"We would rather not grow in the Netherlands because that's a high-cost area and the focus that we have there is fully on prototyping and the high-engineering content."
As soon as the technology becomes mature and ready for production, however, it is transferred to either the China or Poland factories, Voortman said.
One reason VMI favors growing in Poland is the ease of providing support because of the proximity of Poland to the Netherlands.
A second reason is because it's also easier, he said, for VMI to protect its intellectual property in Poland rather than China. VMI has been involved in a years-long dispute with Chinese competitor Safe-Run over patents the Dutch firm claims Safe-Run has infringed upon.
In addition, VMI sees the Polish factory as a good hub to supply equipment that is produced for customers in North America. Voortman said one of the hurdles the company faces is that if a part of its machinery is produced partly in the Netherlands and partly in China, the portion made in China is charged an additional 25-percent tax if sold in the U.S.
"It's not a big chunk I would say because here in North America our customers really go for the latest technology," he said, "and the main portions of that are produced in Europe anyway, but the parts that we make in China are than additionally charged an import tax.
"In order to avoid the cost increase for our customers, it's better to do that part in Poland."
And while tire machinery remains by far the biggest market for VMI Group, growth in its business with the pharmaceuticals industry also was a factor in the need for expansion.
Voortman said VMI makes a machine for packing medication in pouches instead of vials or blister packs. That way, the medicine is ready with proper dosing when it needs to be taken, rather than having all medication packed together.
"It used to be quite expensive, but we have developed a high-speed machine that lowers the cost for making these parts, and we see quite a market for that," he said. "A lot of the technology that we developed for the tire industry, such as robotics and vision technology, is easily transferable to a machine for packing these medications."
VMI said the highly skilled work force in Poland will grow to more than 200 by the end of this year because of new jobs being added.
Companies in Western Europe face much of the same recruiting difficulties as do their counterparts in the U.S., but Voortman said the firm has not found that to be the case in Poland.
"Everywhere in the world you really need to work hard to get the right people, but I would say it's easier for us in Poland to get the right people," he said. "Also, the actual work is quite nice. It's a clean environment and it's working in high tech. So a lot of young people are attracted to this."
He added that VMI years ago decided to do only assembly and some of the most critical welding work in-house, and contract out the machining and laser cutting to its suppliers. That way, when business grows, VMI only has to increase staffing in assembly operations.
VMI Group currently employs more than 1,600 worldwide.