Lean Leads To Nicholas Expansion

September 18, 2004
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ALLENDALE — If it weren’t for implementing lean practices, Nicholas Plastics Inc. probably wouldn’t be breaking ground next month for a major expansion of its Allendale manufacturing plant.

Terry Nicholas, the firm’s president and chief executive officer, said that securing a new five-year General Motors contract was the move that paved the way for the $18 million expansion project.

“And when they came here to see us,” he said of GM’s staffers, “they definitely brought their lean man with them.”

The key thing, he said, is that employing lean practices and best practices simply is indispensable to doing business in the automotive industry.

Nicholas is a Tier I through Tier III supplier, having worked with GM for a dozen years.

The construction on which Nicholas is to start in October will increase the size of its Allendale manufacturing plant by slightly over 70 percent to accommodate about 100 new jobs.

The plant will be enlarged from its current 155,000 square feet to 267,000 square feet. Nearly $14 million of the investment in the project will go for new equipment and technology.

In addition to being an automotive supplier, Nicholas also is a custom plastics manufacturer for the appliance and office industries and others.

The firm will begin hiring workers to fill the new job slots starting with the onset of the new contract in January 2006.

Another key to the project was receiving a Michigan Single Business Tax credit of $3.7 million from the Michigan Economic Development Corp. The credit will help the supplier offset construction and other expenses related to the expansion.

The project is one of eight for which the MEDC last week announced tax credits and which, according to Lansing, will lead to the direct and indirect creation of 4,000 jobs.

MEDC said, in fact, that the multiplier effect of 100 new jobs at Nicholas will lead to the creation of 260-plus other jobs in other sectors.

“We are very proud to have secured a new contract with General Motors that will allow us to significantly expand our presence in West Michigan,” Nicholas said.

He also thanked government agencies for their support

“We have received fast-track support to meet our aggressive time frame from AllendaleCharterTownship, the Ottawa County Economic Development Office and MEDC.

“This support, in combination with the high caliber of our local work force, will enable us to build a new state-of-the-art production facility that will enable us to compete efficiently on a global basis.

West Michigan has always been our home,” he added, “and we looked forward to continuing to grow right here.”

MEDC President and CEO Don Jakeway noted, “The MEDC is happy to partner with Nicholas Plastics in their plans to expand and create new jobs for families in the Allendale area.”

Nicholas Plastics will start producing molded and colored parts for new GM vehicles in 2006. 

According to Nicholas, the new contract represents a significant expansion of the company’s 12-year relationship providing exterior ornamental components to the auto manufacturer.

“Nicholas Plastics has grown substantially with General Motors over the past decade, and we are extremely pleased that they have chosen us to produce parts for several new vehicles,” Nicholas said. “We feel our capabilities in manufacturing molded and colored exterior ornamentation are unparalleled in the industry and look forward to serving GM with quality, cost-effective components.”

Nicholas Plastics currently employs more than 250 workers in the Allendale plant.

The firm also has injection-molding facilities in Grand Rapids and Monterrey, Mexico, and a technical sales center in Troy. Total employment at all Nicholas facilities currently exceeds 400 employees.

Nicholas specializes in extrusions and injection molding for automotive, office furniture, construction and appliance manufacturers.    

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