Making It In Northern Michigan

This month, the TCBN, NMC and the regional office of the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center are launching a new feature spotlighting manufacturing in northern Michigan – bringing them out of the shadows of our industrial parks and sharing their “Who knew?” stories here.

About a decade ago, when Imagineers at Disney World were setting up their Fantastic Plastics display in EPCOT, they turned to a Traverse City company to supply the sensors and software that enabled their molding machinery to produce robot parts that youngsters could assemble.

“The folks at Disney aren’t molders,” recalled Mike Groleau, part-owner/project manager of RJG, Inc. “We helped them by putting sensors in the molds. Then because of the software we used, we were able to manage the process down at Disney World from Traverse City.”

To be exact, from Park Drive south of South Airport Road. RJG is a global supplier of sensors and software used in injection molding. Its clients include major players in the automotive industry, aerospace, medical equipment and firms that make electrical connectors used in a myriad of ways.

“Our business is helping molders supply quality parts to their customers,” said Groleau, “We do this by providing process control systems, cavity pressure sensing technology and training to the injection molding industry.”

The firm has been responsible for several innovations in the plastics industry, including a series of scientific molding seminars, commercial pressure sensors, molding techniques and its two-week Master Molder certification program.

In the past eight years, the company has expanded globally, opening new facilities in Mexico, Ireland, Germany, France and China. In 2013 it launched a training center in Woodstock, Ga. RJG has about 100 employees around the world, with 60 to 70 based in Traverse City.

RJG is also encouraging the next generation of high tech experts by donating 3-D printers to eight schools in the Traverse City Area Public Schools system. Through a program with local educational organizations, the printers have gone to both high schools, both middle schools and Eastern Elementary, Cherry Knoll Elementary, Silver Lake Elementary and Westwoods Elementary.

“We’re trying to pay it forward,” said Groleau. “Trying to help youngsters get excited about technology.”