- Associated Press - Sunday, September 7, 2014

MUSKEGON, Mich. (AP) - K.L. Industries is planning a $5 million expansion and adding dozens of new jobs to keep up with the booming demand for its kayaks.

Most of the expansion will come in the form of four new machines that can produce the popular kayaks that can be found in such stores as Dunham’s, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Wal-Mart.

“We’ve just been getting really, really busy. We’ve been getting busier and busier,” said Tom Harris, president of Ameriform Acquisition, 1790 Sun Dolphin Drive, which is K.L. Industries’ parent company.

The company expects to add up to 50 new employees, 41 of them before the end of the year, Harris said. The company currently employs 136, The Muskegon Chronicle reported (https://bit.ly/1pMJIZk ).

The need for labor is the biggest concern the company has right now, Harris said.

“That is one of our biggest hesitations … is trying to get the people to staff the machines,” Harris said. “It is really hard to get qualified people.”

The company plans to add two new machines immediately and two additional machines next June, he said. The machines will mainly produce kayaks. The company also manufactures canoes, pedal boats, fishing boats, paddle boards, dinghies and utility sleds under the Sun Dolphin brand.

“The kayak business has really, really taken off,” Harris said. “Historically, we were mainly just a seasonal company.”

The firm plans to lease additional space for storage at the former Midland Grocery building on Laketon Avenue. Ameriform also will upgrade a building it owns between Laketon and Keating Street near U.S. 31 as well as other property it leases, Harris said.

On Tuesday, Aug. 26, the Muskegon City Commission approved 50 percent tax abatements on the improvements. The industrial facilities exemption certificate typically was awarded for nine years on $4.625 million in personal property improvements. But because of the passage of Proposal 1 that phases out personal property taxes, it really will only be in effect for 2015. However, the company will get a 50 percent reduction on a state assessment that won’t impact city finances, city planner Mike Franzak told the commission.

The exemption also is for 12 years on $375,000 in real property improvements. City figures put the annual value of the total tax abatement at $43,707 and $13,841 for what the city collects. Because it’s a 50 percent abatement, new taxes collected as a result of the improvements are the same amount.

In addition, the project is expected to generate an additional $6,115 in income tax. The agreement with the city for the exemption certificate obligates the company to hire an additional 35 employees.


Information from: The Muskegon Chronicle, https://www.mlive.com/muskegon

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