Short timeline challenges tubing plant proposal


Lenawee County Commission

An eyesore solution?

Anyone driving south on Evans Street has long been faced with the desolate landscape that is the former Tecumseh Products property. Once a thriving refrigeration manufacturing site, all that remains are a few buildings, uneven concrete, a water tower, environmental contamination in the process of cleanup, and some debris. When plans for Project Phoenix, a large sports complex, fell through, Lenawee County’s outlook for the property was uncertain. Now, Nick Williams of Adrian hopes to create a steel tubing facility on the site, and he has little time to do so to meet his production contract obligations.

Williams’ plan was first briefly presented to the county commission’s Physical Resources Committee at their June 1 meeting, and to the full commission at the June 13 Ways and Means Committee meeting. Commission Chair Jim Van Doren and commissioners Kevon Martis and Dustin Krasny had prior knowledge of his interest, as Williams said he has been discussing the business with them for several months.

Williams had some early agreements to operate in a former Venchurs Packaging building in Adrian and was in final negotiations for that building. That deal fell through, so his search for another location began in earnest months ago, since he had already purchased the equipment with a plan to start manufacturing and honor contracts to supply product at the beginning of 2024. He has another possible location in Livonia with a move-in ready building, as well as a building in Toledo, but as a father with four children, he doesn’t want the long commute to his business to take more of his family time.

“I’ve lived in Lenawee County for two decades now. I’ve done startup projects in Chicago, Detroit, Toledo, and I’m kind of hoping this will be my last project,” he said. “I wanted it to be close to home.” Multiple phases of the project could bring around 200 jobs to the area in the next four or five years.

Williams worked with his father, Denny Williams, on building Great Lakes Coils from 2007 to 2019. His first solo project, TNT Tube and Sheet, LLC, was in the East Chicago, Indiana area. He sold his interest in that company after two years and five months. TNT Pipe and Tube, LLC was a partnership Williams had with Heidtman Steel starting in January 2020. He also sold his interest in that business and now works in a Midwest Steel service center.

He said Van Doren, Martis, and Krasny have helped him. “Those guys are very familiar with the history of that (Tecumseh Products) site and trying to get something productive there,” he said, stating that he’s worked with some of them in the past to try to bring other projects to the county. He’s also met with Lenawee Now Executive Director Pat Farver and Operations Director Tim Robinson to seek incentives from the state.

Williams said he knows there are Tecumseh residents concerned about noise or smell associated with a tubing manufacturer in the city. “You won’t be able to know what’s going on inside that building when we’re fully operational. You won’t hear any equipment running, there’s no smell to making steel tubing,” he said. “It’s just a process of bending the tube, we’re not actually making steel.” As far as truck traffic is concerned, he said there won’t be any more traffic than there was when Tecumseh Products was in operation.

The City
City Manager Dan Swallow has assisted the county in showing the site to prospective purchasers because he knows the history of the site and details about the ongoing site clean-up. Williams, whom he met at the Products site in February after consultation with county administration, is just one of several individuals to whom he’s shown the property. “The City is looking for a good fit for the property that could redevelop the site and generate significant economic impact, while respecting the surrounding land uses,” said Swallow. “The Tecumseh Products site is currently zoned I-1, Industrial, therefore the tubing manufacturing business would be a permitted use in the district.” The steps required to approve the business would depend on changes Williams would make to the site, but it’s anticipated that a site plan review and approval would be needed as well as a building and trades permit for the modifications and updates to the building.

Although the City of Tecumseh has requested the use of the water tower while the city’s tower is being renovated, allowing that wouldn’t affect Tecumseh Tubular Products’ use of the property, Williams said.

The County
“Commissioner Krasny and Commissioner Van Doren indicated that they had someone who was potentially interested in the Products site, but I didn’t really know what the business was, whether they were interested in part of the property, the entire property, what that interest really meant,” County Administrator Kim Murphy said. Knowing there was interest, she took action to get an appraisal on the property in April. “Then things just kind of went quiet for a while, while we were waiting for the appraisal,” she said. Unfortunately, at the end of the first week in June the appraiser told her the property was beyond their scope of expertise.

Murphy said Williams’ short presentation at the June 1 Physical Resources Committee meeting was a last-minute addition. Williams noted during the meeting that he’d had two hours’ notice. That meeting was when Murphy first understood what he was proposing. “I had not had an opportunity to speak directly with the person. Mr. Williams was actually going through Commissioner Van Doren and Commissioner Krasny, and I don’t know how those connections were made,” she said. “I had actually mentioned, ‘What is Mr. Williams’ proposal?’ but I had not received anything.”

At the June 13 Ways and Means Committee meeting, Williams explained that he needed to complete the deal on purchasing the property in four to eight weeks, which was a surprise to Murphy and the rest of the commissioners. The process of a new firm completing an appraisal could take up to six weeks. Williams is hindered from making an offer on the property until the appraisal is finished.

The short timeline leaves little space for completing everything needed to have an informed sale. A meeting June 21 meeting took place with Williams, Murphy, Jason Smith from Tecumseh Products, a member of the environmental cleanup team, and County Commissioner David Stimpson, whose district the property lies within. “Since he had not been part of those discussions, I thought it was important that he have that opportunity,” Murphy said. Swallow, Van Doren, and Commissioner Terry Collins, chair of the Ways and Means Committee, were also invited.

Murphy has proposed that whether or not Williams purchases the Products site, any potential future purchaser should have the ability to meet with all those connected to the property, “so that the potential new owner can ask questions very openly of what’s going on with the property, how long will these (cleanup) systems be in place, what does that look like as a new owner,” she said. “Because I think that we as a county need to be very transparent with whoever buys it, so they know what they’re getting into. The last thing I would want to see them say is Lenawee County government tried to slide something through without being open and honest.”

The county administrator thinks it’s important that the county takes the time to ensure the process is done right. “We want to be able to do the appropriate thing. We believe in economic development, creating jobs and all that, but we also want to make sure that our community partners are on board with whatever that looks like,” she said. “We want to make sure that we have all received the same information. Unfortunately, we may have to take a step back so that we make sure that everyone is on the same page and doing our due diligence together, giving everyone an opportunity to ask questions, and have those questions answered.”


Tecumseh Herald


110 E. Logan St.
P.O. Box 218
Tecumseh, MI 49286

Email Us


Latest articles

Please Login for Premium Content