By Joanne Bailey-Boorsma
Despite an effort to expand sales to cover a major blow in the lost of contracts earlier this year, Grand Rapids Plastics has announced it would be closing its doors at the end of this week.
“Grand Rapids Plastics has made the difficult decision to end operations on Friday,” said Mary Ann Sabo who is with Sabo PR and is serving as spokesperson for the company. “While our management team worked to expand sales efforts, we were unable to compensate for contracts that ended earlier this year.”
It was about two months ago, Grand Rapids Plastics, which made auto replacement parts, had sent a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act notice to the Michigan Workforce Development Agency stating the company will begin permanently laying off a number of its employees. The reason for the layoffs, according to the letter, was that Fiat Chrysler (FCA), had ended contacts with Grand Rapids Plastics. Grand Rapids Plastics reached out to FCA seeking clarification and was told all orders would cease immediately. WKTV reached out as well to FCA, but there was no response from the company.
Accord to the notice, FCA was the main customer for Grand Rapids Plastics, which has an official address of 4220 Roger B. Chaffee in Wyoming. The layoff was to affect 85 employees.
Officials confirmed in February that 125 employees would remain with the company focusing on diversifying the company’s portfolio, according to a statement made at the time by Grand Rapids Plastics Chief Operating Officer Fred Cini.
Sabo said there are currently fewer than two dozen employees at Grand Rapids Plastics.
“We are especially appreciative of the employees who helped us complete final orders for our customers.,” she said.
Grand Rapids Plastics was started in 1976 by Arthur J. Bott, Sr., who received a 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award, one of 10 Ernest & Young Entrepreneur of the Year awards, for his work in the community. In 2001, Bott sold Grand Rapids Plastics, which had an estimated worth of $300 million with 300 employees at the time. When the company went into bankruptcy, he bought it back in 2003 and re-launched it. The Bott family still owns the company.
In 2015, the company was fined $558,000 for safety violations related to the death of a worker by the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration. MIOSHA issued 32 serious citations, nine willful-serious citations, and 14 other-than-serious citations as a rule of the investigations.