Genzink Steel Opens New Plant

October 7, 2005
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HOLLAND — Despite rising steel costs and past economic hardships, Genzink Steel is expanding.

The 44-year-old company has re-opened a plant owned by Johnson Steel in Sanford. The plant, which closed two years ago, is in operation with more than half a dozen employees  — with plans for about 25 employees by the end of the year, said Steve Andree, Genzink’s chief operating officer.

“It’s a new adventure for us,” he said.

In 2003, Genzink experienced layoffs and downsizing before slowly recovering, passing its former size and now expanding, with plans for the Sanford plant as well as 15 new employees at Genzink’s Holland plant.

“The economy has changed such in the last year, year and a half, that we’ve exceeded the capacity in the existing plant both in space and manpower,” Andree said.

Though the original thought was to build an addition to the plant in Holland, Andree said there was a population of skilled workers who had lost their jobs when Johnson Steel closed in Sanford. Andree worked at Johnson Steel for eight years before moving to Genzink in 2002.

“I knew they had a whole base of qualified workers up there,” he said. “We hired back seven or eight of the employees that used to work for Johnson Steel.”

Genzink currently has a long-term lease with the option to buy with Ron Johnson, owner of Johnson Steel.

The company currently employs 160 people in Holland, including administration.

Andree said one of the reasons the company has been able to expand is because they have diversified their product, fabricating structured steel for building as well as for mining and railroad equipment.

“The diversity has helped us through the hard economic times,” he said.

Though plans for an addition to the Holland plant were put on hold, Andree said development should take place over the next few years as the company continues structured growth. Land around the Holland site is owned by the company and can be used for expansion.

“You’re always in some kind of motion,” he said of the company. “We always want to keep a positive growth model going forward.”

Andree said he believes there is a moderate to slow recovery in the steel industry, despite the rising cost of steel. Companies in West Michigan have been busy, and working together to fill orders.

“We’re competitors, but we try to work together as businesses, too,” he said.

Andree said the company is now cautiously optimistic about the future.

“We just hope everything holds,” he said.    

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