MENOMINEE - It's a match that was meant to be.

Two Menominee businesses are about to merge under one roof. Menominee Industrial Supply and Air-Cooled Engines are only a stone's throw from each other on 26th Avenue and both share a company president, Mike Dubey.

Dubey headed a groundbreaking event Thursday next to the Air-Cooled building on the north side of 26th Avenue, adjoining Spies Field. Mayor Jean Stegeman used the proximity of the athletic field to drive home her point about the importance of small business.

"Economic development in Menominee isn't always multi-national, multi-million dollar corporations," she said. "It's the strong, risk-taking small businessman who hits a solid base hit like we have here today."

Menominee Industrial Supply serves local industries, foundries and factories with industrial products such as hoses, fittings, belts, bearings and small engine parts. Air-Cooled Engines sells and repairs lawnmowers, snowblowers, chain saws, trimmers, etc. to retail customers. The two businesses have been in Menominee for a combined total of nearly 100 years.

"Companies don't stay in business that long unless you have two key items and they are good customers and great employees," said Dubey.

Air-Cooled started off by being a major customer for Menominee Industrial Supply. As time went on, Dubey thought it made sense to join the two.

The expansion will be two-fold, both in the size and in the number of employees. The two businesses will share an office staff and shipping department and a manufacturing facility will be added later in the old Air-Cooled Building.

The new building will cover some 30,000 square feet, most of which will be warehouse space with about 8,000 square feet cut out for retail and office space. There are currently 36 employees between the two facilities and Dubey expects to add six to eight more in the near future and maybe a dozen overall.

Positions will be opening in telephone sales, retail and warehousing. The jobs are permanent part-time at 30 hours per week,

"This is a very good day for Menominee Industrial Supply and Air-Cooled Engines, our employees and their customers," said Dubey.

Community Development Director Nancy Douglas couldn't agree more.

"It's another example of growing small businesses in Menominee," she said. "We have very little property to expand on in the city and it's nice to see this one being put to use."

Dubey made it clear to the project contractor that he wants all local sub-contractors on the job during construction.

"We wanted to support the local businesses that have supported us for many, many years," he said. "And we're very happy to say that we'll have five local sub-contractors working on our building project."

Plans call for construction to be completed this winter and the new facility to be opened in January or February with an open house planned for the spring.