Kayak maker buys land for distribution center

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A kayak maker has purchased a parcel of land in the region to build a nearly 500,000-square-foot distribution and optimization center.

The Muskegon City Commission approved the sale of about 37 acres of city-owned land for $465,000 to Muskegon-based Hemisphere Design Works, or HDW, at its June 26 meeting.

HDW was formerly known as KL Outdoor before it merged in May with Quebec-based GSC Technologies and become Hemisphere.

The new company said it now has about 30-percent market share in the kayak manufacturing industry.

Muskegon City Manager Frank Peterson said Hemisphere plans to build a roughly 490,000-square-foot facility on the undeveloped property in the Port City Industrial Park on Remembrance Drive, just east of U.S. 31.

“We’re excited about the continued investment in Muskegon,” Peterson said.

Katie Wierengo, SVP of operations at Hemisphere Design Works, is overseeing the expansion. She said the site was chosen because it is adjacent to the company’s largest manufacturing facility.

“It will help us be more productive in the way we move our product around the city,” she said.

Besides housing distribution, the facility will be part of the company’s “network optimization strategy.”

“We will do distribution and postponement to partially finish boats as they come in and then customize them to customer wants,” she said.

Wierengo said HDW will bring the first 200,000 square feet of the distribution center online in January. The remainder will be operational by the end of April.

She did not disclose the size of the investment, but she said it expects the facility will house 100 to 200 jobs, half of them newly created.

Grand Rapids-based Robert Grooters Development Co. is the project’s contractor and will own the facility and lease it to HDW.

HDW has six facilities in Muskegon, including its new 18,000-square-foot headquarters it opened in January in downtown Muskegon, at 700 Terrace Point Dr.

It also announced in August 2017 it would invest $9.2 million in its three existing Muskegon locations and add 153 jobs. In March, the company said it planned to hire an additional 70 workers to meet a 300-percent increase in demand over the past 10 years.

HDW makes a variety of products, such as kayaks, paddleboards, sport sleds and hunting blinds, under the brands Sundolphin, Future Beach, Evoke and Terrain.

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