BENZONIA — Magna Interior Trim Components on U.S. 31 might seem to passing motorists like just another nondescript business that’s trying to make a go of it in rural northern Michigan.
Far from it.
Walk through the front doors at Magna, take a right down a long, narrow hallway and what appears is a massive, 79,000-square-foot manufacturing compound abuzz with workers. It’s a scene you’d never know existed from the outside, but one that represents a huge economic growth opportunity for the Grand Traverse region.
The company is hiring an army of new employees to fuel a profound expansion for scenic, tourism-dependent Benzie County.
“We love it here,” said plant general manager Joseph McCluskey II. “It’s a small town where everyone knows everyone ... and what a lot of different local businesses have told us is we have an impact. By growing this business, it impacts a lot of our counterparts, whether it be hotels, hospitality, restaurants, fast food. It’s a hard working area. People want to come to work here.”
Magna mostly manufactures interior vehicle trim parts of vinyl and cloth. Their primary customers are General Motors, Chrysler and Tesla. Growth has been explosive since the Canadian-based corporation acquired the assets of the Benzonia facility from Continental Plastics three years ago. Roughly 70 workers toiled on a single shift at the time.
Today, there are about 240 workers. About 100 temp workers are training on-site for new full-time positions, and the company wants people from across the region to apply for approximately 100 more positions, ranging from manufacturing workers to supervisors.
“That’s huge for any area,” said Mike Johnston, vice president of government affairs for the Michigan Manufacturers Association. “Any community in the state would welcome those jobs.”
Expansion is fueled by two new contracts to supply door trim molded parts and sub-components to purchasers. The expansions involve company investments of $3.6 million, complemented by an $822,000 Michigan Business Development program grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation for the Benzonia facility and another plant in St. Clair. Benzonia Township also offered property tax abatements.