Howies Hockey Tape is launching a $6 million expansion in Gaines Township and hiring 45 new employees after receiving a six-figure economic development grant from the state.
MICHIGAN—A popular sports equipment company that supplies hockey grip tape to nearly every NHL team is expanding its operations in Michigan, with plans to invest millions of dollars into a new office and warehouse space south of Grand Rapids—and create more local jobs.
Howies Hockey Tape owner Max Sieplinga and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced the plans on Thursday. The Grand Rapids company is set to receive a $270,000 state grant to help fund the $6 million expansion project in Gaines Township, which is set to be finished next spring.
“Michigan was chosen for this expansion over several other locations because of our attractive business environment and talented workforce,” Whitmer said in a statement.
Sieplinga launched Howies Hockey Tape in 2002 after becoming frustrated with subpar hockey stick grip tape, and set out to develop a higher quality product. Today, his company is billed among the fastest growing brands in hockey and sports medicine supplies. It reportedly supplies grip tape to at least 24 of the NHL’s 32 teams—among many other leagues worldwide.
The company is headquartered in Grand Rapids, where it employs 25 full-time employees, as well as interns and seasonal workers. Sieplinga, who grew up in Eastown, said he considered other potential locations in other states (and Canada), but decided to stay in West Michigan after securing the additional grant support from the Michigan Strategic Fund.
“Grand Rapids has always been a special place to me. I’m blessed to have been raised here and I’m proud to make Michigan my home,” Sieplinga said in a statement. “Our dream is to build a sporting goods brand that is widely recognized across the globe. A brand that Michigan, specifically West Michigan, is proud to call their own. Founders did it in beer, Steelcase in furniture, and we hope to accomplish it in hockey and the sports medicine world.”
In addition to tape, Howies Hockey Tape also offers products and apparel used in a number of other outdoor sports. State officials said Michigan’s natural resources make the state an ideal launching pad for the outdoor recreation industry. Federal data shows more than 110,000 Michiganders work in the outdoor recreation industry, including in design and manufacturing.
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