By: Kerri Jansen
March 6, 2014
HOWELL, MICH. — Custom injection molder Thomson Plastics Inc. has opened a plant in Howell, Mich., the company’s first expansion beyond its home state of Georgia.
Thomson Plastics was drawn to the region because of its rich automotive sector, said Rick Kibbey, president and chief operating officer. Established in 1975, the company until recently made products for highly seasonal industries such as lawn and garden and golf carts, he said; expanding into automotive is part of the company’s effort to rid itself of that seasonality. And Kibbey is from Michigan with ties to automotive manufacturing, so establishing a plant there was a good fit, he said.
The Howell facility, formerly occupied by another plastics manufacturer, already had much of the necessary infrastructure for injection molding, making it an attractive choice financially, Kibbey said. The company was also able to bring in excess equipment it had left over from its prior consolidation in Georgia for further savings.
Thomson Plastics currently occupies 25,000 square feet of the facility on Parsons Road, with plans to expand. On Feb. 27, the company operated 4 presses ranging from 400 tons to 750 tons press capability, with a fifth press on the way and two more expected by June.
The company also plans to bring 46 new jobs to the area over two years, according to a March 11 news release from Ann Arbor SPARK, an economic development organization that helped Thomson apply for local financial incentives.
Thomson received a 50 percent property tax abatement from Howell Township and plans to invest $4 million over a two-year period, the release indicates.
The facility currently produces automotive seating components at a rate of about 4,000 pieces per week. Adding other products will be based on customer demand, Kibbey said.
“I can talk about what we want to do, but at the end of the day, we will do what the customers want us to do,” he said.
Thomson Plastics is a portfolio company of Connecticut investment firm Altus Capital Partners Inc. Its headquarters facility in Thomson, Ga., covers 200,000 square feet and operates 54 presses ranging from 165 to 3000 tons, according to its website.