Work Ethic Secures Siemens

October 6, 2006
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HOLLAND — Power plants throughout the world soon will be able to thank Holland-area workers for the cleanliness of their water supply.

Siemens Water Technology Corp. in Holland has been awarded a new product line of intake screens, which filter the water that is used by power plants for cooling. The facility will be expanding with an investment of $3 million and the addition of 80 jobs over the next three years, said General Manager Ken Hollidge.

The product line was formerly produced at a facility in Madison, Ind. The Holland facility competed with a plant in Georgia for the new line. Hollidge said Siemens was able to get the company’s attention with its ISO certification and its employees’ commitment to improving productivity in the facility.

“We’ve been working for three years on a continuous improvement program in reducing our overall costs,” he said. “Once that happened, I think it got the attention of Siemens Water Technology in Pittsburgh.”

The company’s work force greatly contributed to the effort of bringing the new product line to Holland, Hollidge said.

“I came out of the Detroit area three years ago to take over the operation. What I have found is that people in Holland have a wonderful work ethic,” he said. “In order to be successful, in order to stay in western Michigan, they had to be working smarter.”

Hollidge said he also needed help from the state and local government, so he requested a Single Business Tax credit. If both Holland Charter Township and the state approve the credit, Hollidge said, the company will receive $1.5 million in tax credits during the next nine years.

“Because of the state making that decision and, hopefully, the Holland Charter Township, too, we have now been given this additional work that came out of Madison, Ind.,” he said.

The intake screens production will require some new machinery and space, Hollidge said, but the experience is already there.

“Right now we produce products that take water out of waste-water streams,” he said. “To take over this product line is not that difficult for us.”

Hollidge said part of the expansion will include machinery, cranes and a building addition of 27,000 square feet on the company’s current location. The space will be added as necessary. Hollidge said the work will also be phased in as more employees are hired and trained.

“It’s not something that’s going to happen immediately,” he said. “We have to wait until we bring this work force on and train them.”

The majority of the 80 jobs will be skilled trades positions in the shop, but there will also be some engineering and administrative positions added, Hollidge said.

Randy Thelen, president of economic development organization Lakeshore Advantage, said the investment is a tribute to the viability of the Holland and Zeeland area.

“It just shows that a company whose products are based on advanced engineering and a highly skilled labor force has a global market,” Thelen said. “Those attributes are all able to be met here in West Michigan.”

Thelen said the Siemens project is only part of the $83 million that is being invested in Holland and Zeeland, resulting in the creation of 480 new jobs in the area during 2006.    

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