STERLING HEIGHTS (WWJ) — A French builder of high-tech material handling systems is moving its Sterling Heights plant to larger and greener quarters.

Serapid Inc. said the new 24,000-square-foot location at 34100 Mound Road provides 18,000 square feet more space than the current one at 5400 18 Mile Road, allowing the company to add a sales showroom and a research and development lab.

Serapid products handle the vertical and horizontal movement of loads. At the core of the company’s technology is something it calls the rigid chain — a chain that can push. It consists of interlocking links that behave like a chain, and are also able to lock into a rigid bar, providing a safe, reliable and compact telescoping mechanism.  The product is environmentally friendly and works in harsh environments.

The company’s products are used in everything from handling materials in the nuclear, medical device and defense industries, to heavy-duty actuators and mechanical lifts for theatrical stages and elsewhere in the entertainment industry. Among the most public and best-known projects are stage lifts for the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics and the Skydeck at the Willis (formerly Sears) Tower in Chicago.

More recently, Serapid has developed new products based on its telescoping mast, such as a containerized defense system for the military, and a portable mast for lifting lights and cameras for the entertainment industry. The company also continues to provide motion technology for heavy industry.

Serapid’s new location was built in 1970 and needed renovations both inside and out. The manufacturing area was restored to a near pristine state, providing a bright, modern work area, more in keeping with the technology being produced.

Serapid used local businesses and workers for the renovation, sourcing materials such as lighting and doors from Michigan manufacturers. Special emphasis was given to environmental concerns, using green materials and practices, such as energy-saving lighting indoors, high-efficiency LED lighting outdoors, recycled fixtures and lamps, a high-efficiency heating and cooling system, low volatile organic compound ceiling tiles and a high-energy-efficiency roof. The company arranged the four-acre site to minimize pavement, keeping grassy areas and existing trees as much as possible.

“We all know how hard of a hit the US manufacturing sector took in recent times,” said Serapid vice president Dennis Lucas, “Michigan, of course, being one of the hardest hit. The expansion of our U.S. facility speaks not only to the resilience of the manufacturing sector, but to the increasing optimism about the economy we’re seeing nationwide. We feel well poised to provide the new technology industry needs, and are looking forward to the growth this expansion will allow.”

Serapid currently has 26 employees, up from 18 two years ago. The company is hiring engineers at all levels of experience, and will be expanding its sales staff later this year.

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