DETROIT - Automotive supplier Lacks Enterprises Inc. will invest $40 million in a two-phase expansion plan that calls for new assembly and distribution facilities and a corporate engineering center. Lacks, a supplier of exterior automotive trim based in Grand Rapids, Mich., broke ground Sept. 18 on the first phase of the project: a 150,000-square-foot distribution center and a 110,000-square-foot assembly plant. Products will move between the two buildings along a 40-by-150- foot connector tunnel. Work is scheduled to wrap up by August 1997.
Later this year, or in early 1997, Lacks plans to break ground on the second phase: an engineering center to house parts designers and other engineers. The Lacks technical staff currently is housed in three separate buildings and is looking to move into the new center late next year.
The company also purchased a 43-acre parcel in suburban Grand Rapids, boosting its total holdings at the site to 75 acres, to accommodate future expansions. Because of expected growth in its automotive business later this decade, Lacks is looking at expansion of both its injection molding and electroplating capacity, spokesman Marty Fahey said.
``We know we will need additional capacity but the decision has not been made to go forward yet,'' he said.
Lacks was 12th in Plastics News' 1996 ranking of North America's largest injection molders with related sales of $213 million. The company employs more than 1,500 at 12 plants in Michigan and one in Fountain Inn, S.C.
For the latest expansion, Lacks was offered financial incentives from Michigan and South Carolina. Executive Vice President Richard Lacks Jr. said the economic package offered by Michigan ``was hard to resist'' and surpassed the South Carolina incentive package.
Lacks is receiving a tax credit worth an estimated $5.5 million from the Michigan Economic Growth Authority, a state office that assists business expansions. Lacks will use the credit to reduce its liability under Michigan's Single Business Tax. Between the expansion plan and expected growth in its automotive business, Lacks estimates it will create about 200 new jobs in the next three years.
The company molds, paints and electroplates decorative exterior trim for a variety of domestic and foreign automakers. One of Lacks' fastest-growing products is truck grilles, which it makes for the Ford Explorer, Dodge Ram and Dodge Dakota. Plastic wheel covers and body side moldings are also a major product category. The firm also molds products for the computer, telecommunications, plumbing and appliance industries.