BY BRIAN RZEPPA
In what might be seen as a hopeful sign of the times, Trenton recently welcomed a large manufacturer that has decided to expand into the Downriver area after years of production on the west side of the state.
Kerkstra Precast, a prefabricated engineered concrete products company based out of Grandville, purchased a 365,000-square-foot facility located at 1717 Fort Street (on the corner of Fort Street/King Road) that most recently was home to the Huron Valley Steel Corp. The building itself goes back to the 1960s, when it was constructed for the Dana Corp.
Greg Kerkstra, the president and CEO of Kerkstra Precast, noted that the city itself was an important selling point in expanding his company to Trenton, as is its proximity to other major manufacturing areas.
“It was a really great building and the area surrounding it is beautiful and safe, too,” Kerkstra said. “The city has been great to work with and we want to service east Michigan and go south into Ohio, so this location works well in trying to accomplish those goals.”
As a resident of Michigan, Kerkstra was duly inspired to be able to take part of the revitalization that has been occurring over the past few years in Detroit. He feels that Kerkstra Precast can help keep products and jobs within both the country and the state of Michigan.
“We are 100 percent Michigan,” he said. “If Detroit is strong, so is Michigan. Many construction materials are coming from outside of Michigan, including Canada and we want to keep this work inside of Michigan for the benefit of our state and the benefit of Detroit and the Downriver communities.”
They begun production from the Trenton facility in 2017 and are in the process of converting it to meet their needs, citizens may already be familiar with some of the work that they have played a role in creating.
“We produce prefabricated engineered concrete products indoors in a controlled setting and deliver them all over the Midwest. We create insulated wall panels for stores like Meijer and large industrial buildings and also parking structures like the Z deck or dormitories and multi-story buildings, in addition to architectural concrete like casting in brick.”
As they slowly work their way into the Trenton facility, Kerkstra hopes to be able to play a major role within the community. Throughout the company’s history, they have been consistent in donating 10 percent of their profits to local non-profit organizations and they plan on continuing that here.
“As an individual, I am committed to giving back,” he said. “I believe that blessing others can be a blessing to us as a company as well. We want to and will continue to support local nonprofits and efforts around the world.”
After officially announcing their purchase of the facility in January of this year, Kerkstra has had nearly one year of working with the city and the company as a whole has felt very positively about those interactions.
“Working with the city has been great,” Kerkstra said. “All of the staff at the city has been good to work with and we would like to continue to be a member in good standing and we also want to help the Trenton community thrive.”
With their history of giving back to the communities that they work within and the added benefit of another employer entering Trenton, Kerkstra Precast has all the makings of a perfectly compatible fit with the city.