Gage Industries Inc. has chosen an 81,000-square-foot plant in Tigard, Ore., as the site of its heavy-gauge thermoforming operations. In April, Gage announced that it was looking to move its fabrications business from its four-building headquarters in Lake Oswego, Ore., to another Oregon location. The Tigard building became available when Mission Packaging Ltd. of Calgary, Alberta, shut down its U.S. blow molding unit, located at that site.
Gage plans to invest roughly $2 million in new equipment for the heavy-gauge business during the next five years, according to President Jeff Gage. That total includes two Brown machines being warehoused at Lake Oswe-go: the company's first twin-sheet pressure former, with four stations and a 6-foot-by-8-foot mold capacity; and a three-station rotary vacuum former. By late July the firm will begin moving that equipment, as well as two 5-axis laser trimmers, to Tigard.
``One of the things we intend to do is replace some existing equipment and add significant automation,'' such as computer numerically controlled routers, he said. Production should be under way there by mid-August.
Heavy-gauge thermoforming now makes up about 40 percent of the firm's sales, which Gage would not disclose. About 65 workers will move to Tigard, a Portland suburb three miles from Lake Oswego. Together, the company's three divisions - which also include sheet extrusion and thin-gauge packaging - employ close to 220, he said. Those two operations, which Gage will keep at Lake Oswego, now can grow with the additional space, he said.
``It's not just an expansion, it's a consolidation,'' Gage said. ``Right now [the fabrication] division has storage or equipment or shipping in four different buildings. Its growth in the last few years has caused it to be like an octopus,'' pinning in the other two divisions.
Gage said the company roughly maintains an equal footing among its three businesses, with each contributing about one-third of the total sales. He expects fabrication sales to more than double in the next five years.
Though the heavy-truck market has declined somewhat from a record-setting 1995, it is still a steady source of heavy-gauge business, according to Gage. Paccur Inc., the Bellevue, Wash., maker of Kenworth and Peterbilt trucks, is its largest customer. Heavy-truck plastic parts include aerodynamic side skirts for Ken-worth trucks and interior components for sleepers and cabs.
The company also serves the medical equipment, electronics and materials-handling industries.
``We have several new projects coming on stream and going into production between now and the end of the calendar year,'' he said.
Those projects, for undisclosed heavy-truck and medical equipment customers, will generate an unspecified number of new jobs.
At Lake Oswego, Gage is up and running seven days a week. Because the company installed excess capacity well in advance of the move, full production will continue while it renovates the Tigard plant.
``This is not a real good time to do construction on a fast-track because there's so much competition for contractors,'' Gage said.
But, he added, ``We've got a good long-term relationship with our contractors. Things are progressing pretty well.''
He noted that the Portland area is in the midst of a $11.5 billion building boom, with much of that being spent by the semiconductor industry, earning Portland the nickname Silicon Forest.
Blow molder Mission moved the last of its equipment from Tigard in early April, Gage said.
Duopac Packaging Inc. of Laval, Quebec, bought some of that lapsed plant's equipment earlier this year for its new Plattsburg, N.Y., bottle operation. Mission consolidated manufacturing at Calgary.