N-K BUILDING $10.5 MILLION MOLDING PLANT

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ALLENDALE, MICH. — Nicholas Plastics Inc., a supplier of profile extrusions and moldings to the automotive and office furniture industry, said it will invest $10.5 million to build a plant this year for its N-K Manufacturing Technologies Inc. injection molding subsidiary.

At the same time, Nicholas plans to expand its compounding and colorants operations.

The 2-year-old N-K occupies a 20,000-square-foot plant in Grand Rapids, Mich. By year's end, the molder plans to be in a new, 35,000-square-foot building adjacent to Nicholas headquarters in Allendale, west of Grand Rapids.

N-K, which specializes in insert molding, expects sales to reach $6 million in 1997, a threefold increase over last year. The firm employs 28, running four shifts per day, seven days a week to supply moldings to the automotive, office furniture and appliance industries.

``Between the new business we've received from customers and our growth plans, we need to move,'' said Terry J. Nicholas, who is N-K's chief executive officer and vice president of sales at Nicholas Plastics.

N-K operates six vertical and horizontal injection presses with clamping forces of 90-500 tons. The expansion will require N-K to add four or five more molding machines in 1998 within the same tonnage range or higher, he said.

To date, N-K has purchased new Cincinnati Milacron presses with closed-loop process controls. But Nicholas said it is too early to discuss which vendor will supply its new presses.

For the expansion, N-K also was awarded a $6.6 million tax credit under a program administered by the Michigan Economic Growth Authority. The MEGA credits are spread out over 20 years and require participating companies to create an agreed-upon number of jobs.

Strong growth projections also are driving expansions at two other Nicholas businesses: compounder Vi-Chem Corp. and colorants producer Vichem Color Inc.

Vi-Chem, which operates six extrusion lines with a total capacity of about 40 million pounds a year, will add one and possibly two new lines this year, said Leonard Slott, vice president and general manager. The company is adding a new, 6-inch extruder this month, its third 6-inch machine.

To make room for the Vi-Chem expansion, Vichem Color is vacating 20,000 square feet of space in the 100,000-square-foot Grand Rapids plant currently shared by the companies.

``We need the space and Vichem Color needs space to expand,'' Slott said.

By September, Vichem Color will move to Byron Center, Mich., a Grand Rapids suburb, where it either will occupy a 25,000-square foot building owned by the company or put up a new facility. The firm, with three extrusion lines, plans to add two more this year.

Slott declined to disclose sales figures, but said both Vi-Chem and Vichem Color expect to double their business this year.