WHEAT RIDGE, COLO. — Preferred Mold & Engineering Inc. plans a new facility in Wheat Ridge for its mold-making and 10-month-old injection molding operations.
The structure will consolidate different operations now in separate, 15,000-square-foot Denver locations and will enhance Preferred's turnkey programs for mold design and building and long-run part production.
``We hope for [city] approval in September on the finished drawings [and] look at being in the building at the end of April,'' President Mark Ziemer said in a telephone interview.
He envisions a 30,000-square-foot facility, expandable to 80,000 square feet.
After two years of consideration and preparation, Preferred in late August began operating six Mitsubishi presses with clamping forces of 250-1,450 tons. The molding operation employs 25, uses large molds to make health-fitness and consumer electronics parts and had sales of about $3 million from September through December.
The mold-making operation began in 1985, employs 25 and had 1997 sales of about $4 million.
Preferred's new facility will include a classroom for mold-making apprentices ``instead of [them] going to colleges to get math and blueprint reading,'' Ziemer said. ``We have the capacity on board to offer the levels of education we need.''
Preferred has registered with the state and the Labor Department's Bureau of Apprenticeship Program under standards requiring 800 hours of classroom instruction and 8,000 hours on the job.
The program will offset a roadblock. The state of Colorado makes it difficult to get trade courses in college curriculums, according to Ziemer.
``We don't get the variety we need,'' he said.
Separately, Preferred decided in December to end a mold-repair partnership with custom molder Infinity Plastics Inc. of El Paso, Texas.
``Our biggest area of concern in the El Paso area was getting skilled help,'' Ziemer said. Existing talent is scarce, and those in the trade are ``being well taken care of.''
The exposure benefited Preferred.
``We've gained a lot of repair work since moving the operation back to the Denver facility, especially in larger molds,'' Ziemer said.