Industrial contracting company acquires former Grand Rapids Press printing campus

September 29, 2021 Grand Rapids Business Journal

An industrial contractor based on Michigan’s east side has acquired the former Grand Rapids Press printing plant campus at 3100 Walker Ridge Drive in Walker.

Pontiac-based Lee Contracting — also referred to as Lee Industrial Contracting — said Monday, Sept. 27, it partnered with the company’s founder, Edward Lee, to acquire the former Grand Rapids Press printing plant campus.

Terms of the transaction, which closed on Friday, Sept. 24, were not disclosed.

MLive Media Group in July 2020 announced it would be shuttering the printing press campus on Oct. 5, 2020, and shifting production of its eight newspapers — The Grand Rapids Press, Muskegon Chronicle, Kalamazoo Gazette, Jackson Citizen Patriot, The Ann Arbor News, The Flint Journal, The Bay City Times and The Saginaw News — to Cleveland, Ohio, at the same facility that prints The Plain Dealer, which is also part of Advance Local, MLive’s parent company.

The move resulted in the elimination of 71 printing press jobs at the iconic facility in Walker with the wave-like design that can be seen from I-96 West. MLive also owned a facility on that campus that formerly housed the media company’s editorial copy desk and other departments, and those roles have since been converted to remote work positions, according to a source from MLive. MLive/Grand Rapids’ downtown headquarters remain closed, as they have been throughout the pandemic, the source said.

Lee Contracting will use the Walker campus for its new satellite location, for which an operations director and up to 100 local skilled tradespeople from the greater Grand Rapids area will be hired over the next 18 months or so, according to a spokesperson from Lee.

This will be Lee’s first location outside of Pontiac. The Walker office will start by offering electrical and mechanical services, with rigging/machinery moving and concrete machine foundations to follow.

Lee Contracting currently supports more than a dozen companies in the Grand Rapids area, including Granco Clark and Dennen Steel.

“We have been serving customers in West Michigan for several years, and we feel the business environment in the greater Grand Rapids area is a great fit for us,” said Frederick Cauley, CEO of Lee Contracting. “Expanding our footprint with an established office in Walker allows us to better serve the day-to-day needs of our existing West Michigan customers, while expanding our ability to bring our award-winning services to additional companies in the region.”

Walker Mayor Gary Carey said he is “excited to welcome Lee Contracting” to the city.

“The commitment to their employees has helped them accelerate their growth and allows them to attract, retain and develop top talent,” Carey said. “The combination of investment Lee Contracting makes in their people, along with the communities in which they serve, makes them a perfect fit for Walker. We are very excited for them to live, work and grow in their new Walker location.”

Lee Contracting is now beginning the planning phase of the build-out of its new space. A spokesperson for Lee said the company will keep the wave design on the former printing press and replace The Grand Rapids Press lettering with Lee Contracting’s name and logo.

Meanwhile, the company is accepting applications for skilled tradespeople who have experience in any of the following areas: electrical, mechanical, rigging/machinery moving and concrete machinery foundations. Team members hired for those roles will join the company’s existing workforce of more than 450 people.

JLL Senior Vice President Bob Horn represented Lee Contracting on the purchase of the printing press campus.

“This 235,963-square-foot manufacturing and warehouse space is unique in that it’s a printing/warehouse facility paired with a 40,000-square-foot office building,” he said. “The space boasts a number of specialized features, including 75-foot clear heights, fire protection, dual substation power feeds and an autonomous racking system. JLL was pleased to assist Lee Contracting in finding the ideal satellite location for its expanding operations.”

Lee Contracting

Founded in 1989, Lee Contracting is a single-source contractor specializing in complete, in-house, turn-key solutions. Lee’s capabilities include foundations, rigging, electrical, mechanical, fabrication, maintenance and repair, controls and robotics, building, and industrial storage.

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