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Proto Labs to invest $15M

By: Frank Antosiewicz

August 16, 2013

MAPLE PLAIN, MINN. — Proto Labs Inc., which tags itself a quick-turnaround manufacturer of CNC-machined and injection molded parts, is buying a 175,000-square-foot building in Plymouth, Minn.

The facility, about 10 miles from Proto's Maple Plain headquarters, will have to be cleaned, gutted and rebuilt to be used as a manufacturing site, said Chief Financial Officer Jack Judd. He said the overall investment will approach $15 million to get it ready for operation in the spring of 2014.

"We had been planning this for about a year, knowing that we needed a building sometime next year," said Judd said in a telephone interview.

Proto Labs, which already has four buildings totaling 300,000 square feet in the Twin Cities area, employs 490 in Minnesota, including a site in Rosemont. The firm also has facilities in Telford, England; and Yamato-Shi, Japan.

"We had been planning this for about a year, knowing that we needed a building sometime next year," said Judd said in a telephone interview.

Judd said that they closed the deal Aug. 14.

The firm has not yet determined how it will use the space in all five of its Minnesota buildings. But Judd said Proto Labs will move some manufacturing from its headquarters into the Plymouth plant, freeing up space for offices.

The newly acquired building when fully utilized is expected to employ up to 350, but that includes workers who move from the other buildings.

The company offers quick-turn services online to product developers using 3-D computer-aided-design software. Its Protomold service offers injection molding, while its Firstcut service does computer numerically controlled machining. Both are primarily for prototyping or short-run production.

Proto Labs, which issued its initial public offering in February 2012, said in its most recent annual report that revenues have grown from $44.4 million in 2008 to $126 million in 2012.

"We're really concentrating on finding more product development and we've been very successful in executing our strategy," said Judd.

In an Aug. 1 quarterly report, the company said it had record sales of $39.7 million for the second quarter, a 33 percent increase over last year.

"Proto Labs multimillion dollar investment in acquiring and rehabilitating this property in Plymouth will help facilitate the continued successful growth of our business," President and CEO Brad Cleveland said in a statement.