Just off of M-115 in Copemish in northeast Manistee County, one may be surprised to discover the leading proprietary manufacturer of crowd control plastic chains and stanchions in the United States.
MR Products began in southeastern Michigan in 1960 but relocated the manufacturing portion of the business to Copemish in 1969 during an incentive period of no-cost land for manufacturing businesses. For the first 17 years, the company was an automotive supplier with both GM and Chrysler as major customers and then began to expand into other proprietary work, such as a resealing cap for 16 oz. beverages, which the patent was sold to PepsiCo.
Around 1980, the company was the first in the United States to manufacture plastic chain using an innovative process that allows the plastic chain to be made in continuous lengths in an injection molding machine that still allows each link to move freely. Within 3 years, the company stopped all automotive supplier activities and became a 100% proprietary product manufacturer. Today, Mr. Chain performs both injection molding and extrusion of plastic products. They offer more sizes, styles, and colors of plastic chain than anyone as well as plastic stanchions, accessories, and a large lawn and garden line of plastic products.
Mr. Chain first moved to Copemish 45 years ago but they have remained in the community because of the quality of life benefits provided by living in northern Michigan, as well as also having an available workforce for both their skilled and unskilled labor needs.
In order to continue to grow and expand their business operations, they have utilized various local resources and programs. Michigan Works and Baker College of Cadillac have provided assistance for finding employees with a particular skill set, and they have also utilized Northwest Michigan College in Traverse City for certification programs in design and plastics to further develop their employees.
The Alliance for Economic Success has also helped for tax abatement assistance with the Village of Copemish, and most recently they have participated in the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) Economic Gardening program, which provides research and tools for second stage business development.
The company also likes that even in a small community they are able to use many local resources to support their business operation. For example, they work with a local tool and die shop, have a local pallet maker, purchase packaging from two nearby companies, and use the community bank next door to the business.
Since 2009, they have increased sales double digits annually and have also been successful in developing new products annually. Because they sell exclusively through distributors and online, they are currently investing in new technology to automate processes for shipping staff as well as building a 3,000 square foot expansion of the shipping department, loading dock, and parking lot to accommodate the 50-60 orders they ship daily.
MR. Products Inc. is located at 16612 Russo Drive in Copemish. They currently have 40 employees and operate 24 hours a day, 5 days a week.