Durakon Industries Inc. is investing in new machinery for its Lapeer, Mich., factory, a site it had planned to shut down less than a year ago.
The firm has purchased an automated robotic trim system from Fanuc Robotics America Inc. for the facility and plans to make additional purchases in 2004.
``This is a significant investment in state-of-the-art equipment by Durakon and it demonstrates our commitment to the Lapeer facility,'' Chief Executive Officer Ed Gniewek said in a July 10 news release.
In October, the manufacturer of thermoformed truck bedliners and other cargo systems informed state officials that it would close the site, cutting 200 jobs, and transfer operations to Tennessee. The firm would have retained its headquarters in Lapeer.
Extensive talks with members of the United Auto Workers and community officials, though, brought the firm greater flexibility and the opportunity to reduce manufacturing costs.
Talks to bring improved infrastructure to the plant continue, with local and state groups investigating the cost of extending water and sewer lines to the factory in Mayfield Township, just outside Lapeer, said Patricia Lucas, executive director of the Lapeer Development Corporation.
``We're all anxious to make sure they have what they need,'' she said. ``We're pleased that they're staying. We're happy about it, the county is happy about it and the township was very happy about it.''
The new Fanuc robot will be installed by the end of 2003.
``It will greatly improve our productivity and reduce the down time required when we need to retool for different product lines,'' plant manager Mike Himmel said.