Published in Economic Development

Growth Report: October 12, 2019

BY MIBIZ STAFF Saturday, October 12, 2019 08:17am

This is the growth report for Oct. 12.


■ Zeeland-based office furniture manufacturer Herman Miller Inc. plans to increase its ownership stake in Denmark-based Hay A/S by an additional 34 percent. The $78 million deal is expected to close on Dec. 2, 2019, subject to closing conditions, according to a statement. Herman Miller expects the acquisition to be accretive to earnings in the second half of its 2020 fiscal year. At the close of the deal, Herman Miller will control a 67-percent stake in the company. Founders Rolf Hay and Mette Hay will retain a 33-percent stake. Hay generated approximately $160 million in revenue in its most recent fiscal year, which ended in July.

Greatland Corp., a provider of W-2, 1099 and 1095 solutions, has acquired JAT Software Inc. of Bridgewater Township, N.J. The deal gives Grand Rapids-based Greatland increased market share and expands its wage and information reporting product portfolio. JAT Software provides year-end reporting software, web applications and print services. All 15 current JAT employees will join Greatland and work from the current New Jersey office.

■ Ownership of Lansing-based Marketing Resource Group Inc., commonly known as MRG, recently transitioned from founder Tom Shields to Jenell Leonard. The 40-year-old public relations firm that serves corporate, political, nonprofit and private clients also moved its office to the Atrium Building located at 215 S. Washington Square, Suite F, in Lansing.

■ New York City-based Blackstone Group Inc. is purchasing a 65-percent stake in Chicago-based waterpark operator Great Wolf Resorts Inc. from Centerbridge Partners, according to a report in Crain’s Detroit Business. Blackstone and Centerbridge plan to launch a $2.9 billion joint venture to operate Great Wolf, which owns a family resort in Traverse City.


Flexco Grand Rapids, a manufacturer of conveyor maintenance equipment, is relocating its Michigan operations to the WalkerView Industrial Park. The company is building a more than 300,000-square-foot industrial building at 1920 Northridge Drive NW on a 36-acre site within the industrial park that will house manufacturing and office space. Flexco will move its 157 Michigan employees to the new building, said Doug Saunders, director of operations for North America. Flexco will purchase the property from RDG Walker LLC, an affiliate of Grand Rapids-based Rockford Construction Co. Inc., which isdeveloping the industrial park. Grand Rapids-based Pioneer Construction Inc. will serve as the construction manager. Progressive AE Inc., also based in Grand Rapids, designed the facility, which is expected to open by the end of 2020.

■ Wyoming-based Gordon Food Service Inc. plans to build a new distribution center in Westfield, Ind., north of Indianapolis. Construction on the proposed 500,000-square-foot facility is scheduled to begin in spring 2020, pending necessary approvals, with a projected start-up in late 2021. The new facility will be semi-automated, using mini-loaders, mini-shuttles and conveyors designed to assist staff in moving products quickly and safely through the warehouse. The Westfield facility would become the company’s 17th distribution center in the United States and its first in Indiana. The center will serve clients in the greater Indianapolis area and employ more than 200 people.

Big Dutchman Inc., a global systems provider for egg, poultry and pig production, plans to invest nearly $438,000 to improve its existing facility on John F. Donnelly Drive in Holland Charter Township. The company expects the project could create 24 jobs. Holland Charter Township is supporting the expansion with a 12-year Industrial Facilities Tax exemption.

■ Holland Charter Township-based Tric Tool Ltd. plans a more than $694,000 investment for a 6,000-square-foot expansion of its manufacturing and warehousing operations on John F. Donnelly Drive. The firm, which provides engineered solutions for component manufacturing, assembly and inspection, expects to create about five jobs as a result of the expansion. The company also received a 12-year Industrial Facilities Tax exemption from the township.

■ Office furniture manufacturer Herman Miller Inc. plans to invest more than $1.6 million to add 96 trailer parking spaces at its Midwest Distribution Center and to straighten an access roadway from 104th Ave. in Holland Charter Township, which approved a 12-year Industrial Facilities Tax exemption to support the project.

■ Ada-based software development firm Michigan Software Labs LLC expects to nearly double its headcount as part of an expansion. The company, founded in 2010 by Mark Johnson and Joshua Hulst, is investing more than $840,000 in a 7,500-square-foot addition at the Ada location. Currently, Michigan Software Labs employs 28 software developers, and expects to add another 27 people over the next few years as part of the expansion, according to a statement. The Michigan Economic Development Corp. is supporting the project with a $108,000 performance-based Michigan Business Development Program grant.

■ Conklin-based Pux Cider hopes to open its first tasting room in early 2020 in Grand Rapids’ Midtown neighborhood. The maker of alcoholic ciders has focused on the distribution market since its founding and plans to open its first customer-facing location at 311 Fuller Ave. NE, next door to The Cheese Lady store. Co-owner Chris Schaefer expects a 5-month to 7-month build-out and licensing process for the tasting room, which will seat about 47 people inside and have a 48-person outdoor patio.


■ Grand Rapids-based venture capital fund Grand Ventures closed on $28 million that was raised for its first fund. Grand Ventures Fund I LP targets promising early-stage investments in tech companies in the Midwest involved in business enterprise software for advanced manufacturing, agriculture and food, transportation and mobility, and other industries. The fund expects to invest in 15 to 20 companies over five years, said Tim Streit, co-founder and managing partner. The fund attracted more than 60 investors with a combination of individuals and family offices, Streit said. Most of the early investors came from West Michigan. Grand Venture also was able to attract investors from the East Coast and West Coast, as well as Texas.


First National Bank of Michigan plans to relocate its downtown Kalamazoo office Oct. 21 to 318 West Michigan Ave., next door to the present location. The move from the office occupied since First National Bank of Michigan started in 2006 to remodeled space enables the bank to use a drive-thru window and increases office space for corporate operations. First National Bank of Michigan, with total assets of $573.7 million, has five offices in Kalamazoo, Portage, Grand Rapids and Holland and plans to open a branch in Lansing in 2020.

Mercantile Bank of Michigan opened a residential mortgage office at 4362 Cascade Road. A new bank branch office located at 4737 Cascade Road SE opens Oct. 28. Mercantile Bank presently has 46 banking offices across the Lower Peninsula.

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