Growth in the emerging automotive market for carbon-fiber composites has spurred a $29 million investment in a Walker, Mich., factory.
Plasan Carbon Composites Inc. is boosting carbon composite production in Walker and plans to add 620 jobs to the site over three years. The 197,000-square-foot facility now employs 350 and can produce lightweight parts and assemblies for as many as 50,000 vehicles per year.
Plasan is running at capacity in Walker, even though the company relocated production there this year from its original Bennington, Vt., plant. Plasan opened the Walker operation in 2011. Last year it moved its headquarters from Bennington to Wixom, Mich.
“Our experience in launching the new facility in West Michigan has been great and made easy the decision of how/where to expand with our next phase of growth,” said President Jim Staargaard in a Sept. 17 news release.
Plasan said it will improve infrastructure and renovate the Walker facility to expand capacity. Staargaard was unavailable to provide more details on the project.
“Current industry trends in the reduction of overall vehicle weight are part of the driving factor in Plasan's growth,” the company explained.
Plasan developed processes to mass produce carbon components for such vehicles as the Corvette Stingray, Viper SRT and Shelby Mustang GT500KR. Plasan Carbon Composites was established in 2006 when private Israeli company Plasan SASA Ltd. purchased the automotive division of Vermont Composites and began vehicle parts production in Bennington. Plasan Carbon is a Tier 1 parts supplier specializing in parts for mid-volume production vehicles.
About 530 of the new jobs in Walker will be semi-skilled operator positions and the remainder in office and management roles. Plasan has been offered a $6 million incentive package from the state of Michigan and city of Walker for the expansion.
Michigan's The Right Place Inc., a regional economic development agency, helped convince Plasan Carbon to begin production in Walker in 2011, and to move its headquarters from Vermont to Michigan. Plasan phased out production in Bennington this year.
Japanese materials major Toray Industries Inc. invested in a 20 percent stake in Plasan Carbon in 2013.