Manufacturing

ACME — In his role as president of Shape Corp., Mark White often deals with disruptions in navigating the Grand Haven-based Tier 1 automotive supplier through uncertain business conditions.

Before Landscape Forms Inc. acquired Kornegay Design last year, the Kalamazoo-based designer and manufacturer of site furniture, accessories and lighting mulled several acquisition targets that shared its design culture and core beliefs.

KENTWOOD — For months, Advance Packaging Corp. has been trying to fill nearly two dozen openings at its facility in Kentwood.

New tariffs and an escalating global trade war in recent weeks have stoked fears that global manufacturers will move production outside of the United States to protect their margins. 

By making a significant investment in cybersecurity, West Michigan manufacturers can avoid having their sensitive information getting into the wrong hands. 

WALKER — Citing increased demand from its automotive customer base, Betz Industries Inc. wants to expand its manufacturing capabilities at its sprawling West Michigan campus.

Automotive supplier Benteler Automotive Corp. faces a grim reality: Two-thirds of the company’s maintenance technicians will “retire out” of the workforce over the next few years.

WALKER — Since relocating its headquarters to West Michigan in 2015, Plasan North America Inc. has moved closer to its customers, added hundreds of jobs and expanded its facilities.

 CHICAGO — These days, furniture purchasers likely are interacting with a product virtually before they ever see it in a showroom or store.

Whether via acquisition or partnership agreements, West Michigan’s office furniture makers are looking to fill product holes with their recent spate of deals.

Inside Chicago’s Merchandise Mart at NeoCon earlier this month, office furniture manufacturers displayed new products that both showcased and contradicted the renewed shift to more private office spaces.

Two perfectly logical people can share an experience and still come to two entirely different conclusions.

Industry headwinds such as steel and aluminum tariffs and new disruptors are forcing many West Michigan office furniture makers to deal with new challenges. 

MUSKEGON — The path to closing the $66 billion mega-merger of Bayer AG and Monsanto Co. included the divestiture of chemical manufacturing operations in West Michigan.

Six months into his tenure, Perrigo Co. plc CEO Uwe Röhrhoff is focused on accelerating growth. 

To combat some of the truck driver shortages, large trucking companies are offering sign-on bonuses at rates as high as $5,000 to $10,000, according to Laidler. While Columbian Logistics doesn’t offer signing bonuses, the company is considering the incentive, he said, adding that firms need to “cater to the indirect desires of the driver.”

Despite interviews with countless possible candidates over a period of months, Columbian Logistics Network Inc. continues to struggle to find qualified truck drivers in West Michigan. 

ZEELAND — Every acquisition has its share of obstacles to clear, but the process becomes even more challenging when the buyer and seller speak different languages. 

With the automotive market performing slightly ahead of expectation for the year, IHS Markit analyst Mike Wall pinpoints trends that will keep projections positive for the rest of 2018. So far this year, Wall said news in the industry has been “interesting,” as some automakers phase out sedan nameplates to focus on trucks and crossovers, while others move “heaven and earth” to source components after a major supplier fire. In an interview with MiBiz, Wall shared his insights into the automotive industry.

ADAC Automotive has launched one of the most ambitious capital projects in the manufacturer’s history. The Tier 1 supplier door of handles and exterior mirrors plans to invest roughly $23.5 million to build a new 56,000-square-foot corporate headquarters on Eagle Drive in Cascade Township, as well as expand its research and development facility by 24,000 square feet. With the move, ADAC plans to add 50 high-tech positions. MiBiz spoke with President and CEO Jim Teets about the investment, which comes during a period in which automotive sales are starting to flatten.

Explosive growth in Michigan’s craft beer industry has created hundreds of new companies over the last decade. As a result of all those new entrants, competition in the industry has ratcheted up to an all-time high, testing the industry’s collegiality and owners’ appetite for risk. Even so, many executives still see opportunities to expand their companies. In this comprehensive special report, MiBiz explores how savvy companies are adapting their business models to thrive in an increasingly volatile market.

GRAND RAPIDS — Facing the possibility of higher metal costs, the largest manufacturer in the office furniture industry has reached out to the federal government for relief. 

Muskegon’s Pigeon Hill Brewing Co. is embarking on ambitious expansion plans as the company wrestles with how best to compete in the highly volatile industry.

Stroll through the beer aisle at some West Michigan grocery supercenters and you might notice a bit of gold tucked between the red, white and blue cases of Budweiser and MillerCoors brands. 

The meteoric rise of Michigan’s craft brewing industry has spawned the creation of hundreds of new companies in communities all over the state. 

The craft brewing industry continues to evolve at a rapid pace. As breweries strive to stay relevant in the eyes of thirsty customers, they also need to find ways to keep their distributor and retail partners happy. Companies need to balance all those demands and more if they plan to grow beyond the taproom model, which still provides their most lucrative sales.

GRAND RAPIDS — In its first five years, The Mitten Brewing Co. mostly brewed beer to serve in its Grand Rapids pub and a satellite taproom in Northport on the Leelanau Peninsula. 

With the craft brewing industry continuing to grow — albeit slower than just a few years ago — many West Michiganbased equipment suppliers are honing their product niches to get ahead of any future market corrections.

Manufacturers in the automotive supply chain are scooping up acquisitions in emerging technologies to break into new markets before their competition. By moving into alternative powertrains, connected car technologies, artificial intelligence and predictive analytics, suppliers want to position themselves to get ahead of disruptions as the industry shifts to the “car of the future,” according to Jeff Zaleski, U.S. automotive deals leader at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLC, a global consulting firm.

GRAND RAPIDS — Driven by customers’ needs to lightweight large components, Paragon Die and Engineering Co. is adding new equipment and expanding its facility in West Michigan.

While most economists still believe in the strength of the overall economy, some West Michigan manufacturers say their business has begun to soften, indicating a slowdown could be starting to emerge.

Emerging drone technology is helping reduce costs and save time for a range of West Michigan businesses, from farmers to construction companies and beyond. 

With the automotive industry headed for a period of plateauing sales and a potential slowdown, manufacturers could find opportunities to diversify by supplying Michigan’s aerospace sector.

WAYLAND — With the acquisition of a West Michigan aerospace manufacturer, Tribus Aerospace aims to become a regional consolidator in the highly fragmented industry across the Midwest.

ROCKFORD — An employee-owned Minnesota company has acquired Integrated Packaging LLC, an automation manufacturer based in Rockford.

Black Swamp Percussion LLC started out like many musical instrument manufacturers tend to, by “rolling out of hobby mode into a little bit of a business.”

ROCKFORD — Getting West Michigan manufacturers to embrace cutting-edge technology can be “a tough nut to crack.”

For West Michigan manufacturers who are struggling both to find workers and to keep up with order volumes, the recent federal tax reform offers some welcome news.

Spurred on by tax reform, a need for innovation and the current talent shortage, manufacturers increasingly have embraced automation on their shop floors.

Michigan’s role in improving manufacturing efficiency has come a long way since the invention of the assembly line.

The shift to a more automated future in which manufacturers need fewer workers to churn out products has the potential to upend how industrialized countries operate.

HOLLAND — When outdated machinery forced Genzink Steel Supply and Welding Co. to delay customer orders and send products to other companies, President Brock Mahler knew it was time to invest in new equipment.

Joe Dyer wants manufacturers to know that automation isn’t an end goal but a means to drive greater productivity, profitability and efficiency in the workplace.

Page 3 of 8