MARINE CITY, MICH. — Construction crews have started clearing space for an 18,000-square-foot expansion to Fagerdala World Foams AB's North American headquarters in Marine City. A few miles to the north, work is about to begin on a 140,000-square-foot facility in Marysville, Mich. — a more than $12 million expansion to house future growth for the Swedish manufacturer.
In the year since Fagerdala set up shop in Marine City — buying out the former Pac-Lite Products Inc. 50 miles north of Detroit — the firm has seen only a growth in demand, Robert Burnside, business manager for Fagerdala-PacLite Inc., said in a June 2 interview.
"We have several global customers we're serving in other countries that have been waiting for us to start up in North America," he said. "A lot of the growth we're seeing is because of our global association."
Fagerdala will add four new lines at Marine City to mold expanded polystyrene and PS/polyphenylene oxide foams. The Marysville operation will focus on expanded polypropylene.
Fagerdala, based in Gustavsberg, Sweden, already had spread from Europe to South America and Asia, turning out molded foam for the automotive, construction, packaging and consumer product markets. It launched its North American unit with the February 1999 purchase of Pac-Lite, for an undisclosed price. Its 80 employees produce energy-absorption panels for the auto industry.
Fagerdala first planned to close the Marine City facility once the new operation opened in Marysville, but now plans to keep both plants open just to meet continued demand, Burnside said.
"We're just bursting at the seams here," he said.
If the auto industry continues on its blistering pace, it could expand the Marysville site within a few years, he added. North American automakers produced a record 16.9 million vehicles. Experts estimate production could hit 17 million this year.
The Michigan operation will mold and ship foam for customers throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico, he said.
"A lot of it is based on the economy and how it all goes," Burnside said.