Injection molder Wright Plastic Products Co. LLC is investing $5.8 million into its two Michigan facilities as its automotive business grows and new customers turn to the privately owned manufacturer for technically demanding products.
The St. Clair plant will get a $3.27 million investment, including a 14,400-square-foot addition to house three more two-shot machines that will arrive this year and next. The expansion will create about 25 new jobs.
"We're breaking ground as we speak," President Robert Luce said in a phone interview July 13. "It's due to be completed by November."
The company also ordered three two-shot machines for the plant at its headquarters in Sheridan, Mich., where it will invest $2.3 million and add about 15 jobs. Wright Plastic has a third plant in Madisonville, Tenn., which it bought in 2015.
"In all three of our plants we're predominantly automotive, but we do serve some other industries and are actually growing with defense and other non-automotive customers who need the same kind of quality and technical demands that automotive requires," Luce said.
The defense contract isn't related to vehicles, he added.
"Automotive was on the forefront of developing industry-wide systems to meet their demands and now we're seeing other industries copy that approach," Luce said.
The company produces bobbins, electronic housings, mirror components, roof vents, shifter knobs, windshield washer nozzles and other parts using nylon, polycarbonate, filled polypropylene and a proprietary resin belonging to a customer. The client list includes General Motors, Eaton and TI Automotive.
The Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC) awarded Wright Plastic a $160,000 business development grant from its Michigan Strategic Fund for expanding and hiring in the state. The company also had been looking at a site in Tennessee.
"The decision by Wright Plastic Products to invest in Michigan offers further evidence of our commitment to helping companies grow and generate new jobs for our residents," Jennifer Nelson, the MEDC's chief development officer, said in a news release.
Wright Plastic also received a $143,000 tax break from the city of St. Clair. Local officials were happy to support the company and "look forward to the additional job opportunities this will create," Mayor Bill Cedar said in a news release.
Wright Plastic landed a lot of business from competitors that had trouble filling automotive orders during the recession.
"We made some really good decisions then to position ourselves to grab a lot of emergency takeover work in 2009 and it continued in 2010," Luce said. "That was a jump start to our growth. The rest has been the growth of existing customers and the addition of several new ones that have grown very rapidly."
Wright Plastic currently has 160 employees with 130 in Michigan. Many have been with the company for decades.
"The biggest reason for our growth is the quality of our employee base," Luce said. "They make this engine run at all three plants. We've built a very team-oriented culture and we've had continuity of management in Sheridan and St. Clair. They've been here the 20 years I've owned the company and it's a testament to their performance and dedication that has allowed us to be as successful as we have."