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CEDAR SPRINGS, Mich. – A Chinese manufacturer of office furniture components will invest $4.9 million in a new manufacturing plant in West Michigan that will employ 122 workers. Jiecang Linear Motion Technology Co., operating in the United States as J-Star Motion Corp., will locate the plant in Cedar Springs, Michigan. 

Manufacturing at the plant is slated to begin by mid-2018. The company said the facility will support J-Star’s American business growth, which centers on making linear motion and lifting systems for the office furniture industry.  J-Star opened an office and warehouse facilities in nearby Kent, Michigan, in May 2017 and has its U.S. headquarters in Southern California.

The Aug. 30 announcement was made by Western Michigan economic development organization The Right Place Inc. “Securing this new Chinese Foreign Direct Investment is significant for our region,” said Birgit Klohs, president & CEO of The Right Place Inc. “The investment reaffirms that West Michigan is a global destination for international investment and business expansion.”

The Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC) has approved a $738,000 Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant to assist with the effort.

“West Michigan was identified as an excellent location due to the proximity to many of the leading office furniture manufacturers and the skilled manufacturing talent available in this area,” said Michael Fedrigo, general manager of J-Star Motion Corp. and formerly with NuCraft Furniture. “The support available through The Right Place and the MEDC was a significant factor in their final site selection.”

J-Star’s parent company, Jiecang Linear Motion Technology Co., is an OEM of linear actuators and lifting columns. Founded in 2000 and based in Xinchang, China, the company has an annual production capacity of 600,000 linear actuators and lifting columns, and 200,000 control boxes.

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WINCHESTER, Va. – In an earnings statement for American Woodmark, Cary Dunston, president and CEO, said that one of its direct builder customers made the decision to shift business to another cabinet company, as reported in a transcript by financial analysts Seeking Alpha.

“The reality is, given our success and significant market share, we recognize that competition will always be aggressively pursuing our business,” Dunston said.

Dunston said the company is not expecting any long term impact or even a fiscal year impact from the loss of that customer.

“Taking a look at our dealer channel, we grew the business a very healthy 20 percent over prior year. Dealers, as a whole, continue to outpace the home center market due to the more affluent consumer and we continue to gain market share and outpace industry growth.

“Regarding our home center business, we unfortunately saw a decline of 3 percent for the quarter. We have been predicting that due to our increase in promotional spend, share levels will return to more normalized levels. The reality is, although we moved up, promotional levels continue to escalate at both the home center and competitive levels.

From a gross margin perspective, we finished the quarter at 21.1 percent. Margin was impacted by higher healthcare, logistics and material costs compared to prior year. Operationally, our team continues to manage our strong growth very efficiently through our entire system.

Dunston also said that although not completely definitive, the anti-dumping suit filed by Chinese plywood manufacturers will impact most within the cabinet industry with material inflation.

He also said that opportunities for potential M&A opportunities within the industry is narrowing, but not yet closed.

“As such, in conjunction with evaluating all potential M&A opportunities, we are very focused on organic growth solutions, particularly in the lower price point area,” he said. “Our operations team is diligently working on Greenfield and Brownfield investment solutions. The question is not if we will expand, it is how we will do it. We look forward to communicating our decision in the near future.

For additional information, see http://www.SeekingAlpha.com.

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