A West Michigan metal fabricator is making significant investments to bolster its presence in the electric vehicle battery production sector. Concept Metals Group invested $15.5 million in a facility purchased two years ago as well as state-of-the-art production equipment for its three existing plants in Spring Lake and Comstock Park. The company also added 25 employees over the past year to meet the growing demands of EV battery production, especially in the wake of foreign steel being approved for American EV charging stations. The company grew its footprint roughly two years ago when it purchased a former office furniture plant at 17237 Van Wagoner Road in Spring Lake. The 120,000-square-foot facility underwent extensive renovations to now accommodate 22 roll form lines, 51 presses and a new five-axis laser. Roll forming is the process of forming metal from sheet, strip, or coil stock into a desired cross-section shape.
Company leaders say the new capabilities create strong growth potential, as production for EV battery trays requires the use of roll form technology, unlike other types of automotive components. “Electric vehicles will provide new opportunities for fabricators, and we have taken steps to diversify and enhance our capabilities,” Bill Beland, vice president of engineering at Concept Metals Group, said in a news release. “This expansion has allowed us to develop new skill sets and expand the types of products we make. We now have capacity to establish new partnerships and provide additional manufacturing support for West Michigan companies.” Concept Metals Group’s move into the EV battery production space started around two years ago through a partnership with an undisclosed automotive manufacturing company. Company leadership soon recognized the need for more capacity. “We quickly realized that the scope of the project was so large that we needed a new facility in order to really kick it off and grow,” Kevin Mesler, vice president and general manager of Concept Metals Group, told the Business Journal. “We moved the new production line into the facility and had been working very closely with our customer to get to a launch position for the EV market.”
Concept Metals Group now builds components for EV battery trays for a host of GM vehicles, including the Hummer, Silverado, Escalade, Suburban and Tahoe. The $15.5 million investment coincided with adding 25 employees at the new facility, including a recently added third shift for structural steel fabrication. Mesler said the company has been “very fortunate” to find qualified employees from various industries to help support the growing EV-related venture. “We’re well staffed and well trained at this point in order to take on the new capabilities that we had to undergo in order to support this new technology,” Mesler said. Mesler also said Concept Metals Group sales for all three of its affiliates — Concept Metal Products, Concept Metal Fabrication and Concept Metal Machining — are expected to grow a by a combined 100 percent in 2023, with forecasts to double again in 2024. He said it’s been exciting for the heavy steel fabrication company to join in the increasing number of projects and initiatives state-wide that are contributing to Michigan’s EV production potential. “We’re very happy and very excited about where EV is going to take us … and I think we’re all being pushed that way,” Mesler said. “The federal government is very focused on the EV market, and it is one of those ‘you better get on while you can get on’ situations. I think this is an opportunity for all of us.”