Tungsten Heavy Powder & Parts, a manufacturing company that moved to Laramie in 2016, has purchased its building seven years earlier than projected.
While the company is excited to grow further, Laramie also presents some unique challenges that Tungsten hadn’t expected.
The manufacturing company based out of San Diego, California, makes components using the durable element Tungsten — including balls, cubes, buffers, warheads and penetrators — used in ammunition, medical supplies and industrial equipment.
Tungsten moved to into its first 20,000 square foot space on Venture Drive after working with the city, the Laramie Chamber Business Alliance and the Wyoming Business Council to secure a grant from the State Loan and Investment Board to construct the building. The company wanted to move its manufacturing out of China and into the United States.
Brad Enzi, CEO and president of the LCBA, told the Boomerang the purchase was very exciting, noting how happy the LCBA is that the company is growing here in Laramie.
“To see somebody come and then exceed the timeline they thought they would grow is a real testament to how hard they’re working and is a great statement about the things that are going on in our economy here,” he said.
CEO and owner of Tungsten Joe Sery told the Laramie Boomerang the company had a total of 10 years to purchase the building, which was owned by LCBA, but only needed three.
Before owning the building, Sery said in order to expand the space the company would be subject to cumbersome processes that were “very awkward, very lengthy, very complex and in fact, makes the building cost about 30-35% more than it could’ve been.”
“Because we want to continue to build, we decided that it would be advisable for us to purchase the building and be the owners,” Sery said. “Now we don’t need to get anybody’s approval if we want to go ahead and build.”
He praised their partnership with LCBA, saying the economic development group was “so straightforward, not complicated, very efficient and super kind.”
While overall enjoying the time in Laramie so far, Sery noted there has been one challenge that’s been hard to overcome: finding suitable upper-level management, especially in the more technical positions like quality control. Even trying to recruit potential employees from overseas on work visas has proven to be difficult, he said.
The issue has been such a serious one that Sery said he’s not comfortable recommending Laramie to other manufacturers interested in coming here.
“How would it look to somebody to try to tell them, ‘Yeah, come to Laramie, great place, wonderful people, hard workers — but you can’t get labor?’” he asked. “It’ s a challenge, it’s a problem. Unless somebody takes action about it, it will remain a problem.”
Despite the major employment concerns, Sery said the company is not showing any signs of slowed growth. In fact, they plan to add even more jobs in the coming years.
“We see a great future because we plan to build another expansion,” he said. “We just ordered additional equipment for over $1 million and that will necessitate more employees, more working hours. … We see the whole lot that we have there completely built out in a matter of 3-5 years and employment of over 200 people.”