Niles manufacturer Modineer acquires Missouri plant
Southwest Michigan’s largest privately held employer, Modineer, just got a little bigger.
The Niles-based manufacturing company acquired Wainright Industries, a smaller manufacturing company near St. Louis, Mo., in late April. The acquisition allows Modineer to make truck beds for General Motors’ Colorado and Canyon pickup trucks beginning in summer 2014.
Modineer CEO Ed Hamilton said Modineer would make 155,000 truck beds a year for the next seven years for GM. It is a $60 million contract.
Hamilton said GM approached Modineer about making the truck beds in June 2012. To cut down shipping costs, GM said the truck beds would have to be produced near St. Louis, where the Canyon/Colorado will be produced.
Instead of building a new facility there, Modineer purchased Wainright Industries. Hamilton said they were competing against two other companies to buy Wainright.
“The reason they elected to go with us is because of our family values,” he said. “What we offered, besides good value, was keeping the (Wainright) employees and then treating them the same that we treat our employees.”
The Wainright plant employs about 125 people.
Modineer has around 540 employees, including 420 in the Niles area. The Wainright plant is Modineer’s only plant outside of Southwest Michigan.
“It (acquiring Wainright) makes our corporation stronger,” Hamilton said. “Although it may not add a significant number of jobs to the Niles area, it reinforces the strength of what we already have.”
Lemonade from lemons
Several years ago, Modineer made truck beds for the Hummer H3. In order to do so, Hamilton said Modineer had to purchase a number of specific pieces of manufacturing equipment. When demand for the H3 quickly fizzled out, Modineer was left with a bunch of useless equipment.
The good news, Hamilton said, is Modineer will be using that same equipment to build the truck beds for the Canyon/Colorado pickups.
“We were able to make lemonade out of lemons, I suppose,” he said. “It was kind of a diamond in the rough that we were able to use that equipment.”
Modineer also makes doorframes for the Chevrolet Malibu and Buick LaCrosse.
Hamilton said the Malibu project is the company’s largest contract. The doorframes are made at Modineer’s plant on Third Street, employing 35 people each day.
Modineer is a third-generation, family-owned company that was started in the early 1940s by Paul Dreher.
“Being a family-run organization, we are committed to Southwest Michigan, committed to strong family values and committed to manufacturing in the U.S.,” Hamilton said.