Gentex Is Constructing Fourth Plant


    ZEELAND — A new production plant costing $40 million to $45 million and now under construction in Zeeland will provide Gentex Corp. the capacity needed to meet growth expectations for at least the next few years.

    The 300,000-square-foot facility, going up across the street from Gentex’s corporate headquarters, will boost production capacity for the company’s popular auto-dimming automotive mirrors by 7 million units annually, to 20 million units total.

    Gentex expects to begin ramping up production in the new facility by the first quarter of 2006. The plan will create upwards of 600 new jobs over the next five years for the fast-growing Gentex, which presently employs more than 2,100 people worldwide, most of them in the Zeeland area.

    “In light of the number of jobs that recently have left West Michigan, it’s both humbling and gratifying to be part of an organization that’s able to expand locally due to continued growth and success,” Gentex Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Fred Bauer said. “Our commitment to the area, and the area’s commitment to Gentex, has never been stronger.”

    The new production facility will become the fourth mirror plant that Gentex has built since 1989. The most recent plant was a $12 million, 170,000-square-foot facility in Zeeland that opened just four years ago.

    Since 1989, Gentex has grown from a small company of 260 employees and the production of 234,000 mirror units annually to a global automotive supplier that in 2003 shipped nearly 10.3 million mirror units worldwide.

    The company last month reported mid-year 2004 sales of $258.9 million, up 11.5 percent from the $232.2 million through the first six months of 2003.

    Mirror shipments at midyear were up 18 percent from year-ago levels, from 5.06 million to 5.98 million units. The company anticipates growing unit shipments by 15 percent for the year. The plant will provide Gentex the production capacity needed for a three- to five-year period.

    A home-grown company, Gentex had considered building the new facility elsewhere. An economic incentive package from the state was a “major factor” that swayed the decision to build in Zeeland, Bauer said.

    In addition to the production space, the new factory will feature a technology center that will house engineering and research and development teams.    

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