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Alcoa Howmet – Whitehall, Michigan

Advanced manufacturing providing optimized solutions for improved performance, efficiency and value

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Eagle Alloy, Inc. – Part of the Eagle Group of companies - Muskegon, Michigan

Serving a diverse customer base and utilizing lean manufacturing practices; one of the premier steel foundries in the country


Alcoa Howmet – Whitehall, Michigan

A commitment to environmental sustainability; keeping the health and safety of their employees, customers and communities a top priority

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Muskegon Area First: Helping Local Businesses Flourish

The Culinary Institute of Michigan - Baker College's world-class caliber culinary learning environment


Alcoa Howmet – Whitehall, Michigan since 1951

Leading producer of complex investment-cast turbine components for the aerospace and industrial gas turbine industries

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KL Outdoor in Muskegon sold to Florida-based PE firm

KL Outdoor in Muskegon sold to Florida-based PE firm

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KL Outdoor, the maker of Sun Dolphin and Evoke brands of watercraft, sold to New Water Capital, a Florida-based private equity firm.
KL Outdoor, the maker of Sun Dolphin and Evoke brands of watercraft, sold to New Water Capital, a Florida-based private equity firm.MIBIZ FILE PHOTO: JOHN WIEGAND

MUSKEGON — A West Michigan manufacturer of kayaks, paddleboards and other watercraft has sold to a Florida-based public equity firm.New Water Capital LP of Boca Raton, Fla. purchased Muskegon-based KL Outdoor LLC in a deal that closed at the end of 2016.

The transaction occurred after an unnamed Detroit-based investor group decided to sell its stake in KL Outdoor, the maker of Sun Dolphin and Evoke brands of watercraft, said Chas Chandler, managing partner at Birmingham-based Amherst Partners LLC.

Chandler and Amherst Partners served as the financial adviser to KL Outdoor, which rebranded from Ameriform Inc. in 2016 in a bid to attract more attention to its key brands.

“There’s always a period of time where people need to harvest their investment,” Chandler said of the investor’s decision to sell. “The timing seemed to be right because the future of the company looked very bright. Those investors said we want to transition the ownership to a new group when things look really rosy, and 2017 is going to be another great year for the company.”

For KL Outdoor, the transaction provided a needed influx of capital so it could meet customer demands for its products, which also include plastic thermoformed sleds, hunting blinds and portable outhouses.

“Since 2010, we’ve been growing at about a 20-percent clip or better,” said Dan Harris, vice president of sales, who declined to disclose annual sales for KL Outdoor. “We got to a point where we needed more financing to help continue to grow. These guys will help us grow through property and equipment and maybe strategic acquisitions. We’ve really had our hands tied with sales.”

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

KL Outdoor will maintain its manufacturing facility in Muskegon, and the executive team will remain with the company following the sale. The company employs 500 people throughout its operation.

For the buyers, the transaction marked an opportunity to invest in a healthy, growing company, said Chandler of Amherst Partners.

Going forward, the company plans develop new kayaks and other product lines in the outdoor and recreation industry, Harris said.

The company has grown its kayak business significantly over the years. The company produced 600,000 kayaks in 2016, compared to the 28,000 kayaks it made in 2010, Chandler said.

KL Outdoor has increased its footprint in recent years, including a lease it signed in November 2016 for 70,000-square-foot in a facility Robert Grooters Development Co. is building in Norton Shores.

The company also invested $7.5 million in new equipment and leased a 130,000-square-foot facility in 2014 to better accommodate orders from big-box retailers such as Dunham’s Sports, according to a previous MiBiz report.

New Water Capital did not respond to requests for comment at the time this report was published.


Economic Development Update - 4th Quarter 2016

 Economic Dev Update 4th qtr 2016.pdf


Muskegon companies get $700K from state for worker training

Muskegon companies get $700K from state for worker training

arconic 1.JPG
Klaus Kleinfeld, the chair and CEO of Arconic and current chair and CEO of Alcoa explains the mechanics of a turbine engine Gov. Rick Snyder at the launch party for the name change from Alcoa to Arconic on Tuesday afternoon, Nov. 1, 2016 at building 10 in Whitehall, Mich. (Shannon Millard | MLive.com)

MUSKEGON, MI -- Nine employers in Muskegon County received more than $700,000 in Skilled Trades Training Funds from the state of Michigan for fiscal year 2017. 

The West Michigan Works! region as a whole received more than $5 million in training grants.  

The largest grant in the Muskegon County, nearly $128,000, went to Arconic, formerly Alcoa Howmet, in Whitehall. Arconic is Muskegon County's largest industrial employer, with more than 2,200 employees. 

The grant will facilitate training of 154 people, according to a release from Muskegon Area First.

This is first time that Arconic has received a Michigan training grant, said an Arconic spokesperson.  

"The funds received for 2017 will be used for robotics and other skills training for employees of our Whitehall facility," the spokesperson said.

The second largest grant, $120,000, went to Johnson Technology, also known as GE Aviation, in Muskegon.

Johnson Technology is in the process of hiring 100 employees, and adding a third manufacturing plant in Norton Shores. An investment of $14.5 million will include building improvements, equipment and machinery to convert a warehouse at 6120 Norton Center Drive. 

The company received an $800,000 performance-based grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation for the project. One stipulation of the grant was to hire 100 employees by April 1, 2020, bringing the company total to about 800. 

Johnson has already hired about 75 people, bringing its total to about 770, said Curtis Evans, human resources lead. 

"We've been doing quite a bit of hiring, and the grant will help defray expense of training our new employees to make them productive and safe," he said. 

The grant will help train 80 people, according to Muskegon Area First.

The company also received a property tax abatement from the city of Norton Shores for the building project. 

"GE Aviation - Muskegon is expanding in 2016, 2017 and beyond.  Our current employees are among the best in West Michigan and we work hard to select and train new employees to perform at the same level," said Ryan Berends, training/team coordinator for GE Aviation.  "This training grant will help us provide our new members with the skills they will need now and in the future to help meet our growing production demand." 

The fiscal year 2017 training grants went mostly to manufacturers, but also healthcare, construction and IT companies, including Mercy Health Partners in Muskegon, which received a grant for $81,000. Mercy Health is Muskegon County's largest employer overall. 

The grant to Mercy will help train 44 people, according to Muskegon Area First.

Between the nine Muskegon County grants, 257 current full-time employees and 233 new full-time, permanent employees will be trained. 

"This fund is an incredible resource for local businesses to invest in their workforce and increase efficiency and productivity by giving workers additional skills," said Ed Garner, president and CEO of Muskegon Area First. 

Many employers in the Muskegon-area also received grants: 

  • $127,638 to Arconic in Whitehall 
  • $120,000 to Johnson Technology/GE Aviation in Muskegon 
  • $100,481 to Scherdel Sales & Technology in Muskegon 
  • $99,672 to Anderson Global in Muskegon Heights 
  • $91,375 to MasterTag in Montague 
  • $81,000 to Mercy Health Partners in Muskegon
  • $72,375 to L-3 Combat Propulsion Systems in Muskegon
  • $45,271 to Occidental Chemical Corporation in Ludington
  • $33,198 to Meridian, Inc. in Spring Lake
  • $27,375 to Carter Manufacturing Co., Inc in Grand Haven
  • $21,600 to Lauren Manufacturing in Spring Lake
  • $15,200 to Multi-Lab in Spring Lake
  • $12,998 to WPI, LLC in Spring Lake
  • $9,000 to Pere Marquette Shipping in Ludington
  • $9,000 to Active Manufacturing Corp. In Spring Lake
  • $7,500 to Transfer Tool Products in Grand Haven
  • $7,478 to SyncWave, LLC in Scottville
  • $5,640 to Century Foundry, Inc. in Muskegon Heights
  • $4,320 to Shorescape Investments, LLC in Grand Haven
  • $4,082 to Dynamic Conveyor in Muskegon 
  • $600 to Valley City Metal Products, Inc., in Shelby

In 2016, 11 Muskegon County companies received training grants that came to about $482,000.





ED Update Newsletter 3rd Qtr 2016

Economic Dev Update 3rd qtr 2016.pdf 


Shellcast Wins Top Honors

October 19, 2016

Shellcast Wins Top Honors @ Investment Casting Institute Conference

Casting of the Year

The 63rd Investment Casting Institute’s conference was held in Columbus Ohio and Shellcast was awarded the top slot for a 

commercial casting in the annual contest. This year’s entry was a deep water diving helmet casting manufactured for an 

Eastern European company. The project involved a lengthy design evolution that required converting a problematic bronze 

casting design to a high strength but lighter weight 316 stainless steel casting. The ICI contest recognizes foundries that best 

demonstrate the benefits, design flexibility, and the problem solving potential of the investment casting process. 

This year’s recognition is the 2nd contest win for Shellcast in the past five years with three other entries placing in a top 10 


Innovator of the Year

One of the ICI’s newest awards recognizes technical accomplishments considered to be significant to the advancement of the 

investment casting process. Shellcast was chosen for its unique approach to shell room environmental control. The winning 

entry was for a rotary atomizer that uses high speed centrifugal force to induce large volumes of water vapor into the shell 

room allowing precise humidity control. Atomizers are commonly found in agricultural applications for chemical spraying and 

in some cases paired with robots in automotive paint systems. Shellcast’s approach allows controlled shell drying and has 

greatly enhanced process control. The system operates independently of the HVAC system using tap water with an installed 

cost 90% less than conventional steam-based systems. 


Shellcast, Inc is a certified small business located in Western Michigan and is now celebrating its 55th year in business. The 

company operates with systems that are registered to the ISO 9001: 2008 AS9100C quality standards with Nadcap 

accreditation for nondestructive testing.


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