By Sue Moore
Vicksburg’s own Miniature Custom Manufacturing (MCM) has been selected as one of Michigan’s 50 companies to watch in 2019 by the Michigan Small Business Development Center. The company will be honored at a black-tie gala May 8 at the Breslin Center on the campus of Michigan State University.
The company is also continuing to grow within the Vicksburg Leja Business Park. MCM was awarded a $175,000 performance-based grant from the state of Michigan’s Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), a training grant for $82,500 and property tax abatement for 12 years from the village of Vicksburg. With the company’s investment, the expansion is worth $3 million and 37 new jobs for Vicksburg.
The company began in a pole barn in Richland 12 years ago. It moved to Galesburg and then in 2013 to Vicksburg, with one employee, six injection machines, and one customer. It’s grown to 67 employees, 17 machines and 29 customers and is still growing. “Six years ago, we didn’t expect to grow at this pace,” co-owner Kevin Murphy said. “We just knew we each had our own strengths and together we could bring value to the village of Vicksburg. And we are excited to be staying and growing here.”
“Our roles have evolved,” according to Steve Shoemaker, the other co-owner. “It’s rewarding to see others grow while working together. It’s about hiring the right people and getting them the right seat on the bus.”
“It’s our culture that allows us to continue to grow at this pace,” Murphy said. “We believe in people first, quality second, and production third. And when your values are aligned it’s amazing what people can accomplish.”
MCM believes in philanthropy. Over the past year, the staff was involved in a food drive for Generous Hands in Vicksburg, collecting over 1,200 pounds of food by all three shifts. They also adopted a family at Christmas. MCM reinforces a strong culture by bringing employees together with picnics, cookouts and plant-wide catered Christmas dinners. It offers good benefits including company supported health and dental insurance, a 401k match and paid vacation and sick pay. “Our retention rate is good, but it can always be improved.” said Shoemaker.
MCM is an injection molding company that makes parts for the automotive industry, food packaging, computer electronics and the medical industry. This leads to diversity of manufacturing while still being a Tier II supplier to automotive clients. The word “miniature” in the company name derives from early products they still continue to produce to this day, but they have continued to evolve beyond the small parts. MCM continues to secure new customers and has several product launches planned for 2019 and 2020, requiring an expansion of 24,000 square feet to its current facility and conversion of its warehouse into a second manufacturing facility.
Shoemaker is the process guy, Murphy said. “What Steve does, I couldn’t do. He is the manufacturing and software systems person who runs the facility. He’s self-taught and knows how things work.”
Murphy has developed the sales team that includes three salespersons from around the tri-state area. While they were all experienced salespeople, none had plastics experience. “It’s all about networking and building relationships. They believe in the team and are willing to take calculated risks.”
The two owners met as neighbors in Kalamazoo over 10 years ago, not knowing what the other one did for a living. Shoemaker was a one-man band when the shop was in Richland and couldn’t keep up with it all. Murphy joined him as a co-owner in 2013 when MCM moved to Vicksburg. Murphy and Shoemaker with their families both live locally now. Murphy is an outdoorsman and Shoemaker loves to tinker in his spare time. “Back in the beginning, we lived in the plant day and night,” Shoemaker said. “As owners we don’t have titles. We are coaches and mentors most of the time now.”
“The Vicksburg community has been super supportive. The village manager has reached out in every way possible, Murphy said. “Part of the allure is the environment,” Murphy said. “We have a solid foundation and aren’t the little brother anymore. It’s all about the team. They care and take pride in producing what goes out the door each day.”