GRAND RAPIDS ¾ A Grand Rapids mold maker and designer hopes a recent $2 million investment will generate new business as the industry in an emerging sector and the economy shows signs of a rebound.
Paragon Die & Engineering completed installation of a 3,000-ton compression-molding machine last month at its 140,000 square-foot facility on Grand Rapids’ southeast side. The machine enables Paragon to further delve into the compression molding market and offer a greater array of capabilities to customers.
“It positions us very strongly with better service capabilities for our customers with anticipation that this market is going to turn around,” Paragon President Dan Hess said.
Compression molding is used primarily to produce products and components, mostly exterior panels and parts, for the automotive and heavy truck industries that for years have sought to consolidate their supply base to companies with the broadest capabilities.
The process is being used in greater frequency to produce consumer goods, such a waste containers and bases for shower stalls. The consumer goods market has “little room or time” for errors, requiring Paragon to make such a sizeable investment in new machinery, Hess said.
Paragon wants to generate 40 percent of its revenues from compression molding business, he said.
“That’s a good mix for us from a business portfolio standpoint,” Hess said.
Paragon Die & Engineering employs about 135 people and generates annual revenues in excess of $20 million.
The 40-year-old company decided two years ago to pursue business in compression molding to complement its injection molding business that’s heavily oriented toward the automotive sector. While the economy has since fallen into recession, with the heavy truck sector “very, very depressed,” the investment makes good sense, Hess said, following the logic that a downtime is when you need to invest in new capabilities to better position the business for when the economy rebounds.
“We took advantage of some available time to do this. We had faith that this economy is going to turn around,” he said. “There is no reason not to invest in our future and in our ability to serve our customers.”