GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - Benteler Automotive has announced it is closing a Grand Rapids manufacturing plant.
There are about 220 people employed at 320 Hall St. SW, a company spokesperson told 24 Hour News 8. Officials are deciding if the affected employees will be transferred or offered jobs at other locations in West Michigan, including Holland, Kalamazoo, and another in Grand Rapids.
The affected Grand Rapid facility will close in March 2014, as equipment is transferred to other operations in Michigan and Indiana.
During a news conference on Friday afternoon regarding the plant's closure, Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell said the news was a "very unwelcome surprise."
Earlier this year, Benteler Automotive, based in Paderborn, Germany, announced it was strategically repositioning all of its global manufacturing operations. Initial analysis indicated that as many as four to five manufacturing operations would likely be closed globally.
After extensive evaluation, Benteler's Hall Street facility was identified as one of the plants to be closed in North America, according to a news release. Earlier in May, Benteler also announced plans to close another of its operations in Opelika, Ala.
"We have been studying our manufacturing footprint in NA intensively for several months to support our global strategy and to streamline our manufacturing footprint. The decisions we are making now are critical to maintaining and strengthening our ability to support Benteler's NA customers long-term. This decision clearly has an unsettling impact on our associates at Hall Street -- we are very sensitive to that. We are committed to working closely with the UAW, as their representative, throughout the decision and bargaining process to develop a solid plan of support for our people in the weeks ahead," said Otto Buschsieweke, executive vice president for Benteler NA.
Benteler Automotive currently employs 22,000, has 20 development and sales offices around the world, and 74 plants in 29 countries. It develops and produces complete system modules and product components for the automotive industry, producing critical components for vehicle bodies, chassis and engines. Its products contribute strongly to the safety and efficiency of vehicles while also reducing their weight/environmental footprint.
One recent innovation that Benteler is offering its customers is the lightweight integrated manifold design in production today for modern automotive engines.
A driver escaped safely after its vehicle crashed into the Grand River in Ottawa County Friday morning.
We get a brief break from the "lake-effect machine" Friday.
A few flurries occurred Thursday night. Lows held in the teens and the wind relaxed to the 5 to 10 mph range, with 20s at the Lake Michigan.