Construction, Economic Development, and Manufacturing

Automation supplier invests $1.5M in expansion

August 7, 2014
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Automation supplier invests $1.5M in expansion
Employees come together to mark the opening of the expansion at JR Automation Technologies in Holland. Courtesy Lakeshore Advantage

A diversified maker of custom automated equipment is opening the doors to a $1.5-million expansion to meet customer demand.

JR Automation Technologies in Holland said today that it has completed the 40,000-square foot expansion, at 12688 New Holland St.

The expansion will help the company serve various industries: automotive, construction, consumer products, food processing, furniture, medical, aerospace and pharmaceutical.

The company operates three locations in Holland and offices in Stevensville, south of Benton Harbor, and Pickens, S.C.

Scot Lindemann, vice president of JR Automation Technologies, said the growth of the business is a reflection of employee dedication.

“Our business has provided solutions to allow the manufacturing industry to roar back,” Lindemann said. “Our growth is a direct result of our employees’ ability to go above and beyond to meet the changing needs of our customers in a wide variety of industries.”

Regional partner

JR Automation Technologies partnered with Lakeshore Advantage in Zeeland, the regional economic development nonprofit, to assist in the planning of the expansion project.

Bryan Jones, chief operating officer at JR Automation Technologies, said the collaboration with Lakeshore Advantage was due to the company recognizing increased demand exceeded capacity.

“We just didn’t have the space,” Jones said. “So we put together a plan for expansion with the help of Lakeshore Advantage. Their advice and connections have been invaluable.”

Jennifer Owens, president of Lakeshore Advantage, said the nonprofit was pleased to work with the company on the project.

“This company is a true regional asset providing innovative process solutions to national and international manufacturers,” Owens said.

Contractor

Lakewood Construction in Holland was selected as general contractor and contacted earlier this spring with a mandatory completion date of Aug. 5.

Dave Ash, director of sales and marketing at Lakewood Construction, said there was a bit of a relationship between Lakewood and JR Automation Technologies prior to the project.

“You always are excited about new customers, and we have done some work for JR in the past, more small interior work, and through that, we have developed a relationship and trust with each other that led to them hiring us and us partnering together for this addition,” Ash said.

Construction hurdle

With the groundbreaking around April and four months to complete the project, Lakewood Construction subcontracted Lamar Construction to help erect the steel required in the new plant.

When Lamar filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in July before the project was completed, Lakewood Construction’s own steel erection crew worked in the evenings and the following weekend to maintain schedule.

Some of the staff at Lamar who were working on the project were also transferred over to Lakewood Construction’s temporary payroll to finish the expansion on time.

“Our reaction to that was it was fast and furious to figure out how we are going to maintain the schedule, because every day mattered — we couldn’t afford to lose a day, let alone three or four days,” Ash said.

Despite the challenge, Ash said there was roughly only one day lost in the scramble.

JR’s Lindemann said Lakewood Construction is an example of the West Michigan culture to do the right thing.

“We could not have completed this project without Lakewood’s willingness to step in and step up,” Lindemann said. 

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