Despite its announcement of layoffs earlier this week, Grand Rapids Plastics officials said they are planning to forge ahead and continue to make precision plastic injection molding components and products.
“While we are disappointed in the loss of the [Fiat Chrysler] contact, it’s important to note that Grand Rapids Plastics continues to produce parts for customers,” said Grand Rapids Plastics Chief Operating Officer Fred Cini in a statement to WKTV and media. “With a skilled team of 125, we are making automotive components, consumer goods and other products for customers in – and beyond – West Michigan.”
On Feb. 24, Grand Rapids Plastics sent a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act notice to the Michigan Workforce Development Agency stating that “on or around February 24, Grand Rapids Inc. (Grand Rapids Plastics) will begin permanently laying off a number of its employees…” The number affected is 85. The letter went on to state that the layoffs were to occur in two waves with the first wave’s last date of employment Feb. 24 or within two weeks thereafter and the second wave, May 6 or within two weeks after.
The reason for the layoffs, according to the letter, was that Fiat Chrysler (FCA), had notified the company it “is canceling additional contracts with Grand Rapids Plastics.” The noticed said Grand Rapids Plastics reached out to FCA seeking clarification and was told all orders would cease immediately. WKTV reached out to FCA but the company has not responded at this time.
According to the notice, because FCA is the main customer for the Grand Rapids campus, with an official address of 4220 Roger B. Chaffee, Wyoming, “FCA’s actions result in the need for permanent layoffs that were previously announced as indefinite and temporary in nature.” Because of FCA’s short notice, Grand Rapids Plastics was unable to give 60 days advance notice of the layoffs, according to WARN act letter.
Company officials confirmed that 125 employees would remain at Grand Rapids Plastics. The focus now, according to Cini, is on diversifying the company’s portfolio.
“In the past six months, we have taken a number to steps designed dot forty operations,” Cini said in his statement, adding that those steps have included strengthening operating infrastructure, making significant investments in technology and safety, and expanding sales efforts to further diversity the company’s customer base.
“Our leadership team is focused on ensuring we have the tools to deliver results so that our production team can focus on what it does best: making precision plastic injection molding components and productions,” Cini said.
Wyoming City Manager Curtis Holt said the city has not had any formal communications with Grand Rapids Plastics other than the WARN Act letter that was filed. Holt said that the company does have a couple of tax abatements with the city and that city officials would be reviewing them to determine if Grand Rapids Plastics is meeting its obligations. If not, the city could revise or revoke the abatements.
This is the second setback in two years for Grand Rapids Plastics, which was started in 1976 by Arthur J. Bott Sr. In 2015, the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined the company $558,000 for safety violations related to the death of a worker. MIOSHA issued 32 serious citations, nine willful-serious citations, and 14 other-than-serious citations as a rule of the investigations.
Bott sold the company and retired in 2001 but when the company went into bankruptcy, bought it back and re-launched it in 2003. In 2014, at the age of 80, Bott was honored as an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year. Bott still owns the company.