USA - EJ marks start of new foundry project

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Infrastructure products manufacturer EJ last week hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for its new, $125 million foundry under development along U.S. 131 near Elmira.

EJ, formerly known as East Jordan Iron Works, plans for the new facility to be operational by fall 2018. It will replace a foundry which the company operates in East Jordan. Company officials tout the project as a way for the company to remain competitive, grow its business and retain 340 jobs in Northern Michigan.

“The official start of construction of the new foundry is an exciting time for our company,” said EJ President Tracy Malpass in a press release. “This project is an important milestone in the life of our family business, our community and our employees. A project like this requires the support of many individuals and groups.”

EJ, the Northern Lakes Economic Alliance and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation have been working with state and local officials to see the project come to fruition.

“We see this as a win-win project. It retains a long-standing, reputable company to our region, provides for major investment in Northern Michigan infrastructure; and it retains high quality, family-supporting jobs,“ said Andy Hayes, president of Northern Lakes Economic Alliance.

EJ purchased the nearly 200-acre site in Warner Township with the goal to keep the foundry in Northern Michigan. The property is 14 miles from the existing manufacturing site in East Jordan.

“Our community is very excited about having the foundry relocate to Warner Township. The work that will be accomplished here will impact the quality of life for all of our community members and for generations to come,” said Martin Franckowiak, Warner Township supervisor.

The Wednesday event was attended by fourth-, fifth-, and sixth-generation members of EJ’s founding Malpass family, along with guests such as Michigan Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, state Rep. Triston Cole and state Sen. Wayne Schmidt. Also on hand were staff members for federal legislators including James Hogge on behalf of U.S. Rep. Jack Bergman and Brandon Fewins on behalf of U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow as well as Antrim County and Warner Township officials and representatives from Northern Lakes Economic Alliance and Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

EJ’s history as a company goes back to 1883 the year when it put its current East Jordan foundry site to use. The company produces access solutions including manhole covers and gratings for water, sewer, drainage, telecommunications and utility networks.

East Jordan Iron Works and several international affiliates began using the common brand name EJ in 2012. The company continues to be 100 percent owned by descendants of William E. Malpass, and members of the family continue to be active in managing the business.