Manufacturing

SPONSORED BY MICHIGAN ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION | PURE PARTNERSHIP

WALKER — After several years of stagnating sales in its core business, one West Michigan company is diversifying into the packaging industry with a new expansion project.

Upcoming cybersecurity regulations could catch manufacturers off guard and put at risk their ability to perform government contracts.

ALBION — A dispute over several large-scale solar energy projects forced a Southwest Michigan solar equipment manufacturer into bankruptcy earlier this month.

GRAND RAPIDS — While many companies decry the lack of available talent as a key challenge, one California-based manufacturer cited West Michigan’s workforce as the primary reason it’s moving into the region.

Automakers have some more breathing room to weigh in on federal fuel economy regulations.

Legislation proposed earlier this month in the U.S. Senate could provide a boost to Michigan’s nascent advanced wood products industry.

Aerospace suppliers are turning bullish on military contracts ahead of what many see as a surge in defense spending, despite the sector taking a backseat in recent years to the commercial aircraft industry.

The notion that a worker shortage is fueling the adoption of automation equipment discounts the role technology can play in helping companies compete. 

As automation technology continues to advance, lawmakers and industry insiders are working to determine what role a new wave of robotic workers could play in the future social tax structure.

Sentiment among automotive suppliers improved during the first part of 2017 as executives regained some degree of certainty following the results of the presidential election.

Sometimes in business a small ultimatum can make a world of difference.

HOLLAND — Backed by strong growth in the European market and synergies created through its residential business unit, Haworth Inc. closed 2016 with better sales growth than the company had in the prior year. 

ADA — A softening market in China led sales to dip in 2016 for Amway Corp., a trend that’s dogged the global direct-selling giant since 2014.

BATTLE CREEK — Following several years of product development and commercialization, Micro Laser Assisted Machining Technologies LLC ended its first year of sales and is gearing up for further growth now that its first year of sales is behind it.

As the automotive industry pursues cutting-edge technological breakthroughs in autonomous driving and vehicle electrification, West Michigan suppliers must ensure they’re not left behind. 

Despite entering a period of plateauing vehicle sales, West Michigan car dealers remain optimistic even as they wrestle with consolidation and the need to upgrade their facilities.

Following through with campaign promises, the Trump administration has set its sights on renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). 

PLAINWELL — Jim Turley remembers the call he received late one September night in 2014 as a moment that “altered our life.” 

MIDDLEVILLE — Backed by a new investment, Middleville Tool & Die Co. wants to ramp up its manufacturing capabilities that will pull it further away from its legacy business.

The next two years are shaping up to be a busy time for tool and die makers in West Michigan and beyond.

HOLLAND — While many producers of advanced electrical systems have their sights set on electric vehicles, one West Michigan manufacturer is pursuing a more underserved sector.

A mix of economic optimism and the availability of capital should yield another strong year for acquisitions in 2017.

KALAMAZOO — A major expansion by Stryker Corp. could provide a welcome shot in the arm for Southwest Michigan’s life sciences sector. 

After a strong 2016, most West Michigan manufacturers are looking ahead to this year with optimism that they will continue to grow as the economy expands. 

Despite the possibility of easing emissions regulations and historically low gasoline prices, LG Chem Michigan Inc. remains charged about the possibilities for electrified vehicles. 

MUSKEGON — After a career spent in a variety of management and sales roles in the packaging industry, Rich Wilson decided it was time to strike out on his own. 

KALAMAZOO — The U.S. Air Force could rely on satellites designed by Western Michigan University students to diagnose issues with high-tech propulsion systems in space.

After months of depressed oil prices, West Michigan manufacturers with operations in the oil-and-gas industry could soon experience a reprieve. 

NEW TROY — After a large bet on the oil and gas industry went south several years ago, Vickers Engineering Inc. struggled to position itself for growth. 

After one of the largest political upsets in recent history, West Michigan automotive suppliers have started assessing how a Donald Trump presidency could affect their industry. 

GRAND RAPIDS — When hackers shut down popular websites including Twitter and Spotify in October, they enlisted myriad devices, ranging from coffee makers and appliances to webcams, to carry out the attack. 

KALAMAZOO — When Folia Water Inc. sought to partner with a paper manufacturer to advance its water filtration technology from the initial proof of concept phase, the company faced a dilemma. 

While West Michigan may lack the depth of resources and talent that some regions of the country possess when it comes to the medical device industry, it may have one key advantage: the affordability of its contract manufacturing. 

HOLLAND — Stepping into the showroom at Cento Anni LLC is a sensory experience. 

ZEELAND — The talent crunch has created a conundrum for many West Michigan manufacturers. 

GALESBURG — After more than 50 years operating in the same building, Impact Label Corp. has relocated its headquarters from Kalamazoo to Galesburg. 

As waves of baby boomers continue to reach retirement age, many have faced the prospect of selling the manufacturing companies they’ve built over the years. 

CHARLOTTE — Spartan Motors Inc. has landed on the short list for a potentially large government contract to make the next generation of delivery vehicles for the United States Postal Service. 

HOLLAND — As robotic technology continues to improve, manufacturers of automation equipment are finding their customers demand larger, more complex systems.

The automotive industry has been very good for West Michigan, in spite of the challenges that it has dished up for component suppliers over the last several decades. 

Editor’s note:
 
After more than 13 years of writing the Auto Focus column for MiBiz, Melissa Anderson plans to retire as a columnist, effective immediately, as she winds down her storied career in automotive analysis and research. In the short term, she and her husband plan to travel in the Southern Hemisphere. “I have enjoyed writing the column and it has been a good long run,” Anderson said. Anderson’s business intelligence on the automotive industry will be missed. “Melissa was our ideal business columnist because she was able to talk with a lot of knowledge about trends in the global automotive industry while also providing a lot of local context, examples and data,” said MiBiz Publisher Brian Edwards. MiBiz will continue its search for a new automotive/manufacturing columnist throughout the coming months.

BATTLE CREEK — Concerns over national security could spark wider access to a $100 billion industry for West Michigan manufacturers.

GRANT — When Porous Pave Inc. began in 2008, the manufacturer of permeable paving technology had trouble tapping into the commercial market. 

Page 7 of 9