CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa—When some key sectors in the belting industry are not faring well, Apache Inc. doesn't seem to flinch. It adjusts and moves on.
But most importantly, the company continues to invest in its operation to drive growth and create greater efficiency no matter what the market is like.
“The industry is struggling now,” said Thomas E. Pientok, president and CEO of the Cedar Rapids-headquartered business.
However, he said, “we are continuing to invest in our business, not just for 2016 but longer term.”
It actually has been quite a year for the belt, hose, and molded and extruded goods maker thus far.
In the last eight months, Apache has been expanding its Cedar Rapids headquarters and plant another 90,000 square feet, almost doubling the size of the 100,000-sq.-ft. facility.
That expansion—which includes the addition of more machinery—is costing the employee-owned business about $7.5 million. It will preserve almost 30 positions and add about 15 to the firm's work force, which currently stands at approximately 139, at the site.
Pientok said he anticipates the expansion project will be completed in March.
Apache, formed in 1963, also opened another production and distribution plant, this one in Dallas.
It's the company's first fabrication and distribution facility in the South, he noted.
It opened in late August after new machinery and other equipment were acquired and installed. The company's new building spans about 20,000 square feet and fabricates heavy duty and lightweight belting, hose products, and cut and molded parts.
“We'll have industrial hose capabilities, assembly included, at the plant, too,” he said.
Apache needed the factory because it is heavily concentrated in the Midwest and has been building a base of customers in the southern states.
“We know lead time is important,” Pientok said, “and an enhanced logistics model allows us to help our customers better serve their customers.” Since 2013, the company has sold its products primarily through its distribution network.
It also operates a seals and molded goods manufacturing facility in Portland, Ore., along with production plants in Cincinnati; St. Louis; and Des Moines, Iowa. The firm has a work force of about 315 spread across its six locations.
“We have invested heavily in equipment and talent,” according to Pientok. “We invest to make ourselves operationally better and to serve our customers.
“At this time, it would have been easy to stand pat, but we're investing for the future well-being of our company.”
He said the firm is making a concerted effort to drive more growth on the hose production side of its business.
It produces a large number of industrial and agricultural belts at the Cedar Rapids plant, and Pientok believes there is an opportunity in the marketplace to increase sales in that sector.
“We don't manufacture the (hose and belt) components, but we assemble them to meet customers' needs,” he said.