Daily Star photo/KATIE ROHMAN Pratt Industries, which manufactures intermodal equipment, is locating a third southwest Michigan facility at the 300,000-square-foot former United Fixtures building, 2070 S. Third St., Niles Township. Pratt is expecting to create 200 to 400 jobs.

Manufacturer coming to Niles Twp.

Published 3:22pm Thursday, April 26, 2012

A manufacturer coming to Niles Township could create 200 to 400 new jobs in the near future and will be open before the end of the year.

Belleair Beach, Fla.-based Pratt Industries, which manufactures specialty trailers and chassis for intermodal transportation, plans to locate a third Michigan facility in the former United Fixtures building at 2070 S. Third St.

“I’m really excited about Pratt,” Niles Township Supervisor Jim Kidwell said today. “We’re really excited we’re getting this job opportunity coming to the township.”

Kidwell said the United Fixtures building is the largest vacant building in the township and possibly the area. It officially closed for good in late 2008 or early 2009, he said.

Kidwell said he and the township assessor have been working about six months on bringing Pratt to town.

According to Shelley Klug, executive director of the Southwestern Michigan Economic Growth Alliance, the 300,000-square-foot building has been available for purchase about four years.

Pratt expanded into southwest Michigan with the initial acquisition of a plant in Bridgman, which is at full capacity with 125 employees. Acquisition of a second facility in Stevensville on John Beers Road is also at full capacity.

Pratt’s third plant in Niles will be opening next year, providing the company with the opportunity to expand the Pratt Tech Solutions division to 200 to 400 additional positions.

“We’ve worked hard to get a manufacturer to move into that building and are glad to welcome Pratt Industries,” Klug said. “They are a great company, and we look forward to seeing their progress and job creation.”

Klug said Niles Township was chosen for a Pratt location because the United Fixtures building fit its size needs and its “proximity to transportation network and existing Pratt plants.”

Klug also credits Todd Kamps, CCIM of Kwekel Companies, Commercial Industrial Real Estate, for his role in completing the project.

While Pratt is in the process of conducting a needs assessment of the facility and projecting product production capacity, the goal is to bring the Niles facility online running its high-tech engineering support to the oil and gas industry. The rapid expansion of Pratt Industries is due in part to a corporate commitment to producing a quality product.

“Pratt has been a leader in the intermodal industry for four decades,” said Pratap Lingam, vice president. “Because of our evolving investment in research and development in the intermodal industry, we are poised to apply our expertise in related transportation aspects including air, sea and rail. Ironically, we started in the rail business in the 1960s so the demand of the industry has come full circle.”

Bill Pratt founded Pratt Industries with his father, Bob Pratt, a pioneer in the transportation industry. For nearly 40 years, the company has continued to refine its mission and become a global leader in prototyping and product development in the intermodal industry. Pratt is known for developing lightweight, high-strength components in the worldwide intermodal equipment market.

As Pratt looks to the future, the new Niles facility will focus on technology solutions for the oil and mining industry in addition to its existing product lines in chemical and agriculture transportation.

“Our mission,” said owner Bill Pratt, “is to support America by becoming self-reliant and stop relying on foreign oil. Our signature is investment in technology, and, in so doing, we gather talent and invest in human capital while bringing high-tech solutions to what was once a low-tech industry. We want to bring the intellectual property market back to the U.S.”

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