New manufacturing business to open

HANCOCK – A glass treatment company announced its expansion to the Copper Country this morning, potentially bringing up to 200 jobs to the area.

Steve Williams, co-owner of DA Glass America, announced the manufacturing plant at the Keweenaw Economic Development Alliance meeting this morning.

DA Glass committed to adding 102 jobs and investing $10.5 million within three years as part of its loan from the Michigan Economic Development Corp. Within five years, there could be as many as 200, Williams said.

The hope is to start production by the end of July, and to have a significant amount of product moving out of the plant by August, Williams said.

There will be at least 30 jobs this summer, as the company begins production. The largest number added this year will be general labor for the lines, followed by robotics engineers.

Williams said DA Glass had considered other locations, but had been motivated by incentives offered by the state. The site will also receive temporary tax abatement from Franklin Township while the company gets up and running.

Williams said the high quality of life was also a motivation.

“I built a home up here, and I love it up here,” he said. “I think anybody that comes up here probably doesn’t really want to leave, so that’s an attractive part.”

Williams said the cost of developing the plant was also significantly lower than it would be elsewhere.

“We were able to buy a whole lot more building for a whole lot less money,” he said.

The plant chemically treats plate glass to reduce the amount of solar energy lost to reflection. The main customers are in the greenhouse-horticultural industry.

“I think it’s the wave of the future,” Williams said. “I think you’ll see less and less open farming, particularly when it comes to vegetables.”

DA Glass products are also used in solar collector panels, particularly in Europe. The company is also developing new lines, such as self-cleaning glass.

Williams said they may look at new college graduates for some of the engineering jobs. Internships might also be possible.

The plant will run on a closed system; the only waste product left is a solid that will be shipped back to Europe, where it can be sold to other companies that use it in their manufacturing processes, Williams said.

KEDA Executive Director Phil Musser said Williams had approached KEDA last year about finding an American manufacturing site for DA Glass, which is based in Poland.

Bringing the company to the area will help not just the Copper Country, but the Upper Peninsula, Musser said.

“As that starts to roll through the economy, it will have a very dramatic effect,” he said.

DA Glass also plans to support community organizations and projects, Williams said.

“We don’t want to just be a building out there at the airport,” he said.