RoMan Manufacturing is continuing to expand with a newly rehabilitated, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility that it has owned for several years.
The Wyoming-based manufacturer has invested roughly $750,000 to renovate a 45,000-square-foot facility at 1337 Judd Ave. SW, the former site of longtime industrial machinery manufacturer Amerikam Inc., which closed last year.
The building now houses product lines for RoMan’s newer business in the data center industry, President and CEO Nelson Sanchez told Crain’s Grand Rapids Business.
An affiliate of RoMan originally purchased the building for $1.2 million in 2018 from Amerikam’s owner, according to property records. Sanchez said the company leased the facility back to Amerikam until it closed.
Keep up with all things West Michigan business. Sign up for our free newsletters today.
The property deal was “a fairly strategic acquisition for us” given its proximity next door to Quality Non-Ferrous Foundry, another division of RoMan located at 1251 Judd Ave. SW.
Once Amerikam closed its doors in October 2022, RoMan was left with the vacant building. The company initially put it on the market in early 2023 but opted instead to use the space to accommodate recent growth.
“In April sometime, I started to sense that with the way the business was growing, we might be able to utilize that space,” Sanchez said. “We took it off the market, and as things developed over the summer, we made a decision around July that we actually were going to repurpose the thing and use it for our own internal needs.”
The building had to undergo “significant rehab” to get ready for a cleaner type of manufacturing, according to Sanchez.
“I wouldn’t call it a cleanroom environment, but the product is going into very sensitive areas at the end user, so our manufacturing has to be of that caliber of cleanliness,” he said.
After renovations wrapped up at the end of September, RoMan moved in and has been producing out of the facility.
Sanchez said six or seven employees currently work out of the Judd Avenue site. Most of them transferred from existing facilities and all of them are recent hires this year that the company brought on in anticipation of the new work. He said RoMan hopes to grow its workforce to about 35 to 40 people for the facility.
Sanchez added that the building renovations also stand to benefit the surrounding community.
“That space was a great space for us to have and will further help that neighborhood because we’re investing in making that property look nice,” Sanchez said. “The neighborhood stands to gain by that as well.”
This investment comes as the U.S. data center market is expected to grow around 10% each year until 2030, according to analysis from global consulting firm McKinsey & Company. As well, commercial real estate agency JLL in August reported robust growth for the data center market with a surge in leasing for the second quarter of 2023 in particular. Strong demand already has started to affect supply, according to multiple sources.
The move into the Judd Avenue facility comes as RoMan is working on adding a new facility at its main campus on 47th Street in Wyoming. RoMan broke ground on the $3.3 million expansion project in May of this year.
At the time, company executives said the new 27,000-square-foot facility would house product lines for the data center, semiconductor and other technology-based industries.
“We decided to expand outside welding and start to chase other industries that could use us so that we didn’t get caught up in just the automotive ups and downs,” Executive Vice President Kurt Hofman said during the groundbreaking event.
According to Sanchez, the new main campus facility will be used for the semiconductor product lines specifically.
“That project is moving along nicely,” Sanchez said. “The big delay was getting steel, but it’s still on track for completion by end of December. We expect to be able to take occupancy the first of January.”
More from Crain’s Grand Rapids Business:
Low-cost airline Sun Country coming to Grand Rapids airport in 2024
Kent County board pauses John Ball Zoo parking plan amid neighborhood pushback
Mercantile Bank CEO Robert Kaminski to retire in 2024
Staying current is easy with CGR’s news delivered straight to your inbox, free of charge. Click below to see everything we have to offer.
Crain’s Grand Rapids Business launched in 2023, bringing together MiBiz, the Grand Rapids Business Journal and Crain Communications to create the top source of business news, analysis and information in West Michigan.
161 Ottawa NW, Suite 173
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Crain’s Grand Rapids Jobs