Michigan aluminum die caster Muskegon Castings recovers from fire

Louisville, Kentucky (Platts)--17 Mar 2017 618 pm EDT/2218 GMT

Michigan aluminum die caster Muskegon Castings has moved production to other nearby facilities and continues to supply its primary customer, Subaru of America, after fire destroyed its building earlier this week, an official with Port City Group said Friday.

John Essex, CEO of the Port City Group, said in an interview that while a force majeure letter had been sent to Subaru, he did not believe it will have to be activated. The plant produced drive-train components for Subaru.

The die caster is part of the Port City Group, a multi-location, fully integrated manufacturer of aluminum die castings, mechanical assemblies and injected molded plastics in the Muskegon area. It includes five die casting plants, plastics manufacturing and specialty tooling.

Automotive companies comprise about 90% of the Port City Group's business, according to Essex. Other die casters that are part of the group supply Toyota and General Motors.

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A major blaze, thought to have been caused by a propane tank, broke out Tuesday night. All of the 40 employees inside the plant at the time managed to escape safely, he said. In all, Muskegon Castings has about 120 employees.

Recovery from the fire, which was not totally extinguished until Wednesday night, has been "extremely smooth" so far, Essex said.

"We are blessed with the fact we have four other facilities in the area, and we were able to get in after the fire and pull out and remove all the tooling for our customers," he said.

While it is too soon to say if Muskegon Castings will rebuild at the site, Essex said "we have some floor space we could utilize at the other facilities. We're still weighing our options on building" a new plant.

"By midweek, we'll have everybody in parts and no major interruption," he added. "That's our plan."

--Bob Matyi,

--Edited by Valarie Jackson,

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