MONTROSE – The expansion of Polystrand, Inc., to a new facility on the Front Range won’t cost any local jobs and will only make the Montrose-based manufacturer stronger, said Sandy Head, director of the Montrose Economic Development Council.
It was MEDC that brought Mike Gordon, president of Gordon Composites, to Montrose from San Diego in 1994, Head said, creating, as promised, 20 local jobs. Ten years later, Gordon built Polystrand, and now both companies employ about 100 people.
“The good news is that he will continue what he’s doing here and continue to increase the products they provide at the companies here,” she said.
That product is fiber-reinforced thermoplastic composites, which has a wide range of uses from bullet-proof vests to liners for refrigerated trucks.
The truck liners are made from a new product developed by Polystrand, and will be produced at the new plant in Centennial, which will be 100,000 square feet set on 16 acres. The manufacturing plant will be the first in a new industrial park near the Centennial Airport, Head said, and its primary customer will be Great Dane Trucking.
High transportation costs led to the decision to locate in Centennial rather than Montrose, Head said. While both Gordon Composites and Polystrand export about 15 million pounds of product each year, in full production, the Centennial plant will produce about 60 million pounds of product per year. The high cost of shipping materials “from the interstate to the Western Slope” was simply not feasible, with the product heading for distribution all across the country, Head said.
“The [transportation] cost really cuts into profitability and to provide the product at a competitive price,” she said.
Head will accompany Gordon when he breaks ground for the new building in Centennial on Friday, June 3, she said.
Gordon will also create a research and development office in Centennial, Head said, because of its proximity to university scientists and technical staff.
Gordon is one of the leading authorities in the world on fiber-reinforced plastics, Head said, and is on the cutting edge of creating new products in the world of composites.
In 2009, Gordon was a recipient of the Colorado Companies to Watch Award, and the year before he received an award for his ballistic protection systems from the American Composite Manufacturers Association. He has also worked with MEDC and Mesa State College to develop training for certification as a manufacturing supervisor, Head said
Although MEDC didn’t play an active role in Polystrand’s decision to expand to the Front Range, Head said that Gordon, who is on the MEDC board, has kept her apprised of developments, and given assurances that his company is growing, but not leaving Montrose.
Head said that MEDC was able to tempt Gordon to bring his operation to Montrose in the first place because it had land available to sell when he expanded and opened Polystrand in a 50,000 square foot building. Gordon Composites is in a 46,000 square foot building, and both sit on eight acres of land near the Montrose airport.
The mission of MEDC is to encourage large employers to move to Montrose and help diversify the economy, Head said, but the nonprofit is down to its last five acres. Although previous funding drives have targeted raising money for more land, both county and city financial support “went pretty much south this year,” Head said, so no purchases are in sight.
Having available land is critical to attracting new industry, she said, but she’s also glad that Gordon’s companies are growing – and remaining based here.
“The land we’ve invested in over the years is what we have to give for the opportunity to attract these companies,” she said. “We aren’t able to write a big check, but if we hadn’t had enough land for Polystrand, Mike might not have put it here.”