American Seating reveals plans for new headquarters


American Seating, the North American leader of transportation-seating products, is pleased to reveal plans for its new corporate headquarters and manufacturing operations at 1040 40th St. SE in Grand Rapids. The company is renovating an existing facility into an over 210,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art hub for transportation-seating product design, manufacturing and speed to market – a technically advanced workplace that will support American Seating’s growth and vision for the future. The southeast Grand Rapids location is seven miles from American Seating’s current site on Grand Rapids’ northwest side where the company has been since its inception in 1886.

Renovation work at the new location just recently began, and company leaders anticipate starting to move into the new space at the end of the year. The move will be coordinated for minimal disruption to operations and to ensure customer needs and expectations are met. The company is in hiring mode in advance of the move, with new job growth tracking at 7% in 2023 and expected to be an additional 10% by year end.

“Our new headquarters and manufacturing plant is an important and significant commitment to our employees, our community, our customers and the transportation-seating industry,” American Seating President and CEO Thomas Bush said. “We’re excited to share these major plans for the next chapter in our history as a company.”

Strategic decision pays off; new location will support growth

Several years ago, American Seating executed a strategic decision to focus solely on the transportation-seating portion of its business. The company designs and manufactures all types of transportation seating and related products for the City Service / Public Transit, Rail, Motorcoach and ADA Securement markets. The majority of the nation’s City Service bus seats are made by American Seating, and the company’s INSIGHT® product (including INSIGHT-PRIME® and INSIGHT-PRIME+®) is the best-selling transit seat in the world. American Seating makes the seating products for Grand Rapids / West Michigan’s The Rapid buses, as well as for a number of other transit systems in North America, including those in New York City, Baltimore, Miami, St. Louis, San Francisco, Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. Recent rail projects include those for San Diego, Sacramento and Vancouver. In addition, American Seating was just selected to provide seating for the MARTA commuter-rail project serving Atlanta.

American Seating’s transportation-focused strategy paid off; the company not only continues to be the leader in public-transit seating but also has expanded its footprint into new markets in the U.S. and Canada. The new headquarters location will support American Seating’s projected growth.

Ghafari Associates is producing the architectural plans for the new facility, and First Companies has been hired to implement the plans, which include tearing down a portion of the front of the building and constructing a new entrance as well as renovating the entire interior to create an open, engaging and technologically advanced workplace.

Of prime importance is uniting the office and manufacturing teams under one roof as well as bringing the office team to “the edge of the plant floor” and creating more integration and communication among the teams. The vast rectangular plant is being designed with a linear flow that not only will foster more team collaboration but also will accommodate new equipment and increase production capacity, making flow of product – from design to dock – incredibly efficient.

The facility will feature product development and showcasing areas, team meeting and training areas, an expansive café / break room with 20-foot-high glass walls letting in natural light as well as doors leading to an adjacent outdoor relaxation area, and ample on-site parking.

From a mezzanine balcony that is being constructed, people will be able to view the entire design and manufacturing process.

“Having this vantage point to literally see how our products are made from start to finish will be fantastic for training our employees and for demonstrating our quality process to customers,” Bush said.

American Seating has been collaborating with United Auto Workers Local 135 leadership (the union representing the majority of American Seating employees) to create a well-designed, safe and productive work environment.

Ghafari Associates has woven into the plans a design that honors the company’s legacy. The red American Seating “star” logo will be a prominent part of the exterior. The north and west corners of the facility will anchor the building with soaring perforated panels depicting the logo. The interior will reflect the bright red-and-white brand colors along with subtle accents of gray, black and natural wood. A history area is planned that will chronicle company milestones and products through the years.

“We’ve been working with leadership to create a space that brings the company into the future with manufacturing operations and the corporate offices under one roof for direct engagement among teams and built-in process efficiencies,” said Thomas Tooley, executive vice president of Ghafari Associates and the principal in charge of the project. “When you come to the new site, you’ll know you’re at the iconic American Seating. It’s going to be an incredible space that will make employees proud to work for this long-standing Grand Rapids company.”

Transition to the new Grand Rapids location

Currently, American Seating’s manufacturing and office teams work in separate buildings at the company’s existing campus. The office team is in the American Seating Park building, which was renovated in the early 2000s. The manufacturing team works across a parking lot in a massive plant built in sections more than half a century ago, most of which has become obsolete.

To bring everyone under one roof in a modern manufacturing space, the company had looked at the possibility of constructing a new building on the existing campus. However, the location over the years has become less conducive to manufacturing and has become more of a residential and retail area. In particular, maneuvering semi-trucks at the existing campus is nearly impossible. As a result, the company began looking at other locations. During the evaluation process, finding a site within Grand Rapids was a top priority.

“Staying right here in this city, where we were founded 137 years ago, is so important to us,” American Seating Chairman Edward Clark said. “When we learned of the facility on the southeast side, and when we saw the benefits of its location as well as its potential, we knew we’d found our new home. We’re proud to continue our legacy in Grand Rapids and excited about our future here.”

The new location is geographically strategic as it is close to the U.S. 131 and M-6 freeways, rail lines and the Gerald R. Ford International Airport. The company also anticipates a larger labor pool to draw from, with easy access to the location from all corners of the city and surrounding communities. Additionally, the new facility is near The Rapid bus routes.

American Seating already is hiring for the new location. People interested in learning more about employment opportunities at American Seating are encouraged to visit

“This new space is such a cool step in our legacy, and our employees are excited about the new location,” said American Seating Director of Human Resources Tasha Wright. “It will be a bright, inclusive place of interaction and engagement that will support our team, help us to recruit new people, and promote our brand to our customers and the community.”