Established businesses are expanding in Bay County, creating new jobs and pumping millions into the economy.
In recent months, Vantage Plastics, based in Standish; Bay Carbon Inc., based at 800 Marquette Ave.; and Mersen USA, based at 900 Harrison St., each have announced plans for growth.
Combined, the three firms are investing more than $100 million and creating nearly 200 jobs in Bay County.
Vantage Plastics investing $31 million and creating 93 jobs in Bangor Township
based in Standish, is reaching into Bay County’s Bangor Township with a nearly $31 million expansion project expected to create 93 jobs.
Vantage Plastics, a custom thermoformer headquartered in Standish, is investing about $30.9 million into a long-empty building. Before the expansion, the company employed more than 300 people.
Thermoforming is a plastic manufacturing process that stretches sheets of heated thermoplastic material over engineered molds to create shapes or parts. Vantage Plastics, which opened in 1996, provides thermoforming for automotive and consumer goods industries.
Paul Aultman, President of Vantage Plastics, says the firm looked all over the country before choosing Bangor Township for its new site.
Concerns about access to energy made it impractical to expand the company footprint in Standish.
“As we talked about that, we looked at other states,” Aultman says.
But Don Hale, who heads up Mergers, Acquisitions, and Emerging Technologies for Vantage, looked just a little way down the road and found a long empty, rundown building on Wilder Road that could work.
“When you first walk into it, you say ‘Holy smokes!’, but we kept looking at it,” Aultman says.
After some thought, Aultman and his team realized several advantages to the Bangor Township location. First, the building moves Vantage closer to its customers in Southeast Michigan. Second, it makes it possible to recruit employees from the Thumb and mid-Michigan. Third, Bangor Township is a short drive from Standish, meaning its possible to flex employees from one location to the other.
The seven-acre lot also is big enough to accommodate future expansion.
“A lot of our projects run large, so it doesn’t take long to fill up a space. This gives us a lot of opportunity to grow,” he says.
Renovations have begun.
“There will be a new roof, new sides, new doors … other than the frame, the skeleton of the place, it’ll be completely new,” Aultman says.
Even before the renovations are completed, work inside the facility has begun. Vantage moved nine injection molding machines to the Bangor Township site and is ready to get a large, thermoforming machine out of storage and into use.
“Our plan is by sometime in the last quarter of this calendar year to start fairly significant production,” Aultman says.
With the growth comes the need for more employees. Aultman says Vantage already is hiring and training new colleagues. Aultman never uses the word employees, though. Instead, he calls everyone his colleague.
The onboarding process at Vantage includes instruction in both job skills and life skills.
“In an effort to better prepare our colleagues for work, we have them take a look at themselves and their goals and aspirations,” Aultman says. “It’s as much for their home life as their work life.”
In Standish, the training center gives people the chance to work with equipment and hone their skills before going into the manufacturing center.
The goal of the extensive training is to reduce turnover, which helps Vantage weather the nationwide shortage of employees.
“Every class that comes in, our leadership team meet with them immediately,” Aultman says.
He talks to his new colleagues about making life decisions with care.
“One of our core values is opportunity will drive you forward,” Aultman says.
“We hope you’re here permanently and you make a career out of this. But if you don’t, we want to help you grow and go someplace else where you can make a career. That’s one of our core values. Life has so many opportunities and so many decisions.”
The project is supported by a $1.2 million Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant.
“The expansion of Vantage Plastics in beautiful Bangor Township is monumental for our community,” says Bangor Township
Supervisor Glenn Rowley.
The building is probably best known as a former Dow Chemical Co. facility on East Wilder road. For a decade or so, it's been used as a storage facility.
"It’s going to provide more jobs - nice, good manufacturing jobs. The kind we look for," Rowley says.
He's pleased to see crews already at work on the 325,000-square-foot facilkty.
“We’re looking forward to seeing the impact Vantage Plastics will have on this industrial area and the potential it will create for future development of the area," Rowley says.
Bangor Township anticipates approving a property tax abatement for Vantage.
For information on careers, visit the Vantage Plastics website
“Vantage Plastics is a leader in their industry and because of that fact they have had more than one opportunity to expand their business elsewhere,” says Trevor Keyes, President & CEO of Bay Future Inc.
“This project was no exception. Their decision to grow their business here in the region, and specifically in Bay County, is a testament to the resources we have here and their commitment to their employees and this community.”
Bay Carbon investing $1.6 million, creating 20 jobs
Bay Carbon Inc. is expanding its facility with a $1.6 million investment. The plan is to add a 10,00-square-foot building next to its 800 Marquette Ave. facility. The expansion is expected to create 20 new jobs.
“The last year has been monumental for our growth as a business as we work with industries experiencing explosive growth. It’s critical that we’re able to expand our physical footprint to show our commitment to satisfy the needs of our customers and we appreciate the support of those who have helped make this project happen,” Thomas Clare, President of Bay Carbon Inc. said in a Bay Future Inc. news release.
The expansion consists of a $1.1 million investment in the building and $500,000 for equipment. Construction is slated to begin later this year. The project will double the company’s workforce as well as increase internal opportunities for current employees.
Bay Carbon provides materials for the semiconductor and compound semiconductor industries as well as spectroscopic analysis and specialty metals. The products made by Bay Carbon are tied to LEDs which are made from semiconductor materials. The process involves very high heat and graphite plates. Bay Carbon makes the graphite plates.
In addition to supporting Michigan’s semiconductor industries, Bay Carbon also has customers located on the East and West Coast. The company initially had the opportunity to expand out of state but was committed to maintain its presence in Bay City.
“Based on the historical growth of the business locally and existing industry opportunities, we believe Bay Carbon, Inc. will prosper in their expanded Bay City location. It was important for us to secure the company to our community as they play a major role in Bay City’s legacy of manufacturing,” Keyes says.
Bay Future assisted Bay Carbon with the tax abatement and permitting processes, as well as providing information and assistance with regional training resources. The economic development organization worked with partners at both the City of Bay City and at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation to secure Bay Carbon in Bay City and within the State of Michigan.
Mersen USA investing $70 million and creating 70 jobs in Bay City
Global advanced materials manufacturer Mersen USA
is expanding in Bay City and Greenville. The state-wide project is expected to generate a total capital investment of $81.2 million and create 115 jobs in semiconductor and silicon chip materials manufacturing.
The project includes a $70 million investment in Bay City, which is expected to create 70 new jobs.
Mersen USA GS Corp. is a subsidiary of Le Carbone Lorraine, a France-based global leader in electrical specialties and advanced materials for high-tech industries. Mersen employs a total of 304 people at its Michigan locations.
The company has seen dramatic growth and increasing demand for its graphite products that are used to manufacture silicon chips and semiconductors, given the rapidly expanding electrification and technology involved in electric vehicles.
The company plans to expand at its Bay City location at 900 Harrison St. by acquiring more than five acres of land and constructing four buildings to house new manufacturing space.
In addition, four existing buildings will be rehabilitated and expanded. The planned work includes the addition of a technical center.
The company chose Michigan for the project over a competing site in Tennessee because of the quality of the materials currently being manufactured at its existing Michigan facilities.
Applications are available on the Mersen USA website.