WALKER — Storage system manufacturer Speedrack Products Group Ltd. is expanding its Michigan operations with a nearly $65 million investment Walker.
The pallet racking and storage company plans to create 160 new jobs at the new facility planned at 3060 South Industrial Drive NW in Walker. Speedrack was founded in 1954 in Skokie, Ill., but established its headquarters in Alpine Township in 1989. The company employs nearly 300 people and has manufactured all of its vertical rack storage units in Michigan for the last 20 years between two industrial sites in Quincy and Litchfield.
At a groundbreaking ceremony Monday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and economic development officials said the company’s expansion showcases the Michigan manufacturing sector’s rebound from the pandemic.
“As we jumpstart our economy, today’s groundbreaking is helping to build the path to economic growth and recovery here in West Michigan,” Whitmer said at Monday’s event.
The Right Place Inc. President and CEO Randy Thelen said the Speedrack expansion is a win for the broader Grand Rapids region.
“As we go forward and think about a tight labor market and how to attract and retain people, it’s companies that truly care for their employees and people as family — these are the ones that will step ahead of the rest,” Thelen said.
The 275,000-square-foot facility in Walker will help Speedrack meet the growing demand from its e-commerce customers, which include Amazon, GAP and Chewy, and other consumer goods market customers including Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co., Medline Industries Inc., Caterpillar Inc. (CAT) as well as the furniture industry.
“Our customers, particularly those in the e-commerce industry, have seen a significant increase in sales over the last several years, and so Speedrack has invested and grown in order to support that growth,” Speedrack President Eric Quist said in a statement. “We recognized that if we were going to continue to meet this new demand, we needed to expand our manufacturing footprint.”
Grand Rapids-based Visser Brothers Inc. is constructing the facility that’s expected to be completed by the end of March 2022.
The Michigan Economic Development Corp. is supporting the expansion with the approval of a $820,000 Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant. The city of Walker has also approved an industrial facilities tax abatement in support of the expansion.
Quist said the company was exploring a potential expansion in Indiana and Illinois, though the MEDC grant and close proximity to an international airport and downtown Grand Rapids led to the Walker site selection.
Walker Mayor Gary Carey said the project aligns with the city’s growing number of industrial companies and expansions. The city’s industrial corridor north of I-96 was strategized years ago and “continues to be the fuel driving Walker’s economy,” Carey said Monday.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated with comments from Monday’s groundbreaking ceremony.