In 2007, entrepreneur William Grice saw an opportunity for his WJG Molding Enterprises Co. to take over a shuttered auto parts plant and bring it back to life.
Now WJG is continuing its planned growth in niche molding, and starting a $4 million expansion in Charlotte, Mich., that will move it into the medical industry and add up to 109 jobs.
We've managed to grow our business in very tough times, said Grice, WJG's president and CEO. We found a way.
Grice, who had worked with auto parts suppliers Lacks Enterprises Inc. and Plastech Engineered Products Inc. during his career, launched WJG in 2003. In 2007, it purchased the facility and assets out of the bankruptcy of a shuttered Titan Plastics Group injection molding plant in Charlotte and established its base there.
The plant had been solely an auto supplier, and Grice guided it to specialize in low-volume molding. The company launches production, tests new tools and takes on short-run molding projects for a variety of end customers now, with 55 employees.
In his search for business, Grice made contacts within Spectrum Health, a hospital system in nearby Grand Rapids, Mich., and WJG began working for the company, supplying various parts needed throughout Spectrum's sprawling health-care operations.
Spectrum took WJG under its wing, mentoring Grice and the firm to help it further expand in the medical industry, Grice said.
They mentored us and helped us navigate through the health-care business, he said.
Spectrum also helped the company connect with GE Healthcare and its supplier diversity initiative to reach out to minority- and women-owned businesses. Grice is African-American.
GE and other makers of major medical devices, like MRIs, make them in low volumes, which fits into WJG's business plan.
The state of Michigan will provide nearly $1 million in tax credits to help finance the project. WJG intends to add new molding and production equipment.