A Wyoming tungsten manufacturer celebrated the holidays with a groundbreaking on its second expansion, just months after the company officially opened for business in Laramie.
About 250 local officials, media and eager residents attended Tungsten Heavy Powder and Parts’ Nov. 30 open house to tour the facilities, see the site of the anticipated 9,000 square-foot expansion and learn about the periodic element and its high-tech uses.
The San Diego, California-based firm began looking to relocate some of its Chinese manufacturing operations back to U.S. soil in 2014. The Wyoming Business Council, the state’s economic development agency, reacted quickly by sending representatives to California to meet with owner and founder Joe Sery.
“Wyoming came very, very quickly to the table, discussed our project with us, offered us great facilities. Just the whole approach by the state was very positive,” Sery said. “We were given choices and flexibility. We felt at home right from the word go, and Laramie stood way above any other city that made us an offer.”
The Business Council provided $2.9 million to the city of Laramie to build a 20,000 square-foot facility, which Tungsten Parts Wyoming, a subsidiary of Tungsten Heavy Powder and Parts, now leases.
Advanced CNC machines, presses, furnaces and grinders have already packed the existing space. Tungsten Parts Wyoming responded by purchasing an additional 15,000 square-foot facility earlier this year.
The company promised to create 25 jobs in three years, but Sery has already hired 32 workers.
Tungsten is a heavy metal that boasts the highest melting point and highest tensile strength of any metal.
Tungsten Parts Wyoming takes that fine, sand-like powder and runs it through high-tech machines capable of pressing and shaping the materials into balls, cubes and other shapes. The final products include penetrators, bucking bars, alloys and more.
“The products that we make are genuinely one of a kind,” Sery said. “No other facility in the world makes products like we do.”
Tungsten Parts Wyoming has exclusive manufacturing licenses with internationally recognized companies.
In all, tens of millions of dollars in tungsten products are now being made in Laramie, Wyoming, instead of China.
Advanced industries like Tungsten Parts Wyoming belongs to are vital to the state’s economic future. These industries have led the post-recession employment recovery, according to the Brookings Institution, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization focused on policy.
In Wyoming, advanced industries employ 17,690 workers, or 5.7 percent of the workforce. Those workers are paid nearly double the average salary in the state and the goods they produce account for $8.2 billion of Wyoming’s gross domestic product.
“The Business Council’s long-term strategy is focused on increasing Wyoming’s share of jobs in the advanced industries, and recruiting Tungsten Parts Wyoming to Laramie was an important step in that direction,” said Shawn Reese, chief executive officer of the Business Council.
An international powerhouse like Tungsten also positions Wyoming to compete for companies globally. Tungsten’s success in relocating, recruiting a workforce and quickly expanding shows other firms what is possible in Wyoming.
“We are happy every day that we decided to come here,” Sery said. “The city is wonderful. The people in the city, the administration, the associations here, everybody is just wonderful.”