Newsmaker: X-Rite

January 8, 2007
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GRAND RAPIDS — By the end of this month, X-Rite Inc.’s move from Grandville to Kentwood is expected to be complete, spokesman Will Holland said.

The company’s investment of $24 million in the former Bosch plant at 4300 44th St. SE, coupled with a major acquisition of its largest competitor, earned the company a finalist’s spot for the Business Journal Newsmaker of the Year Award.

X-Rite also intends to spend $20.5 million in capital equipment purchases over the next five years. The company, the leading firm in the color management industry, will occupy 350,000 square feet of the 900,000-square-foot building. The move was announced in 2005 and began last month after renovations.

The company employs 440 in Grand Rapids and expects to create 313 new jobs over five years.

Economic incentives included a Single Business Tax credit valued at $10.6 million, employee training assistance, and a property tax abatement from the city of Kentwood worth $2.3 million over 12 years.

The site X-Rite is leaving behind at 3100 44th St. SW had 152,000 square feet. The company has sold its Grandville site to Target Corp.

In July, X-Rite completed a purchase of competitor Amazys Holding AG, working under the brand GretagMacbeth, for $280 million in cash, debt and X-Rite stock. Doing business in 100 countries, the company’s European headquarters is in Regensdorf, Switzerland, and its Asia Pacific headquarters is in Hong Kong.

Also during 2006, Michael C. Ferrara retired as CEO. In a planned succession, Thomas J. Vacchiano Jr. of GretagMacbeth has become X-Rite CEO. As COO, Jeff Smolinski has been deeply involved in the company’s move to Kentwood.

Kentwood Mayor Richard Root said he was disappointed in 2003 when Robert Bosch Corp. announced it was closing its Kentwood plant and cutting 1,200 jobs. But Root was determined to make life easier for companies looking to locate in the suburb, which hosts the long stretch of Patterson Avenue leading to the Gerald R. Ford International Airport.

“Maybe it’s just hype: ‘Open for Business.’ But if you say it enough, you start to believe it and that creates fact,” Root said in 2006. Root, who has lived in Kentwood since 1975, was appointed mayor in 2002.

Today, nearly 60 percent of Kentwood tax revenue comes from industry and commerce.

X-Rite provides software and hardware for color processes in many industries, including graphic arts, medical, digital imaging, and industrial and retail color matching.    

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