September 19, 2012IMLAY CITY — It isn't about the state's economy. Nor the work force, or the area.
It's strictly business behind Fan-Tastic Vent's move from its longtime location on S. Almont Ave., says Kip Ellis, vice president of sales and marketing for Atwood Mobile Products.
After acquiring the company in the fall of 2010, Atwood has decided to move Fan-Tastic's operations to its home base in Indiana.
Ellis says the transition to facilities in Elkhart, Indiana is expected to take place within 60 or so days.
"Most of our customer base on the OEM side (original equipment manufacturers) are located in the Elkhart area and the move was made to work more closely with our customers, which is something we have always been mindful of," Ellis says.
Offers have been extended to most current employees, Ellis added, including the entire direct labor source. Because the transition is in the works, Ellis says he has no current numbers regarding employees planning to make the move.
Workers assemble specialty vents for recreational vehicles at Fan-Tastic Ventís production facilities in Imlay City.
Ellis says Atwood had a positive experience in the area, and the move to Elkhart is simply to consolidate operations.
"The people were very supportive of us and the business," Ellis says. "Fan-Tastic Vent has a long history (in the area). We have a good work force, the work ethic is admirable and we're pleased despite the present challenges."
Ellis says Fan-Tastic Vent has enjoyed a solid presence in the RV industry with well-respected products and Atwood is pleased to continue that tradition.
The Fan-Tastic Vent tradition began in 1985 when Steve Milks and Dave Strunk partnered up to produce a ventilation fan for recreational vehicles. Milks had been a salesman and manager in the RV business, and created the design for the fan while unemployed.
A decade later the company moved its assembly operations to Capac. Two years later, the plant and offices were destroyed when a blaze tore through the building on a frigid winter night.
Eleven days later the company was up and running in Imlay City, where it sits at present.
Milks died unexpectedly in 2006, but his wife Penny and Strunk forged ahead with the business.
Fan-Tastic survived the economic pinch that began in 2008, and the company went from a low of 36 employees back up to more than 50 by the time it reached its 25th anniversary in August of 2010.
A decision regarding sale of the manufacturing facilities on S. Almont Ave., owned by Atwood, has yet to be made, Ellis says.
Catherine Minolli is Managing Editor of the Tri-City Times. She began as a freelance writer with the Times in 1994. She enjoys the country life, including raising ducks and chickens.