Montcalm County manufacturing growth slow but steady

By Kelli Ameling • Last Updated 12:06 pm on Tuesday, April 24, 2012

While touring the Parker Hannifin plant in Lakeview, Plant Manager Dave Remus, right, shows State Rep. Rick Outman, left, and James Freed, center, brass fittings that the plant produces. - Daily News/Kelli Ameling

The manufacturing industry is growing in Montcalm County.

Government officials toured county factories Friday to see how they can help the factories, as well as keep them here locally.

State Rep. Rick Outman, R-Six Lakes, and James Freed, village manager for Lakeview and city manager for Stanton, met with plant managers and owners of manufactures on a daylong tour of Montcalm County.

“We are still making things in Montcalm County,” Freed said.

During a tour at Wolverine World Wide in Howard City, State Rep. Rick Outman, left, and James Freed, right, listen to Shipping Supervisor Randy DeVries as he describes how shoes are stored and distributed.

Freed and Outman said they want to ensure local manufactures know there is an open line of communication and whether they can help.

“We don’t want to wait for the bad news (before we start visiting),” Freed said.

Outman said it is important for him as a citizen of Montcalm County to see what and how local manufactures are operating.

“We are not only open for business,” said Outman. “We are doing business.”

Freed and Outman visited Parker Hannifin in Lakeview, Wolverine World Wide in Howard City, A & O Forklifts in Edmore and Merson in Greenville.

“What we are hearing is that manufacturing in Montcalm County is growing at a slow, steady rate,” Freed said. “The people of Montcalm County are fighters. They are fighting hard to lead today while building tomorrow.”


Parker Hannifin

Parker Hannifin is the world’s leading diversified manufacture of motion and control technologies and systems, according to its website. They provide precision-engineered solutions for a wide variety of commercial, mobile, industrial and aerospace markets.

According to Plant Manager Dave Remus, Parker Hannifin employs 125 to 130 employees.

“Parker Hannifin is Lakeview’s largest employer,” noted Freed.

The company makes about 300,000 pieces of brass fittings per day and uses about 60,000 pounds of brass per day.

The company partners with local companies in Belding and Edmore to help with every day productions.

Remus said Parker Hannifin makes products that last a long time and that people want to use.

“We are known for our quality, not for our price,” Remus said.


Wolverine World Wide

Wolverine World Wide is a shoe manufacturer that distributes shoes around the world. Its brands include Hush Puppies, Merrell and Chaco. The company is licensed with companies such as Harley-Davidson Footwear.

According to Shipping Supervisor Randy DeVries, the 600,000-square-foot facility in Howard City makes about 55,000 pairs of shoes per day during peak operations.

Wolverine World Wide employs about 120 employees, according to DeVries.

“We are definitely growing,” he said.


A & O Forklift

James Freed, the village manager of Lakeview and city manager of Stanotn, tries out a Hummerbee at A & O Forklifts in Edmore while owner Brian Kulling supervises.

A & O Forklift is a manufacturer and distributer of Hummerbee Turbo and extra large forklifts out of Edmore.

Owner Brian Kulling said the plant specializes in forklifts for beekeeping, although the equipment can be used for other things.

On average, the company sells Hummerbees for about $35,000 each.

The company employs about 20 people but is currently growing and expanding.

The company makes about four products per week, according to Kulling, Most products are built to order.

“The future is looking bright for this company,” Freed said. “This is the future of Michigan. It’s what we are trying to do in reinventing Michigan.”


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