Ameriwood a bright spotPublished 10:31pm Tuesday, January 10, 2012
A bright spot in Dowagiac’s economy is Ameriwood Industries.
Since reopening three years ago, the manufacturer on Spaulding Street has increased employment by about half, from 100 to 150, Director of Manufacturing Operations Jim Peterson said Tuesday from Ohio.
Ameriwood, a division of Dorel, suspended production here in July 2007 and resumed in September 2008.
“We’re doing well, about as good as anybody,” Peterson said. “It’s a credit to our employees, who keep working hard,” plus two major customers are doing well.
Ameriwood makes new furniture for Big Lots and supplies Pet Smart with aquarium stands, among others.
“We’re pretty full” after doubling production over the same period, Peterson said, but translating that success into hiring additional employees is not happening yet because business fluctuates.
Rather than fall into the cycle of hiring employees only to lay them off, Ameriwood has relied on paying some overtime to its two shifts or turning to temporary agencies.
Another reason for taking a wait-and-see attitude and “holding our breath” is 2012 being a presidential election year, Peterson said.
As to whether more jobs await down the campaign trail, he said, “My crystal ball isn’t that good. Our goal is always to expand and keep growing.”
For example, Dowagiac has potential as the hub for the internet side of the business, for which the company has “just scratched the surface.”