As Central Oregon’s economy improves, manufacturing companies are happily reporting sustained growth while preparing for the future. One such company, Bend-based CLS Fabrication has been doubling down on their growth by reinvesting in their business. In addition, they have streamlined operations to allow themselves to better handle any future downturns in the economy.
“We have found that if we are able to focus on what we do best, our overall production benefits,” says Chief Operations Operator Ben Mitchell.
CLS Fabrication supplies precision sheet metal fabrication and structural fabrication to original equipment manufacturers (OEM). In essence, they cut, form, weld and powder coat sheet metal products. Products range from a four square inch testing chip for pharmaceutical companies to maintenance stands for Boeing 747-200 (think Air Force One) airplanes. The stands include over 18,000 square feet of metal decking.
Their 31 employees, with more to be added by next month, work out of the 55,000 square foot CLS Fabrication building on Builders Street in NE Bend. They are a complete paperless company. Besides being environmentally sustainable, the cost effective way of doing business allows for consistency and a reduction of errors.
“We’re a paperless company for manufacturing efficiency,” explains Mitchell. “It’s the most efficient way to run production.”
CLS Fabrication was founded in 1985 by Eric and Barbara Fleming originally in Costa Mesa, California. They initially built coin operated laundry machine security devices. Over the years, CLS Fabrication added commercial and general security products, third party sheet metal products, and their high-end Baldhead Metal Cabinet product line.
CLS Fabrication moved to Central Oregon in 2005. Since then, they have seen multiple shades of the economy, both here in Bend and the world. Most recently, they are experiencing a 25 percent overall growth in business from 2014 to 2015.
In addition to increased personnel, CLS Fabrication received a $2 million small business loan from Umpqua Bank to upgrade to higher end machinery. The crown jewel of their upgrades, a Solid State CNC Laser, or diode-based fiber laser, was shipped in from Europe. They also purchased three new press brakes to form material and an additional CNC punch. Through an Energy Trust of Oregon program, all lighting at the shop was changed out to energy-efficient LED lighting, and they replaced their air flow system with a newer model. The computer hardware was also upgraded to match the new machines.
For their efforts, CLS Fabrication calls several high profile local and out-of-area businesses their clients. They created specialized drainage products, formerly only obtainable in Europe, for Deschutes Brewery. For Boneyard Brewery, CLS Fabrication built structural catwalks and walkways to ease access to the brewing beer. They continue to make fuel cell products, formerly IDATECH materials, for different Oregon companies.
CLS Fabrication builds home and commercial automation and security devices, such as fingerprint readers and surveillance camera enclosures for national companies. They have relationships with Architectural Metal Works Inc. and the Bay Area HQ Authority. In addition, Baldhead Cabinets can be found as far away as Abu Dhabi, Eastern Canada and Mexico.
Baldhead Cabinets has grown to make up 40 percent of CLS Fabrication’s business. They started making the custom cabinets twenty years ago, and became a primary part of the business four years later. Baldhead Cabinets is currently developing a lower cost line of cabinets they hope to debut next year.
In speaking of Central Oregon’s growing manufacturing scene, Mitchell agrees that, “it’s easier to source materials now. More companies from Portland and Salem have offered to bring in raw materials.”
Mitchell is proud of his company’s contribution to Central Oregon’s economy.
“Any company that is able to employ people and support a living wage job is a benefit to Central Oregon’s economy,” said Mitchell. “We are adding personnel. I’m happy our co-workers are our neighbors.”
Mitchell is optimistic about the future, predicting growth in both number of employees and number of hours in each shift. He explains that their investments in machinery will allow CLS Fabrication to develop more relationships with companies outside of Central Oregon.
CLS Fabrication Inc.
20522 Builders Street, Bend, OR 97701
541-749-4257, Fax: 541-749-4263 • www.clsfab.com
CEO/Owner: CEO Eric Fleming, Owners Eric and Barbara Fleming
COO: Ben Mitchell
No. Employees: 31
Year Established: 1985
Product/Service: manufacturing services to original equipment manufacturers that demand high-precision metal fabrication and powder coating on a production scale.
Services offered are cad/solidworks and product engineering, stainless steel and aluminum processing, material bending, mig, tig and resistance welding, riveting, material line grain finishing, in-house powder coating, full assembly and packaging services.
Hot News: CLS Fabrication has spent over $2 million on upgrades to machinery, building and computer hardware.
Outlook For Growth: CLS Fabrication is currently adding new employees and shift hours to cover contracts. Recent upgrades put CLS Fabrication in line to reach out to new customers.
(Photo above: The Crew at CLS Fabrication | Photo by Cascade Business News)