German auto supplier invests $15M in expansion


Swoboda makes high-precision metal-plastic components for automobile electronics. Courtesy The Right Place

A German auto supplier is planning to expand a local plant and create jobs in the process.

Swoboda, which makes high-precision metal-plastic components for automobile electronics, plans to invest nearly $15.1 million to expand its plant in Kentwood, at 4108 52nd St. SE, and add about 37 high-tech jobs to the operation within three years.

Swoboda plans to build a 25,000-square-foot addition to enhance manufacturing and engineering capabilities.

The supplier is working with Grand Rapids-based a.j. Veneklasen for the expansion and anticipates construction to begin this spring and be completed in the late fall.

Hiring will begin in January 2017, if the addition is completed on schedule.

John Fuhs, VP of sales and engineering for Swoboda, said since the company’s start in the Grand Rapids area in 1997, it has experienced continued growth and success.

“Our presence here is a critical role in Swoboda’s global strategy,” Fuhs said. 

Local support

Swoboda received support from local, regional and state organizations: The Right Place Inc.; Michigan Economic Development Corp., or MEDC; West Michigan Works!; and city of Kentwood.

“The support and assistance we have received from The Right Place and other organizations in the area make West Michigan an ideal place to grow our business,” Fuhs said.

Birgit Klohs, president and CEO of The Right Place in Grand Rapids, said since the organization located Swoboda’s first U.S. facility in the region in 1997, the company has grown into a significant business and job provider for the area.

“This is why we are so dedicated to our existing companies in the region,” Klohs said. “We work to ensure companies like Swoboda continue to grow here, invest here and create jobs here in our community.”

In 1998, The Right Place also helped the company with an 80,000-square-foot expansion that generated 40 jobs.


MEDC provided a $200,000 performance-based grant through the Michigan Strategic Fund to support Swoboda’s expansion plans, while West Michigan Works! offered $113,000 to help with talent recruitment, hiring and training. The city of Kentwood is also considering approving a local property tax abatement for Swoboda’s project.

Deb Lyzenga, regional director of Business Solutions for West Michigan Works!, said the organization is dedicated to creating a qualified workforce for the region.

“We have worked with Swoboda on a variety of projects focused on upskilling its workforce, as well as developing the pipeline of future talent,” Lyznega said. “We are excited to be a part of this expansion project.”


Swoboda is a family owned company with operations and a staff of more than 3,000 employees across the world.

The company makes components at plants in the U.S., Germany, Czech Republic, Romania, Mexico and China. 

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