GREENVILLE — Three weeks ago, Greenville industry received a much-needed shot in the arm when a plastic injection molding supplier announced a major investment.
DME Co. (formerly Detroit Mold Engineering) and its parent company, Milacron LLC, which is headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, is investing $5 million — and up to 70 new jobs — at its Greenville facility at 1117 E. Fairplains St. DME previously purchased Master Unit Die Products Inc. (MUD), including Greenville’s Fairplains Street facility, in 1998.
The news came hand-in-hand with the closing of the company’ s Youngwood, Pennsylvania, facility, as those productions will be consolidated to the Greenville location.
That is a process that residents of Greenville and the surrounding area are all too familiar with after the closing of Electrolux in 2006, when nearly 4,000 workers lost their jobs as the company moved its productions to Mexico.
To see a company such as Milacron go in the opposite direction and bring additional production to Michigan leaves residents asking, ‘why Greenville?”
The Daily News interviewed Milacron DME President and General Manager President Peter Smith and DME Head of Operations for North America Russel Golemba, who explained the parent company’s decision to expand production locally.
According to Smith, the decision came down to three factors: People, customers and partnerships.
“We believe innovation is central to what we do, and we’ve identified Greenville as one of our innovation centers upon which we’re going to grow,” Smith said. “The biggest issue at the end of the day is finding people who we can bring in and develop. We felt that we had the right leadership and the right skills already in place in Greenville, with a dedicated workforce that was proven to deliver good results.”
Smith said the state of Michigan is part of a “plastics hub,” in combination with Ohio and the Windsor, Ontario, area. That factor led to a desire to keep a presence in Michigan.
“You have to have customers, and Michigan is a perfect location for a facility like ours,” Smith said. “It’s a bit of a hotbed of plastics processing, in the center of the market, and we felt it was in close proximately to our customers.”
Smith said the efforts of The Right Place, the Montcalm Economic Alliance and the Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC) helped convince company leaders to establish a greater presence in Greenville.
“The work of the MEDC and Kathy Jo VanderLaan and her team (at The Right Place), to show us that the state and the town of Greenville would be accommodating and welcoming of new opportunities, hospitality, and third, good business acumen — that gave us confidence that this was a good place to make an investment,” he said.
Smith said the investment by the company was likely “just a start,” with more to come in the future.
“This is a journey of growth, not a one-off event,” he said. “The first thing — the critical thing — was making the decision, and this is it, this is home. Then you start a series of phased activities, the first being the $5 million investment. It’s not just an immediate offering of jobs. We are now a cog in an overall spectrum, that the state of Michigan has built more capability to ride the plastics phenomena.”
The MEDC is supporting the new development with the approval of a $490,000 Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant depending on the number of jobs created. In addition, the city of Greenville is considering the approval of a PA 198 local tax abatement in support of the project.
Smith said Milacron serves as the only remaining U.S. manufacturer of plastics processing equipment and anticipates a growing presence in Greenville will lead to greater things for the community as a whole.
“When a company makes an investment, there’s a series of jobs that follow — a spinoff to the community,” he said. “We’re already engaged with local suppliers on added services. That means more work for the region.”
According to Golemba, changes to the facility will cover nearly every aspect of production, ranging from people, processing and equipment.
“It’s an exciting time,” he said. “Instead of wall bumping (exterior expansion), we’re moving equipment around, everything inside is being reconfigured. It’s bringing the latest technologies to Greenville.”
Golemba said a number of new employees have already been hired since the initial announcement, and more positions are being created. Positions range from high-level CNC operators, maintenance, shipping and receiving clerk, machinists and mold base assemblers.
“We will train from the ground up,” Golemba said. “You don’t need a plastics background to apply, we have jobs in-between. Here, you hit the ground running. How bad do you want it, and how far do you want to go? You can make good money in this business. These are good paying jobs.”
According to Tim Mroz, vice president of marketing and communications for The Right Place, Milacron’s decision to consolidate in Greenville showcases the community’s commitment to advocate that the city and surrounding county is always worth considering.
“No one is going to advocate for Greenville but Greenville,” Mroz said. “When you have a company that is based in four or five states and seven or eight countries … if you didn’t have groups like the Montcalm Economic Alliance, there would be an absence of a voice advocating for what you have here.”
Smith concurred that communication between Milacron, The Right Place and the Montcalm Economic Alliance was key in regards to the decision to stay in Greenville, and he hopes to be able to celebrate with employees and members of the community well into the future.
“There was an opportunity here, but also a risk … they put all of their energy into making it happen, and here we are,” he said. “We offer benefits and a progressive work environment where the voice of the employees matters, because it helps drive change and improvement.”