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Street Talk: Benteler Automotive closing Hall Street plant early next year

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June 14, 2013
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Benteler Automotive is announcing plans to close its manufacturing plant located at 320 Hall Street in Grand Rapids. Current plans are for the facility to continue operation throughout the rest of the calendar year and early into 2014, as equipment is transferred to other operations in Michigan and Indiana.

Earlier this year, Benteler Automotive, which is based in Paderborn, Germany, announced that it was strategically repositioning all of its global manufacturing operations. Initial analysis indicated that as many as four to five manufacturing operations would likely be closed globally. After extensive evaluation, Benteler’s Hall Street facility was identified as one of the plants to be closed in North America. Earlier in May, Benteler also announced plans to close another of its North American operations in Opelika, Ala.

According to a statement issued by Benteler’s Maryam Komejan, company officials did not make the decision in haste.

“We have been studying our manufacturing footprint in (North America) intensively for several months to support our global strategy and to streamline our manufacuting footprint,” said Otto Buschsieweke, executive vice president for Benteler NA. “The decisions we are making now are critical to maintaining and strengthening our ability to support Benteler’s NA customers long-term. This decision clearly has an unsettling impact on our associates at Hall Street — we are very sensitive to that. We are committed to working closely with the UAW, as their representative, throughout the decision and bargaining process to develop a solid plan of support for our people in the weeks ahead.”

Benteler Automotive currently employs 22,000, has 20 development and sales offices around the world, and 74 plants in 29 countries. It develops and produces complete system modules and product components for the automotive industry, producing critical components for vehicle bodies, chassis, and engines. Its products contribute strongly to the safety and efficiency of vehicles while also reducing their weight/environmental footprint. One recent innovation that Benteler is offering its customers is the lightweight integrated manifold design in production today for modern automotive engines.

Benteler Automotive belongs to the internationally operating Benteler Group — a global holding group comprised of Benteler Automotive, Benteler Steel/Tube, and Benteler Distribution. The Benteler Group employs 30,000 at 170 locations in 28 countries. The company is privately held and has been in operation for over 135 years.

That’s a big 10-4

Who needs bands and floats? What a true Labor Day parade needs is businesses — and the bigger, the better.

Or, more accurately, the bigger the truck, the better.

The annual Holland/Zeeland Community Labor Day Truck Parade has become something of an unusual sensation on the lakeshore. More than 50 big rigs representing commerce in the Holland/Zeeland area motor through town and end up in the parking lot of Holland’s Civic Center, where everybody eats hotdogs and ice cream.

“These big rigs bring the noise as they begin in downtown Zeeland and roll through Holland’s Eighth Street,” said Carla Flanders, event director.

But the Sept. 2 event only has so many spots available. Plus, only companies that are located in the Holland/Zeeland area or employ people from the area or at least distribute to the area, are allowed to participate. Interested companies can register at www.truckparade.org by clicking on the “participate” tab and paying a $50 entry fee. But be warned: You better have a pretty sweet ride to make the cut.

Land rush

Word on the street is that the Michigan State University Board of Trustees will be voting this week on a plan for the former Grand Rapids Press building at the corner of Michigan Street and Monroe Avenue NE. Trustees also are expected to unveil a plan for all of the university’s real estate holdings in downtown Grand Rapids.

Airport joins Twitter

Gerald R. Ford International Airport is now on Twitter.

The airport announced that it has joined the popular social media site and will use the handle @FlyGRFord.

The airport acknowledged the large audience Twitter has amassed and its usefulness as a social media tool. The airport already operates a Facebook page.

“This is another way, in today’s social media environment, for us to proactively reach out to our customers to ensure we are providing the best service possible at GFIA,” said Executive Director Brian Ryks.

Customers can follow @FlyGRFord for updates on airport events and projects. GFIA also will monitor the site for feedback during regular business hours as a way to stay ahead of customer concerns.

Watch this

One of the region’s oldest manufacturers became one the latest to be honored as a Michigan 50 Companies to Watch.

Marshall Plastic Film of Martin, just east of Allegan, was recognized as a legitimate up-and-comer at the ninth annual Michigan Celebrates Small Business event held late last month in Lansing.

Marshall Plastic Film, founded in 1927 by A. Marshall Forsberg, makes polyethylene and polypropylene film and bags for a wide variety of industries, including the automotive and pharmaceutical fields. The company has developed a growing reputation for coming up with innovative bulk packaging solutions for its customer base.

“This award is a true honor and is recognition of the hard work supplied by the entire Marshall Plastic Film team,” said John Roggow, the firm’s president, in a statement.

“A major test of the team’s dedication came after the 2009 recession when the ‘specialized response’ focus kept the company vibrant as an employer, an important part of the local community and a continuing resource for its customers. This award validates everyone’s efforts,” Roggow added.

Forsberg is still the company’s majority shareholder.

Other West Michigan companies on this year’s list include APEC, Gazelle Sports, Genemarkers, Ideomed, ITB Packaging, Micron Mfg Inc., Mindscape at Hanon McKendry, Newmind Group Inc., Nobis Agri Science Inc., PRO-VISION Video Systems, QST Consultations Ltd., Supermercado Mexico and TerraTrike.

The Michigan Small Business & Technology Development Center, headquartered at Grand Valley State University, began the annual award with the Michigan Economic Development Corp., U.S. Small Business Administration, Small Business Administration of Michigan, Greater Lansing Business Monthly and Edward Lowe Foundation.

Melissa Angel, an MISBTDC small-business consultant, nominated Marshall Plastic Film for the award after helping develop the company’s most recent strategic plan, designed to continue the firm’s growth in the pharmaceutical industry. In turn, the industry has recognized Marshall Plastic Film as its premier provider.

Companies that make the “50 to Watch” list must have from six to 99 full-time employees and generate from $750,000 to $50 million in annual revenue or working capital from investors or grants. The 2013 winners were chosen by judges from the entrepreneurship development, economic development, industrial, banking and venture capital arenas.

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