Manufacturing, Real Estate, and Technology

French manufacturer picks Grand Rapids for North American Innovation Center

January 20, 2016
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Hutchinson North American Innovation Center
A look inside the 13,400-square-foot Hutchinson North American Innovation Center in Grand Rapids. Courtesy Hutchinson

A Paris-based manufacturer unveiled today its new North American Innovation Center in Grand Rapids, which it hopes will lead to success in the automotive and aerospace industries.

The center by Hutchinson, which is celebrating 30 years in town, is also dubbed the 616 Fab House and resides on the recently renovated third floor of the company’s facility at 460 Fuller Ave. NE.

The center houses a mix of meeting rooms, videoconferencing technology, interactive showrooms with product and robotic displays, fabrication lab and 3D printer center and banquet facilities.

It will be used to support research, development and innovative thinking for all five of Hutchinson’s global divisions.

The company said advanced telepresence capabilities at the 616 Fab House provide an immersive experience. One room has a three-screen video monitor that gives participants the sensation that the person on the screen is sitting directly across from them.

“It is our intent to use the 616 Fab House as a place to connect using our state-of-the-art video and audio conferencing systems to bring customers together with Hutchinson’s global capabilities,” said Cedric Duclos, Hutchinson North America president and CEO.

He said the center will be used to foster “innovative thinking and brainstorming.”

Several meetings a month will occur at the 616 Fab House, to bring together customers with all of Hutchinson’s global technical resources in a space that encourages creativity.

Customers will have the opportunity to see products in action. The interactive product display area shows all products made by Hutchinson’s North American operations in their environmental use. For instance, there are replicas of an airplane fuselage, a full-size automobile and military tank treads with actual Hutchinson parts inserted.

Hutchinson is expected to hire a facility manager and additional staff to manage the center.

The third floor has 10,000 square feet of unused space remaining that the company said will likely be used to expand the Innovation Center.

This is the second Innovation Center that Hutchinson operates, with the other being the 507 Fab House, located in Montargis, France, near Hutchinson’s world headquarters.

The company chose Grand Rapids for its North American Innovation Center due to its central location to major clients and vendors and its 30-year history with the location. Grand Rapids was Hutchinson’s first location in the U.S.

Duclos also noted the area’s talent, as well as positive interactions with the city and The Right Place over the years for its continued commitment to the area.

The morning’s ribbon-cutting event included remarks from Jacques Maigne, Hutchinson global president and CEO, Duclos, Birgit Klohs, president and CEO of The Right Place, and a recorded video message from Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss.

Hutchinson’s global board of directors were also in attendance and will hold their first board meeting outside of France during the Grand Rapids visit.

Hutchinson’s 100-year-old Grand Rapids facility sits on 30 acres of land and includes 260,000 square feet of space spread over six inter-connected buildings. The facility focuses on developing, engineering and manufacturing noise, vibration and harshness systems for the automotive industry.

The company employs approximately 300 people locally.

Hutchinson has three other Michigan locations and a total of 100 locations globally.

“A global company like Hutchinson has many choices on where they can invest their resources,” Klohs said. “We are delighted that the company has chosen Grand Rapids as the new home for their North American Innovation Center.”

The new space formerly served as a storage area. It was constructed with Pinnacle Construction serving as general contractor and R.O.I. Design handling architectural and design services.  

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