Camrose Technologies LLC, a member of a new minority-owned business alliance, is emerging as a stronger player on its own terms.
The company was bought by Michigan businessman William Pickard and Cambridge, Ontario-based molder Ventra Group Inc. in 1997 from J.P. Emco Inc. At the time, Emco had been operating under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
But now, Camrose has moved in a positive direction, expanding its core exterior-parts automotive operations and taking on new products. The injection molder, based in Ada, Okla., has bought the exterior door-handle operations of Ventra. Ventra had operated that business, called Door Handle Systems, or DHS, as a separate division.
Camrose moved the operation from Woodbridge, Ontario, to Ada.
Camrose purchased 11 injection presses with clamping forces of 200-850 tons, and several small shuttle presses to make door handles, said Joe Bacher, Camrose vice president and general manager.
The company has invested about $3.5 million in the door-handle operation, he said. The company will supply handles to General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. The operation includes injection molding, casting, painting and assembly.
The company also is installing two new Engel injection presses with clamping forces of 3,500 tons at its Ada plant to make bumper fascias. The presses are to begin operating in July, Bacher said.
The presses, plus peripheral equipment including overhead cranes, cost about $5 million, Bacher said. The presses primarily were needed to supply bumper parts to a GM plant in Oklahoma City.
Finally, Camrose is completing an engineering feasibility study to add a $13.5 million, automated painting facility. The company plans to open a 40,000-square-foot paint facility by the third quarter of 2000.
Camrose, primarily a supplier of bumper fascias and exterior-trim parts, also is finalizing negotiations to supply jack handles to DaimlerChrysler Corp., Bacher said.
That work should begin in August, he added.
The company recorded about $50 million in sales last year.
About 165 workers joined the company to work on the new door-handle business, Bacher said.
Currently, about 400 hourly and 95 salaried employees work at the plant.