Robinson Industries moving forward after March 31 fire

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Robinson Industries is moving forward this week despite the March 31 fire that took six hours of fighting and more than a million gallons of water to put out.

Plastics company Coleman started its week by sending its first shipment on Monday since the fire, said Ronda Robinson, whose grandparents Fred and Ardis founded the company in 1947.

Robinson, the company’s marketing manager, said she was grateful no one was hurt.

Company officials assess the cost of damage to the facility. Robinson said company officials discovered that some of the machines damaged in the fire could be rewired and refurbished. Claims adjusters are expected this week to take stock of the damage.


The fire started from a routine process of heating plastic sheeting in the main thermoforming plant where offices are also located, Robinson said. The company produces heavy-duty thermoformed plastics and injection molding for several industries, including automotive, retail, agriculture, battery, defense, marine and textiles.

“It was a fluke,” Robinson said.

A fire broke out and Midnight Shift employees put it out, Robinson said. Then it turned on.

“They were heroic,” she said. “They tried everything to get him out.”

Robinson and her husband, Bob Sucharski, were celebrating their birthday in the Detroit area the day before the fire. They learned of the fire by text message on March 31.

The outreach to community, employees, union, competitors, non-competitors, their customers and more has been phenomenal, Robinson said.

“I was so surprised by the number of competitors who reached out,” she said, adding that they offered machine capacity, manpower and more. “We are so blown away.”

Employees are encouraged to apply for unemployment benefits due to the fire. Robinson Industries pays its insurance for three months.

“The union has been so good to work with us,” she added. “The employees were patient. Everyone put aside their differences and came together.

While the fire was still burning, Robinson said there were officials inside holding a strategy meeting. She said it was something to see. Robinson said they are trying to look into the issue.

Sucharski and Robinson are also grateful to the many firefighters and departments who also helped. Robinson said Monday that during the blaze, firefighters stood between the fire and the propane tank, preventing it from exploding.

“They were heroes,” she said.

The Coleman Community Fire Department along with 13 other fire departments doused the blaze with more than one million gallons of water and spent about six hours putting it out. Helping them were Edenville Township, Jerome Township, Mills Township, Hope Township, Larkin Township, Lee Township, Midland Township, Homer Township, Beaverton Area Fire Department, Gladwin, Secord Township, Billings Township, Clare, Harrison Community Fire Department, MyMichigan EMS, Midland County Sheriff’s Office, Midland County Central Dispatch, Midland County Emergency Management, Gladwin County Emergency Management, Delisle Excavating, American Red Cross and many community members and businesses who kept watch that all first responders have food, water, coffee and Gatorade.

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