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 user 2009-08-24 at 4:08:24 pm Views: 67
  • #22539
    Mid-Michigan cartridge business booming
    (clover tech corp )

    Company started in basement is now employing 250
    ITHACA — AUGUST 2009–A Mid-Michigan business that started in a basement is now booming.Cartridges Are Us was created in 2003 and employed just a few people.Today its workforce tops 250, and it is the largest employer in Ithaca. At a celebration Tuesday, the focus was on teamwork.While the owners of the company had the vision, local leaders say it took the whole community to pull this one off.At a ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday morning, employees — alongside state and local officials — celebrated success and a promise fulfilled.”Steve told me, he said, ‘You know what? I can guarantee you one thing,’” said Jim Cerkleski.

    That guarantee was that Ithaca-based Cartridges Are Us could recycle and resell ink jet cartridges cheaper and more efficiently than workers in Mexico.”And I’ll tell you what today, he made it happen,” Cerkleski said. “It’s unbelievable.”

    Greater Gratiot Development President Don Schurr says everything just fell into place, from landing the right tax incentives to finding the right building.”Everything happened just click, click, click,” Schurr said.Now many of the 255 Cartridges Are Us employees work in a former shoe factory. It’s a big change from the humble beginnings of Angie and Steve Iocco.”We started in the basement of our home and a grew exponentially in a very fast period of time,” Angie Iocco said.That growth has meant refilling about 200,000 ink cartridges per month last year to an expected million cartridges per month this year.All that growth has meant hiring 175 people since December.Many of those employees were unemployed or underemployed before landing a job with the cartridge company.
    Cartridges Are Us expands
    When Steve and Angie Iocca, founders of Cartridges Are Us, told Greater Gratiot Development President Don Schurr that they needed another building and needed it now, Schurr was there in a few hours to show them the old Wolverine manufacturing facility on Union Street in Ithaca.Angie Iocca told the large crowd of local and state officials and employees the story at the company’s open house and ribbon cutting Tuesday of it’s “new” Union Street manufacturing facility.”The building had to be gutted,” Schurr said later.
    The 45,000 square foot building, had in fact, been scheduled to be demolished.Contaminant clean up was also expected to be completed, but the Wolverine owners had removed the contaminants and no industrial clean up was necessary for the brownfield redevelopment, he said.Cartridges Are Us is part of the Clover Technologies Group and CEO Jim Cerkleski flew in from Illinois to cut the ribbon.He told the group that he recalled when Iocca told him the move to Mexico was “not working out. “This was after the company had transferred its operations south of the border.Iocca promised him, he said, that if Cartridges are Us could be moved back entirely to Michigan, efficiency and quality would be just as good, if not better.

    It was better.
    “What they’ve accomplished is just unbelievable,” he said.The new building on Union Street is its manufacturing facility. The company’s other plant in Ithaca’s South Industrial Park serves as its packaging facility, Steve Iocca said. About 70 people are employed on Union Street and about 170 are working in the park.

    His goal, he said, is “continued growth.
    “Everything’s green these days,” he said. “We are recycling. (Clover Technologies) is the world’s largest recycler of cell phones and electronics.Ithaca’s new city manager Chelsey Foster, who had worked with CAU when he was employed with Greater Gratiot Development, also spoke to the group.”It’s been a joy,” he said. “We are extremely fortunate to have such a vibrant, dynamic company in the county”

    He also stressed the team work involved in attracting CAU to settle in Ithaca.
    And, he said, “The Ioccas are an inspiration for all of us that there’s hope for this area and in the state.”Ithaca Mayor George Bailey recalled how his father hand helped build the plant in 1950 and how he too had worked there as a young man.Jennifer Owens, vice president of the Michigan Economic Development Corp said she “loved the teams.”This is a signature development for Michigan,” said said, citing the local community’s efforts and its brownfield development. “It sets the bar high.”

    U.S. Rep. Paul Opsommer, R-DeWitt, told the people assembled that for the last 30 years Gratiot County has lost jobs. It knows what that’s like.”Today is a day for celebrating,” he said. “Enjoy the feeling. It took teamwork to do it.”Throughout the event, plaques were given to CAU’s employees and officials and other plaques were presented from CAU to members of the organizations that helped.Cartridges Are Us takes used ink jet printer cartridges and makes them new again.