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U.P. company solidifies expansion plans with $10.5 million investment

Samples of the aluminum shapes produced by Superior Extrusion Inc. sit on shelves at the company’s K.I. Sawyer plant. A multi-million dollar expansion is currently underway at the plant. (Journal file photo)

MARQUETTE — A two-decade-old Upper Peninsula-based company has committed to a $10.5 million expansion at K.I. Sawyer — a move that is expected to create up to 30 additional jobs by 2020.

Superior Extrusion Inc., which was founded in 1996, is at capacity and needs to expand to accommodate future growth, chairman of SEI’s board of directors George LaBlonde III said.

“On behalf of the Board of Directors, management and employees, I am happy to express our pride in our team’s effort and all those that have overwhelming(ly) supported our efforts to expand our capacity and create additional employment opportunities,” LaBlonde said.

The proposed expansion would consist of the purchase of a 2,000-ton, 7-inch aluminum extrusion press and associated equipment and could increase the size of the existing operation by 75,000 square feet, LaBlonde said. The new facility will be housed in a steel-framed metal building estimated at 60,000 square feet. Additional facilities will including a scrap bay, offices and restrooms, dual purpose conference and training facility, and a provisional die shop, an SEI press release states.

Associated Constructors LLC was awarded a design-and-build-services contract in July. Associated sub-contracted the design to Integrated Design Inc. from Marquette.

Company officials expect infrastructure relocations and extensions will be complete this fall, according to the release, dependent upon favorable weather conditions.

Construction on the new facility will begin in April with completion expected late November 2018, the release states.

An important hurdle was cleared for the company when the Forsyth Township Board approved a 50 percent property tax abatement for a duration of 12 years for the company.

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation issued a news release on Sept. 13 announcing SEI had been awarded a $150,000 Michigan Business Development Program performance based grant.

One of the last pieces of the puzzle fell into place when the Marquette County Board of Commissioners approved the lease of a 7.41-acre parcel of land at its regular meeting Sept. 19. The lease calls for $1,200 per acre per year, which is equal to $741 per month, according to an SEI letter to the board.

LaBlonde said the support the SEI expansion effort received from the Marquette County Board of Commissioners, the Forsyth Township Board, MEDC and Michigan Department of Transportation weighed heavily in the decision to either expand its facilities at K.I. Sawyer or build a new facility closer to one of its largest customers in Des Moines, Iowa.

In the press release, SEI CEO Brad Couture said the company is committed to providing employment opportunities for Marquette County residents.

“We continue to fully recognize that our success over the years has been primarily due to our employees’ commitment to excellence and their daily contribution to the values and culture of SEI,” Couture said. “Our employees are committed to providing quality extruded aluminum products and related services at competitive prices that meet or exceed customer requirements.”

Since its initial incorporation in 1998 when SEI employed 13 people, the company has undergone two previous expansions with a total additional investment of $8 million and an increase to 130 jobs, according to the release. The most recent expansion was completed in 2013.

Lisa Bowers can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is lbowers@miningjournal.net.