Gill Industries takes next steps in consolidation

Auto supplier sells Georgia, Kentucky plants; is on track to combine three Grand Rapids facilities into one.
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All of the 515 Gill employees across the three Grand Rapids locations will be retained and brought back to work in the Plainfield location. Courtesy Gill Industries

Gill Industries is a few steps closer to wrapping up its four-year consolidation plan.

David DeGraaf — president and CEO of the Grand Rapids-based supplier of seat structures, mechanisms and other components to the automotive, off-highway vehicle and furniture markets — said this month his company has sold its manufacturing locations in Richmond, Kentucky, and Trenton, Georgia. 

The Richmond facility has been purchased by Walker-based Challenge Manufacturing, and the Trenton facility has been purchased by Trenton Pressing, a newly incorporated U.S.-based subsidiary of USG Automotive Holdings Inc., the U.S. branch of a Germany-based private investment company with strong ties to BMW.

Terms of the respective deals were not disclosed.

DeGraaf said the approximately 200 employees at the Richmond plant and the 150 or so employees at the Trenton site all have been retained by the facilities’ new owners.

In a statement released to employees at both facilities, DeGraaf said, “While it goes without saying much of the time, I wanted to specifically communicate to you that our success over the years has been a direct result of your dedication, flexibility, operational excellence and commitment to quality. On behalf of the Gill family, I would also like to express their gratitude to all of you as well. They sincerely appreciate all your hard work and dedication to the company.”

Rita Woodruff, a Gill family member and chair of Gill Industries’ board, echoed his words.

“The Gill family and the Gill Industries board has spent nearly four years developing long-term goals for our manufacturing facilities,” she said. “We are proud of the hard work our associates have put in day in and day out, which led us to the main goal of producing high-quality products for our customers while at the same time protecting our employees and the communities we serve. The sale of our facilities does just that.”

Founded in 1964, Gill provides value-added and welded assemblies and stampings and non-automotive components, as well as the components mentioned above.

Longtime customers of the Richmond site include Nissan and Toyota, while the Trenton facility supplies parts for BMW and Club Car.

In addition to the Richmond and Trenton facilities, Gill currently operates three manufacturing facilities in Grand Rapids and two in Mexico.

Last year, Gill announced plans to consolidate two of its Grand Rapids locations — 706 Bond Ave. NW and 2180 Avastar Pkwy. NW, off Alpine Avenue NW — into a single location at its Plainfield Township headquarters, at 5271 Plainfield Ave. NE.

The sale of the Bond plant to Spectrum Health was recently completed. Production ceased in March, and the equipment in that facility was to be sold in an online auction last week (May 14). DeGraaf said Gill Industries will turn the facility over to Spectrum in July.

Closure of the Alpine facility and the handoff to the plant’s landlord, Haviland Enterprises, will be wrapped up late this month or in early June, DeGraaf said.

All of the 515 employees across the three Grand Rapids locations will be retained and brought back to work in the Plainfield location following the authorization of return-to-work, unless the employees choose to move on, DeGraaf said.

The location will handle pressing, bending, welding and assembly of seating components for customers such as General Motors, Ford, Avient and Magna.

“We’re moving forward,” DeGraaf said.

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