WHITE CLOUD — Refractory product manufacturer HarbisonWalker International Inc. is investing $9 million to expand its plant in Newaygo County.
The expansion, which will increase the company’s shop floor by 35 percent in its first phase, will allow for additional warehousing space and increase its capacity for advanced manufacturing and hydraulic presses, according to a statement.
Pittsburgh, Pa.-based HarbisonWalker employs 140 people at the 110,000-square-foot facility, located at 1301 E. 8th Street in Everett Township, just south of the city of White Cloud.
The company cited customers’ investments in increased steel production as a main driver of the expansion in West Michigan.
“White Cloud is an extremely important facility that has been vital to our company and the community for more than four decades,” HarbisonWalker Chairman and CEO Carol Jackson said in a statement. “Historically, and especially in the past two years, the team at White Cloud has helped fuel our steel industry customers’ success by consistently delivering on their tremendous demand for the refractory products we produce here.”
HarbisonWalker has invested over the last three years in modernizing the plant, which produces brick and monolithic refractory products. The latest investment comes as part of a company-wide initiative to boost capacity by 25 percent this year at its steel refractory facilities.
The company worked with The Right Place Inc., a Grand Rapids-based regional economic development agency, to support the expansion project, for which Everett Township granted a tax abatement.
“HarbisonWalker International is one of Newaygo County’s largest employers,” said Julie Burrell, The Right Place’s business development coordinator for Newaygo County and the project lead. “As a global company with nearly 20 facilities worldwide, it’s a very competitive playing field. Their decision to expand the Everett Township plant over any of the others is an excellent indication of what our area has to offer to the business community.”