office furniture maker Herman Miller Inc. has acquired the remaining shares of U.K.-based furniture designer and manufacturer Naughtone for $46.1 million.

GREENVILLE — Manufacturer Aquest Machining & Assembly plans to invest an estimated $1.3 million into an expansion of its current location in Greenville.

Regardless of when the historic UAW strike against General Motors Co. ultimately ends, the disruptive effect of lost production and earnings will linger, putting further strain on an industry already flagged by slowing sales and tariff disputes with China.

Most of the employees at Abcor Industries LLC, a Holland-based manufacturer of powder-coated wood products, are convicted felons. J.T. Weis, the company’s CEO and owner since 2012, said the employment of ex-offenders is part of Abcor’s triple bottom line business strategy.

GRAND RAPIDS — While state environmental regulators and a company have reached a tentative agreement to stop sterilizing medical devices at a Grand Rapids plant, officials say their work tracking a pollutant from the facility and elsewhere is far from over.

ZEELAND — The United Auto Workers strike against General Motors has cost Tier 1 automotive supplier Gentex Corp. about $7 million to $8 million per week in lost sales. 

ADA — Amway Corp. and parent company Alticor Inc. recently filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against an eBay Inc. seller based in Brooklyn, N.Y.  

MUSKEGON — Iroquois Hoods Inc., a Muskegon maker of laboratory furniture with a focus on custom fume hoods, was acquired by entrepreneurs Rick Claypool and Nate Thornton.

An emphasis on shared family values and the promise of continued investment and growth made last year’s sale of privately-owned Structural Concepts Corp. to private equity firm Mason Wells a “very friendly, reasonably smooth deal all the way along.”