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Robotics and additive manufacturing markets have entered into a new phase of growth, ripened by an era in which maintaining the status quo is no longer viable for manufacturers who struggle to secure quality labor. That’s because robotic systems are enabling manufacturers to deliver higher quality parts and maximize throughput, said Mark Ermatinger, vice president of sales at Zeeland-based Industrial Control Service Inc., who does not see the “rise” of robots stopping anytime soon.
While 3-D printing technology has been used for decades in prototyping and short-run production, new methods and materials could finally launch additive manufacturing into more widespread, higher-volume uses. The technology has long offered a playground for engineering department experimentation but never really advanced beyond specific niches, according to industry experts.
WALKER — Entrepreneur Steve Ehmann has experience riding the wave of business on the way up and knows what it’s like when that same wave comes crashing down. Right out of college, Ehmann started a windsurfing school and then a chain of surfing apparel retail stores along the coast of West Michigan. When the recession of the early 1990s hit, the retail industry “got too rough,” according to Ehmann, who closed the stores in 1992.
For nearly 90 years, workers in the rural community of Evart processed dairy products out of the Dean’s Dairy building. After shutting its doors and ending an era in 2013, the vacant building now has new owners who plan to repurpose it for automotive component manufacturing.
Taylor Tooling Group LLC, a Walker-based CNC machining company and tool and die maker, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
After 25 years representing manufacturers in Lansing through the Michigan Manufacturers Association, President and CEO Chuck Hadden is retiring at the end of 2019. He took over leadership of MMA at a nadir for manufacturers, when the fate of the auto industry and its supply chain was a big question mark looming over the state.
MUSKEGON — Shifting dynamics in the automotive industry convinced family-owned Hines Corp., an industrial holding company, to seek a buyer for its Michigan Spring & Stamping LLC operations. The decision came after Michigan Spring successfully launched a new production facility in China in September 2018 in response to demands from a key customer, said George “Bud” Hendrick III, executive vice president of corporate development at Hines Corp.
HUDSONVILLE — SoundOff Signal, a global supplier of LED vehicle lighting, control systems, and electronic warning products, prides itself on a quarter century of “smart design” and hometown service. The Hudsonville-based company started in 1992 with a single innovative solution to a uniquely dangerous problem. At the time, research indicated that motorcyclists were inadvertently leaving their turn signals on after completing a turn, resulting in motorist confusion and leading to serious accidents. SoundOff Signal designed a device that initiated a beeping sound once the turn signal was activated, reminding the cyclist to turn the signal off once a turn was complete.
Roll covering manufacturer Vail Rubber Works Inc. plans to invest $8.3 million for a new facility in Southwest Michigan after outgrowing its longtime space in downtown St. Joseph.
Die Tech Services Inc., a West Michigan-based manufacturer of dies and checking fixtures that also supplies contract labor to manufacturers, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Spartan Motors Inc. has expanded its dealership network in the southeastern U.S. for its Spartan Emergency Response business unit.
Holland-based Composite Builders LLC plans invest over $344,000 to more than double its manufacturing space.
Floor care product company Bissell Inc. plans to invest $10 million into an expansion project at its corporate headquarters.
Opus Packaging Group Inc. is continuing the expansion of its packaging facilities portfolio with the acquisition of a fourth company, Wabash Container Corp. of Illinois.
After three generations of family ownership, Grand Rapids-based Amstore Corp. will permanently cease manufacturing operations at its headquarters, MiBiz has learned.
Medbio LLC, a West Michigan-based manufacturer of injection moldings, assemblies and packaging for medical device and biotech industry, has acquired AIM Plastics Inc.
Private equity firm Auxo Investment Partners moved deeper into the marine transportation business with an investment in Muskegon-based Andrie Inc.
Manufacturing holding company Andronaco Industries Inc. plans to relocate its Conley Composites LLC subsidiary from Oklahoma to a new location in Kent County.
DOWAGIAC — The non-gaming arm of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians had acquired a majority stake in Enmark Tool & Gage Co., a Southeast Michigan precision machining company. The tribe’s Mno-Bmadsen business investment arm closed on the deal on Feb. 1, according to a statement.
After nine months of investigation, the U.S. Department of Commerce submitted a concealed national security report on Sunday that prompted an immediate backlash from the auto industry.
Universal Forest Products Inc. is acquiring the assets of a Grand Rapids-based wood panel components manufacturer.
As the Trump administration prepares to roll back emissions regulations that push cars to be cleaner and more fuel efficient, it may also set the stage for a political battle that could create a rift in the U.S. auto industry. After several months of comment and a possible setback from the 35-day government shutdown last month, the newly finalized fuel economy rules are due from the administration by March 31. However, following the publication of the proposed changes, California and eighteen other states announced that if less-stringent fuel economy rules are enacted, they will sue the government — which may lead to a period of prolonged regulatory uncertainty.
MUSKEGON — A lakeshore fabrication shop hopes to capitalize on explosive growth in the U.S. craft distilling industry by offering custom Michigan-made stills and other equipment. NexGen Mechanical Solutions LLC founder Scott Whitaker, a pipefitter by trade, over the last 13 years developed a niche in serving the region’s distilleries, including New Holland Artisan Spirits in Holland and Muskegon-based 18th Amendment Spirits Co.
For the first time in four years, sales for direct-selling giant Amway Corp. have grown on a year-over-year basis.
BELMONT — Filter and Coating Technology Inc., a supplier of filter and coating solutions for the automotive and industrial markets, is under new ownership.
After nearly a century in Michigan, Harsco Corp. plans to permanently close its only manufacturing facility in the state, starting April 1.
Like more than half of Michigan’s manufacturers, business runs in the family at Grand Rapids-based Pridgeon & Clay Inc.
Despite a looming plateau in auto sales and automakers overwhelmingly betting on the same pieces of the market, savvy suppliers could still realize major opportunities in the coming years. Those opportunities come as automotive sales hit nearly 17.3 million units for 2018, with trucks and SUVs up 8 percent, accounting for around 11.8 million units. Meanwhile, passenger car sales dipped 13 percent to 5.5 million units.
With the final winter North American International Auto Show in the books, the century-old expo in Detroit and newer market-specific shows across the Midwest may start to change organically — but organizers aren’t planning on it.
Oliver Healthcare Packaging has expanded with a deal for a supplier of medical device packaging on the West Coast.
A subsidiary of a China-based manufacturer of electromechanical actuators plans to invest $2 million into a new headquarters facility on the lakeshore.
Westshore Design LLC plans to add customers in new markets with the acquisition of a Moline, Mich. electronics manufacturer.
HOLLAND — Acquiring the assets of a Charlotte-based plastics molder gave Clarion Technologies Inc. a broader customer base, added manufacturing capacity and the ability to move production closer to clients. The Holland-based Clarion Technologies acquired certain assets and a book of business from CNI Plastics LLC of Charlotte. Clarion Technologies redeployed the production equipment acquired in the deal to its facilities in Greenville, Mich., Anderson, S.C., and Garland, Texas.
Heavy truck industry supplier SAF-Holland Inc. has acquired a majority stake in a company that manufactures automatic tire pressure management systems.
Grand Haven-based GHSP Inc. is a global manufacturer “rooted into the West Michigan area,” according to Chief Technology Officer Marc Smeyers. In the past, GHSP was known for auto technology that combined electronics and mechanical engineering. Now, the company — a division of JSJ Corp. — is working across multiple industries for smart technology applications. At the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, GHSP introduced a future concept vehicle, products that use ultraviolet C (UVC) light to disinfect themselves, and a kitchen backsplash that’s an edge-to-edge touchscreen. Smeyers spoke to MiBiz about crossover technology in an increasingly fast-paced environment.
GRAND RAPIDS — The executives behind an iconic American superbike brand are breathing new life into the company and relaunching “boutique” motorcycle production in West Michigan. By establishing low-volume production of EBR Motorcycles in Grand Rapids, owner Bill Melvin hopes to bring sustainability to the company founded by famed motorcycle racer Erik Buell some 35 years ago.
As Larry Lewis advanced in his career as an engineer in the manufacturing, construction and telecommunications industries, he relied on computers as an essential tool for his everyday work. His aptitude grew alongside the technology, to which he was first exposed at Dartmouth College in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Most manufacturers can expect to fork over less in taxes for last year, and companies that monitor the shifting provisions could capitalize on greater investment in a few key areas. Although most of the tax cuts from the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 became effective for manufacturers on Jan. 1, 2018, businesses in all industries have been left with questions and uncertainty about how the new laws need to be applied, said Joel Mitchell, a tax partner at Plante Moran PLLC in Grand Rapids.
NORTON SHORES — A company that moved out of Norton Shores before its tax abatements expired is now suing the lakeshore community and fighting the city’s demands for repayment of nearly $1 million.
WYOMING — A Cleveland-based producer of specialty abrasive products plans to move part of its business to the Grand Rapids area after it was acquired by local private equity firm Stone Fox Ventures LLC.
NORTON SHORES — A lakeshore community is asking a manufacturer Wacker Neuson Corp. to pay back lost tax revenue after the company left town before fulfilling the obligations of its tax abatement. Wacker Neuson, a manufacturer of construction equipment that had been located in Norton Shores since 2007, closed its facility at 1300 E. Mount Garfield Road in August 2018, two and a half years before the expiration of one of six tax abatements it received.
A Southwest Michigan box manufacturer has agreed to pay $400,000 after it faced allegations of misconduct in connection to a multi-state subcontract with the federal government.
West Michigan-based contract furniture makers Steelcase Inc. and Herman Miller Inc. expect to maintain sales momentum going into 2019.
Business as usual? Manufacturers face questions over drug policies after Michigan legalizes marijuanaWritten by Jessica Young
Now that all adults in Michigan can legally use marijuana, employers are weighing how the new law — and misunderstandings about it — could affect their workforces.