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New molding firm Belmont Engineered Plastics opens in Michigan

By: Frank Antosiewicz

May 1, 2013

PLAINFIELD TOWNSHIP, MICH. — A start-up company, Belmont Engineered Plastics LLC, is establishing an injection molding operation at a former Kimberly-Clark Corp. factory near Grand Rapids, Mich.

"We're just excited to be there. We're looking forward to growing the plant," said David Schmid, vice president and secretary of Loudon, Tenn.-based Fort Defiance Industries Inc., which will be a sister company to Belmont Engineered Plastics.

Dallas-based Kimberly-Clark had planned to close the plant by June. It made work safety products such as safety flags, barricades and barrels. The company had announced in January that it was discontinuing that business and would close the factory, which it calls its Belmont Mill plant.

Fort Defiance is a Kimberly-Clark supplier. When company officials learned that the factory was shutting down, they investigated the opportunity.

Belmont Engineered Plastics is affiliated with Fort Defiance and another sister company, R&S Logistics Inc. of Lenoir City, Tenn. All three companies will remain separate entities, Schmid explained in a telephone interview.

Fort Defiance makes military medical items like water recovery systems and air compressors; R&S Logistics is a warehousing and logistics company.

Schmid said officials were impressed with the Plainfield Township area and the opportunity to be able to get into the injection molding business.

They also found state and local authorities to be accommodating. Belmont Engineered Plastics bought the 150,000-square-foot building and various assets in late March.

"It was all pretty seamless. We were down for about a week," he noted.

Belmont Engineered Plastics hired about 50 Kimberly-Clark workers, and it has promised to create 62 new jobs over the next three years. Terms of the deal were not released, but the new company is investing $5.5 million in machinery and the facility.

According to The Right Place Inc., a non-profit economic development agency, Belmont Engineered Plastics is receiving a $900,000 performance-based grant from the Michigan Business Development Program. It will also receive tax abatements from Plainfield Township.

Schmid said a key component of the deal was securing manufacturing contracts with Kimberly-Clark to continue making security products. The company also has other contracts, and is working to diversify its customer mix.

Belmont Engineered Plastics has 23 presses, in sizes up to 700 tons of clamping force. The company plans to invest in new machinery and molds.

Schmid added there are some synergies between their companies. R&S can provide warehousing and logistics. Fort Defiance can provide engineering and manufacturing help, while Belmont Engineered Plastics can provide plastic components for some Fort Defiance products.