Upton tours manufacturing success story in Niles

Published 10:38 am Thursday, April 8, 2004

By By JAMES COLLINS / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- In an economic time when many businesses have been forced to downsize, Niles' Pilkington manufacturing company is one business that continues to grow.
On Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., of St. Joseph, who represents Niles in Congress, stopped by Pilkington, 2121 W. Chicago Road in Niles, to check out the growing manufacturer for the automotive industry.
The Niles Pilkington plant is an encapsulation facility that injection molds PVC material around automotive window glass for original equipment and after market glazing application.
Upton put on a pair of steel toe shoes and safety goggles and made his way around the production floor introducing himself to employees as he toured the 177,000 square foot plant.
Susan Mazurkiewicz, human resource group leader for Pilkington, said the visit was meant to show Upton some positive business growth in a time when a lot of businesses are downsizing.
Pilkington currently employs 254 associates and Mazurkiewicz said expansion will create up to 100 more jobs.
She said the company will be launching 24 new product lines by December and the growth will significantly add to customer base and to the amount of associates that Pilkington can employ.
Upton was impressed with Pilkington's apprentice program through Southwestern Michigan College and acknowledged the importance of these types of programs being offered through community colleges like SMC and Lake Michigan College.
Pilkington's apprentice program, which has been used by the company since July 2002, is doing just that.
Pilkington is currently training four of its technical associates through classroom and on the job training at SMC.