Paragon Invests In Future With Compression Molding

March 25, 2002
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GRAND RAPIDS — A local mold maker and designer hopes a recent $2 million investment will generate new business, as the industry in an emerging sector — and the economy — show 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, which for years have sought to consolidate their supply base to companies with the broadest capabilities.

The process is being used with greater frequency to produce consumer goods, such as waste containers and bases for shower stalls. The consumer goods market has “little room or time” for errors, requiring Paragon to make such a sizable 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, which is 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.”               

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