Blackmer on the pace of a $ 7 million expansion and renovation project
Blackmer Inc. is making progress on a new expansion that began in August that will add 56,000 square feet of office, R&D, training and manufacturing space and is expected to create 50 jobs.
Founded in 1903 as Blackmer Pump, Power and Manufacturing by Robert M. Blackmer, who in 1899 invented the principle of rotary or “sliding vane” pumping, Blackmer Inc. was acquired by the Dover Corporation in 1964 and is became a founding operating company within Dover’s Pump. Groupe Solutions (PSG) in 2008.
The company, also known as PSG Grand Rapids, was originally headquartered in Petoskey, but is headquartered at 1809 Century Ave. SW in Grand Rapids since 1925.
Today, Blackmer produces pumps and compressors used in a wide variety of industrial applications.
The company announced a construction and renovation plan for its existing facility this summer, which is now underway and on track with its planned schedule.
The Blackmer plant, which achieved ISO-9001 certification in 1993, currently comprises 190,000 square feet of office, machining and assembly space. The site employs approximately 250 people, including assemblers, machinists, material handlers, maintenance engineers and quality control technicians.
Blackmer facility operations formerly included a 48,000 square foot foundry in which parts for Blackmer pumps and compressors were forged. However, over the past 20 years the foundry has become uncompetitive, so it was decommissioned in March 2020, leaving the space dormant. This prompted Blackmer and the PSG leadership to consider new uses of the space, which led to the decision to embark on a multi-year construction and renovation project.
When complete, the project will add 56,000 square feet of new office, R&D, training and manufacturing space that will help grow Blackmer’s operation and create jobs in the community.
Blackmer said he chose to expand here, rather than elsewhere in Dover’s footprint, due to West Michigan’s talent pool and Blackmer’s long-standing place in the community.
“Grand Rapids has a highly skilled and dedicated workforce, which would be very difficult to replicate elsewhere,” said Bob Lauson, Blackmer general manager for PSG Grand Rapids. “The workforce is highly skilled in the design and manufacture of rotary pumps and other equipment and is considered a center of excellence. As a member of the Grand Rapids business community for 96 years, Blackmer is a longtime member of the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce and considers himself a good steward for the city.
Blackmer supports local nonprofits such as Habitat for Humanity of Kent County and Early Learning Neighborhood Collaborative (ELNC), which presented the company with the Community Partner Outreach Award in 2019 in recognition of its support to families in need. in the Grand Rapids area.
Blackmer’s expansion project will take place in two phases. The first phase includes the most intensive demolition and construction stages. The second phase will consist of renovating the existing building and the factory training center.
The first phase began with a pre-construction phase in March, with a first shovelful of soil in August and full occupation of all newly constructed areas of the plant expected by December 2022. This phase also includes the demolition of the old foundry from November to January 2022, construction of the south parking lot from March 2022 to May 2022, and construction of a new break room and changing rooms from April 2022 to October 2022.
The second phase will be to renovate the existing building from December 2022 or January 2023 and, from now on, is expected to end in June 2023.
Blackmer estimates that the new facility, which represents an investment of more than $ 7 million from Dover and PSG, will create more than 50 jobs. This project is also expected to have a positive environmental impact by adding the most modern lighting, heating, air conditioning and manufacturing systems, making it a much more energy efficient facility. In addition, the car parks will be equipped with charging stations for electric cars. Blackmer said these upgrades will help it meet local green space requirements and become more environmentally friendly.
Lauson added that the company hopes customers will experience the difference with all of the improvements.
“Taking almost 50,000 square feet of vacant space and turning it into living space brings a number of notable benefits, all of which will flow to Blackmer customers,” he said. “The plant’s training center and R&D areas will double in size. More manufacturing space means more capacity to meet customer needs, with a better workflow leading to faster delivery times. Overall, the project, when completed, will better position Blackmer to remain among the world’s most respected pump companies and help introduce the company to even more potential customers, which will have long-term benefits for them. and for the great community of Grand Rapids. . “