Keeler, Belwith Reorganized

April 14, 2006
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GRAND RAPIDS — A pair of historic West Michigan brands has been absorbed into a new Tennessee-based company.

Keeler Brass Co., a designer and producer of decorative hardware for the OEM furniture and cabinet markets in Grand Rapids, and Belwith International Ltd., a formerly Grandville-based supplier of hardware for cabinetry, security, door and bath, have been in the midst of a consolidation for the better part of a decade.

Both are wholly-owned by British engineering conglomerate FKI plc. In recent years, the majority of West Michigan operations consolidated into Keeler’s two plants in Grand Rapids at 955 Godfrey Ave. SW and 236 Stevens St. SW.

A third Keeler plant at 2929 32nd St. SE in Kentwood was spun off as FKI Automotive. It was later renamed Trident Automotive Lighting and sold to a private equity group. It has changed ownership several times since then.

The Keeler manufacturing facilities, specifically the Stevens plant, were the subject of a lengthy court dispute with the UAW in the late 1990s, eventually drawing sanctions by the National Labor Relations Board.

Shortly thereafter, Keeler announced it would close its West Michigan manufacturing operations and lay off 120 employees.

Now, it appears those jobs have moved to Tennessee. FKI has announced it will unite Keeler Brass, Belwith, Faultless Caster (an Indiana-based maker of casters and mobility products), Madico Inc. (a Massachusetts maker of floor and window protection products), and Wisconsin door-maker Wright Products.

The new company will be known as Hickory Hardware, and will be headquartered in Portland, Tenn., with limited operations in Grand Rapids and Rice Lake, Wis.

John Pelka, former president of Belwith, will serve as vice president of marketing for Hickory Hardware. Andy Fedor, former president of Keeler, is now the vice president of decorative hardware.    

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