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Michigan toothbrush maker brings work back from China

Michigan-based toothbrush maker Ranir LLC is investing $3 million for automation equipment, and adding 19 employees, to bring production of its electric toothbrush heads back from China, as part of Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s effort to source U.S.-made products.

Ranir CEO Christine Henisee will speak at Wal-Mart's Made in the USA open call on July 7-8 at the company's headquarters in Bentonville, Ark. The retail giant has pledged to spend an additional $250 billion on U.S.-made products over the next decade.

Henisee said the $3 million investment does not include additional injection molding machines. Ranir runs about 25 injection presses at its Grand Rapids headquarters plant, so it has enough molding capacity for the toothbrush heads, she said. She added that Ranir typically buys about one new injection press a year.

The investment in automated assembly equipment will enable the company to produce an additional 5 million power toothbrush heads a year.

Ranir also makes manual toothbrushes, power toothbrush handles, dental accessories and dental floss tools. The company employs about 500 people at the Grand Rapids headquarters.

Henisee said Ranir freed up 7,500 square feet of space in Grand Rapids for the new toothbrush head production, by conducting a lean manufacturing program.

In addition to Grand Rapids, Ranir has plants in Changshu, China; Vadodara, India, and in Europe.


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