Industries Expand Into Walker Parks

October 31, 2003
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WALKER — Call it a back-to-back two-fer, as two groundbreaking ceremonies were held last week within an hour of each other for a pair of new industrial projects on two properties owned by Robert Grooters Development Co. in the city of Walker.

Both sets of ceremonies struck a positive note for Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm. Granholm arrived in Walker late the same morning to break ground, so to speak, in the first of her administration’s Manufacturing Matters meetings with industrialists.

Her session took place less than a mile from the site of the first ground-breaking which, appropriately, was for a manufacturing plant.

Thierica Equipment, which produces automated paint systems, will move from Grand Rapids into its new 94,000-square-foot plant at 3147 N. Wilson Court in Walker next spring.

“The City of Walker’s ‘manufacturing-friendly’ approach to Thierica and Grooters Development has been very positive and much appreciated,” said Jim Stein, president of Thierica Inc.

Wolverine Building Group will manage the construction of the new facility.

About 74,000 square feet will be devoted to manufacturing, with 10,000 square feet each going to office space and a storage mezzanine.

The building, just off Three Mile Road and south of I-96, will feature plenty of glass and have a high-tech look to it.

Construction should be finished by April.

“We are building to suit and then they are buying it, which is what we are doing a lot more of than ever before,” said Pete Colvin, a broker with Grooters Development.

“If a company went out and bought their own land and built their own building it would cost them more than if we build it on our land.”

Colvin also sold Thierica’s building at 900 Clancy NE as part of the transaction.

“It was a pretty complicated deal that took me almost eight months,” he said.

“I had to find a buyer for the building that could wait eight months for Thierica’s new building to be built and have it all fall into place, and we were able to do that,” he added.

Wolverine Building and Baker Tent Rental are buying the building on Clancy. Baker Tent will move there in the spring after Thierica moves to Walker.

An hour after the Thierica groundbreaking, ground was broken for an expansion project at the Walker Ridge Industrial Park. There, Pioneer Construction will build a 150,000-square-foot addition to a 205,000-square-foot building owned by Grooters.

Rockford Acoustic Design, a division of Arizona-based Rockford Corp., will lease the entire 350,000 square feet from Grooters and move about 180 employees into the building in April.

Rockford Acoustic manufactures mobile, home and professional speakers for the company’s line of high-performance audio systems.

“The reason for their move was to consolidate and get everything all under one roof. And with Robert Grooters Development Co. they were able to do that,” said Natalie Amrhein, a broker with Grooters.

“They really wanted that flexibility because their whole idea was to consolidate,” Amrhein added.

“They were tucked into neighborhoods where they didn’t have any visibility or exposure before,” she said. “Another thing was that they wanted to be all on one floor for better efficiencies.”

Rockford Acoustic is expected to move from 609 Myrtle NW in Grand Rapids to its new Walker site, just north of I-96 and just west of Walker Avenue, next April.

Had a deal not been struck locally, Rockford Acoustics might have left the area for Tempe, Ariz., home of the Rockford Corp. Rockford is traded on NASDAQ under the symbol ROFO.  

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