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Published in Manufacturing
A rendering of Gotion Inc.’s planned $2.36 billion battery manufacturing plant in Mecosta County. A rendering of Gotion Inc.’s planned $2.36 billion battery manufacturing plant in Mecosta County. COURTESY PHOTO

New ventures, bankruptcies and batteries: The 10 most-read manufacturing stories of 2022

BY Thursday, December 29, 2022 12:51pm

West Michigan’s manufacturing sector experienced a mix of highs and lows in 2022, as several major ventures plan to bring in billions of dollars in new investments while other companies contended with inflation, supply chain disruptions and labor availability.

Those economic challenges particularly disrupted the office furniture industry, which announced layoffs to combat lower-than-anticipated revenues. 

Meanwhile, global companies announced plans to revamp a former Muskegon-area facility into a $430 million life sciences manufacturing site as well as a $3.6 billion battery manufacturing plant near Big Rapids.

Here’s a look at the 10 most-read manufacturing stories among MiBiz readers in 2022.

— Andy Balaskovitz, managing editor

Wolverine World Wide innovation team aims to solve key challenges for company brands

Wolverine World Wide Inc.’s ReTread program is an example of the Rockford-based company’s new approach to innovation that needs to deliver on the needs of its broad portfolio of brands.

Former Herman Miller exec launches ergonomics-focused office furniture products

After serving nearly three decades as director of seating and ergonomics product management for Herman Miller Inc., Keith McRobert leveraged his knowledge and experience into a new venture known as NEXposture LLC, which opened in 2020.

RoMan acquires Grand Haven manufacturer for $2M in court-approved sale

Wyoming-based RoMan Manufacturing Inc. formed a new entity in early 2022 to acquire the assets of Grand Power Systems Inc., in an effort to rebuild the Grand Haven electric transformer manufacturer that went into receivership in 2021 after defaulting on loan agreements with Comerica Inc. Grand Power Systems was a former portfolio company of private equity firm Blackford Capital.

Pace Industries to close 2 Muskegon plants, lay off 244 workers

Die casting manufacturer Pace Industries LLC in November announced plans to lay off 244 workers as it closes two Muskegon plants before the end of the year. In a filing with the state, company officials cited “financial trouble” as the reason for the layoffs and closure of its facility at 2121 Latimer Drive in Muskegon.

Steelcase to slash 180 salaried positions, citing current slump in new orders

The job cuts disclosed in a September earnings report were part of Steelcase Inc.’s plan to generate about $20 million in cost savings in response to higher costs. The cuts also came as the contract furniture company reported a 19-percent increase in global sales for the three-month period that ended Aug. 26, albeit with lower earnings.

After string of acquisitions, Kentwood manufacturing group files for Ch. 11 bankruptcy

Grand Rapids-area manufacturing group TG Manufacturing LLC, which made significant investments in the casino gaming machine industry, filed for bankruptcy in early 2022 after accumulating more than $10 million in debt.

Steelcase execs attribute salaried job cuts to ‘dark clouds,’ slow adoption of hybrid work models

Steelcase CFO and Senior Vice President Dave Sylvester said the furniture maker’s move to eliminate 180 salaried positions in the fall of 2022 was the result of “dark clouds” for the economy and as the office furniture maker experienced reduced incoming orders.

Details emerge on ‘transformational’ Big Rapids battery manufacturing project

The Detroit News was first to report in September about Gotion Inc.’s $2.36 billion plan to build a battery manufacturing operation near the Big Rapids airport that aims to create up to 2,000 jobs.

Life sciences company investing up to $430M to revive former BASF site in Muskegon Twp.

State officials in June approved $3 million in incentives for Global Life Sciences Solutions USA LLC’s plan to invest $430 million to repurpose a former herbicide production plant north of Muskegon into a life sciences facility.

Q&A: Amway CEO discusses path to U.S. citizenship, company growth plans

MiBiz caught up with Amway Corp. CEO Milind Pant last month after the long-time corporate executive and his family received U.S. citizenship status. Pant also discussed Amway’s growth plans after a major round of layoffs last year.

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