The Braun Corporation’s recent announcement that it is adding jobs and products to it’s Winamac production facility is welcome news on many levels. President Nick Gutwein says it underscores the commitment by the leadership team and board of directors to remain in Winamac despite the passing earlier this year of company founder Ralph Braun.
“You can tell that to people, and yet still the fear with the loss of such an icon and a pioneer in the community and the industry – until we do things people won’t see it. This is not anything but what we had planned to do if Ralph was still here, so it just happens to be that the timing is good, and it will be tangible evidence to people that we’re committed to this area,” said Gutwein.
Gutwein says Braun Corporation acquired Kalamazoo, Mich.-based Viewpoint Mobility in 2011 with an eye toward expanding its vehicle offerings.
“Most of our product had been entry for people in wheelchairs in the side of the van. This company had a leading position where you enter in the rear of the van. So, it’s a little more cost-effective product to make, and it goes after some different markets,” Gutwein said.
Gutwein says the company decided to fold the Kalamazoo operations into its existing production facility in Pulaski County.
“It was a tough decision, but we gave job offers to every single person that was up there to move to Winamac. A handful have done so or are in the process of doing so. We are in the stages now of scaling up production of that product line right here in Winamac. We are able to do that because we have production efficiencies due to lean manufacturing the past couple of years that free up the space here,” Gutwein explained.
The Braun Corporation is spending $7.5 million to relocate production from Michigan to Indiana, thanks to generous state and local tax incentives.