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IMLAY CITY, MICHIGAN

Unless you’re one of those people who crawl under cars during supplier days at the North American International Auto Show at COBO Center, it’s likely you’ve never heard of VINTECH Industries. However, it’s just as likely that you see the nine-year-old company’s products almost every day and don’t realize it.  Over the last several years alone, VINTECH, the plastic extrusions company, supplied parts for the Dodge Avenger, Chrysler 300, Honda Acura SL/TL, Fiat 500 and Chrysler 200. This year VINTECH parts are found on the Ford Fusion, Lincoln, Arcadia, Equinox and Camaro convertible.  There are even nine VINTECH parts on the presidential limousine used by President Barack Obama.
On May 2 VINTECH officials will head for the Lansing Center to be recognized as one of the second-stage companies on the “Michigan 50 Companies to Watch” list at the annual Michigan Celebrates Small Business event.  A spokesman for the Edward Lowe Foundation said firms on the list are selected for the impact they make in their markets, in their communities and in the state. Second-stage companies, Melissa Phillips, an entrepreneurship services manager with the foundation, said, are firms with between six and 99 employees and annual sales between $750,000 and $350 million that are poised for growth. “We look at different factors,” she said, including business success and philanthropic activity in deciding what firms make the list. “We want the companies on the list to be the next big thing,” Phillips said.
This year a dozen judges in Lansing trimmed a nominee list of 253 down to the 50 that will be honored at the Lansing Center next month.  Partners Jim Schoonover and Vince McNish founded the company in 2004 in a small commercial space in Deerfield Townshipand two years later moved to Imlay City.  Last spring the company moved from a building on Folk Court to a 75,000-square-foot facility on Industrial Parkway, that once housed the Mantex Corp. “There were times we didn’t have enough money to spilt a fish sandwich at McDonald’s,” Schoonover recalled of their early days. A mutual friend introduced Schoonover, who grew up in Almont, to McNish, who grew up in North Branch.
“We had similar career paths,” Schoonover said. However McNish sold his interest in VINTECH Industries to Weizhong “Frank” Mu, the former CEO of Mint, a large auto a large automotive company, in December. “He brings some great dynamics to the company,” Schoonover said.  The company is a frequent sponsor for events like Imlay City’s Blueberry Festival and the Polar Express Parade.  Starting with McNish and one machine Schoonover has seen his company grow to employ more than 80 people. “I think,” Schoonover said, “that we owe it to our employees and the community to be successful.”
“I’m glad they chose to stay in Imlay City,” Kimberly Marrone, executive director of the Imlay City Downtown Development Authority. “They’ve really gotten involved in the community,” Marrone said, who nominated VINTECH for the award.  Schoonover said that Imlay City, with its rail line and direct access to Canada and the metro Detroit area, is a perfect location for a company positioning itself as a dedicated Tier 1 supplier. “We like it here,” he said.