Published in Economic Development

Growth Report: January 6, 2020

BY MIBIZ STAFF Sunday, January 05, 2020 05:00pm

This is the MiBiz growth report for January 6, 2020.


  • 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. The Holland-based JR Automation had been a portfolio company of New York City-based private equity firm Crestview Partners since 2015. Hitachi signed a definitive agreement to acquire JR Automation in April.
  • Grand Rapids-based private equity firm Blackford Capital Inc. purchased the U.S. brand licensing rights to McHenry, Ill.-based Cartridge World, a franchised printing consumables brand. Blackford will now oversee the master franchisees nationwide and aims to help franchises grow via implementing business model changes and adapting to business trends. In the last 18 months, the company has recently expanded from selling ink and toner to offering other products and services at its franchise locations. Terms of the deal were undisclosed.
  • Grand Rapids-based 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. The deal allows ELGi to expand and grow its presence in the U.S. via an established customer base, according to a statement. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. ELGi is publicly traded on the National Stock Exchange of India and has a market capitalization equivalent to more than $566 million. 
  • Traverse City-based Northern Radio of Michigan Inc. is selling off a pair of radio stations in separate transactions, according to a report on InsideRadio. Midwestern Broadcasting Co., also of Traverse City, will acquire rock station 97.5 WKLT for $450,000, while Mt. Pleasant-based Central Michigan University is purchasing 94.3 WFCX for $500,000 and plans to add it to the WCMU Public Radio network, InsideRadio reported. 
  • Las Vegas-based private investment firm Crystal View Capital purchased the 398-unit Stowaway Mini Storage at 9879 Portage Road in Portage, according to a report in Inside Self Storage. Berkadia arranged a 10-year, fixed-rate $2.5 million acquisition loan from CIBC World Markets, according to a statement. 
  • Private equity-backed Aspen Surgical Inc. of Caledonia acquired Redmond, Wash.-based orthopedic products manufacturer Beatty Marketing & Sales LLP. The deal gives Aspen Surgical a broader portfolio of orthopedic surgical products, including sterile kits, suture retrievers and positioning products. Terms of the deal were undisclosed.
  • Private equity-backed High Street Insurance Partners Inc. of Traverse City has acquired InPro Insurance Agency LLC, a full-service independent insurance agency in Troy, Mich. The deal is the seventh acquisition for High Street Insurance, which was formed in mid 2018 by Detroit-based Huron Capital Partners LLC, and is the platform’s first transaction in Southeast Michigan. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. 
  • The Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired became an independent subsidiary of Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital on Jan. 1. The nonprofit merger comes as ABVI Executive Director Richard Stevens retires after 17 years at the organization. ABVI served more than 930 clients in the 12-month period ending on Sept. 30, and evaluated more than 500 patients in outreach screenings. 
  • Niles-based Big Brothers Big Sisters of Lower West Michigan merged with South Bend, Ind.-based Big Brothers Big Sisters of St. Joseph County, effective Jan. 1. The Niles nonprofit served Berrien, Cass and St. Joseph counties in Southwest Michigan. 
  • Grand Rapids-based Field’s Fire Protection Inc. has been acquired by Indianapolis, Ind.-based CertaSite, a recently-formed commercial fire protection business. Field’s Fire Protection operates from its base in Grand Rapids and an office in Warren, Mich. Company founder Mike Field will remain with the firm as a key account manager, according to a statement. CertaSite was founded in June 2018 by New York City-based private equity firm The Riverside Co. In Michigan, CertaSite previously acquired Kalamazoo-based Approved Protection Systems and Ann Arbor-based Spears Fire & Safety Services Inc.
  • Hudsonville-based Suburban Inns, an owner and operator of hotels across Michigan, has acquired CityFlats Hotel in Holland from an affiliate of Zeeland-based Charter House Innovations, as MiBiz was first to report. Charter House, a designer and manufacturer of custom seating and decor, opened the 56-room CityFlats in 2008 as a showroom for its products. The company will continue to own and operate the other CityFlats Hotel in Grand Rapids and will operate a third that’s currently under construction in Port Huron. Suburban Inns will license the use of the CityFlats Hotel name and design. 


  • Grand Rapids-based Charter Growth Capital Fund has invested in All Star Driver Education LLC, an Ann Arbor provider of driver education. Charter Growth Capital provided mezzanine debt and a co-equity investment led by Detroit-based HighGrove Companies to recapitalize All Star, which has graduated more than 200,000 students since 1997, according to a statement. CEO Brent Wall retained an ownership stake and continues with All Star. Bodman PLC represented Charter Growth Capital Fund in the deal.


  • Sunset Retirement Communities and Services plans to begin construction in the fall on an expansion of Waterford Place in Ottawa County’s Georgetown Township that will add 62 independent living apartments at Waterford Glens and 20 lakefront villas at The Cove. Construction should last until spring 2022.
  • Ascension Borgess plans to build a new $20 million, 38,000-square-foot cancer center at the intersection of Stadium Drive and Drake Road in Oshtemo Township on the second phase of the Western Michigan University Business Technology and Research Park. The health system expects the Ascension Borgess Cancer Center to open in 2021 and offer medical oncology, hematology and infusion outpatient services. An affiliate of Ascension Borgess purchased the 8.2-acre site in July for $500,000. Dallas-based architecture firm HKS Inc. is designing the cancer center, which will be built by Portage-based general contractor AVB Inc. 
  • Employee-owned plastics extruder Custom Profile Inc. of Walker plans to establish new manufacturing operations in South Carolina. The company is investing $1.7 million into a new plant in Camden, S.C., about 35 miles northeast from the capital city of Columbia, according to a statement. Custom Profile expects to create 70 new jobs in South Carolina with the expansion. The new plant, which is expected to come online this month, will make plastic profile extrusions for the furniture, appliance and marine industries. 

Real estate

  • An affiliate of Grand Rapids-based RDV Corp. wants to put a 32-unit high-end hotel catering to extended-stay guests at The Morton, a 111-unit, market-rate apartment building located at 55 Ionia Ave. NW, at the intersection with Monroe Center Street. Completion of the project is targeted for 2020, according to RDV Corp. spokesperson Nick Wasmiller.
  • Grand Rapids-based Amplify GR is proposing a large-scale mixed-use district in the city’s Boston Square neighborhood. The nonprofit Amplify GR is seeking approval from the Grand Rapids Planning Commission for a 9-acre development that includes housing and commercial space, as well as some street reconfiguration and parking. The project will go before the Grand Rapids Planning Commission during the Jan. 9 meeting with a request to rezone several of the properties in the project area, the majority of which are owned by affiliates of Rockford Construction Co. Inc. 

Higher ed

  • The Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine Clinics changed names at the start of the new year. The clinical practice of the medical school, commonly known as WMed, is now known as WMed Health, which provides primary care and specialty medical services at locations throughout Southwest Michigan. All services, locations, providers and staff remain the same.

Craft beer

  • Comstock Park-based Speciation Artisan Ales LLC plans to open a new taproom along the burgeoning Wealthy Street corridor in Grand Rapids. The company, which also operates Native Species Winery, has signed a lease for 928 Wealthy Street SE and expects to move in later in 2020. Co-owner Mitch Ermatinger said the move will allow the company to get its products in front of more people. Its current location is set off West River Drive in an industrial area with nonexistent foot traffic. Grand Rapids-based Wealthy Ventures LLC owns the Wealthy Street building, located east of Diamond Avenue. 
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