Two industrial park tenants juggle facilities to add space

Journal of Business

By Jeanne Gustafson

Tire wholesaler, sheet-metal fabricator expand at SBIP

SPOKANE, WA- Two tenants of the Spokane Business & Industrial Park, in the Spokane Valley, say they are increasing the amount of space they lease there.

One of the two, sheet metal fabricator Apex Industries Inc., is expanding into a more than 14,000-square-foot space that the other tenant, neighboring TCI Tire Centers LLC, plans to vacate next month in building 14 at the industrial park, at 3808 N Sullivan Road. TCI Tire Centers plans to move its operation into a newly remodeled, 22,000-square-foot space, in building 13, that it says will allow it to increase its on-hand inventory.

Dwaine Plummer, TCI Tire Centers’ manager, says the Michelin-owned tire wholesaler had good sales last year. Though sales volume was about the same as in 2007, profits were up due to higher prices and expanded inventory, he says.

The larger space will give TCI expanded showroom area and more office space, Plummer says. Crown West Realty LLC, which owns the park, recently has updated the new space with a new fire sprinkler system and increased insulation in the warehouse area, and has added an office there for TCI Tire Centers, Plummer says.

The store currently has seven employees. For now it doesn’t plan to add more people, but might hire one person later as it considers expanding its delivery routes, Plummer says. It has a fleet of five trucks with which it delivers tires to its customers, and it also ships tires to some customers, he says.

Overall, Michelin Group, which has U.S. headquarters in Greenville, S.C., has added 40 wholesale stores over the last two years, Plummer says. The Spokane-area store sells a number of brands of tires to tire stores in the region.

Once TCI Tire Centers moves, Apex Industries, which cuts, bends, forms, and welds sheet metal into precision parts for manufacturers, will take over the vacated space, says Gordon Cudney, who co-owns the company with Matt Matthews.

Apex Industries, which currently has between 80 and 90 employees, doesn’t plan to add any more employees for the time being, Cudney says. Its work force is up from 70 in the fall of 2007, but the company has been experiencing a slow period since around the last quarter of 2008, he says.

“Although we do need the space, it’s more a timing of opportunity,” Cudney says.

Apex plans to install a second powder coating system there, and the additional space will give the company room to grow in the future and a more efficient work flow, he says. Apex currently uses a batch powder coating system, and will add an automated conveyor line powder coating system. Powder coating is a finishing process in which a powder form of dry paint is charged electrostatically and applied to metal parts, which then are placed in an oven where the powder is heat cured at 350 degrees to 400 degrees to form a durable finish, Cudney says.

Apex produces parts for companies in the electronics, medical, and aerospace industries, among others, he says.

Over the past year, the company has invested about $1 million in equipment, mostly for growth or redundant capacity, Cudney says.

Dean Stuart, director of marketing for Crown West, says the park currently has about 7 percent vacancy rate.