FIRM’S EXPANSION BUCKS TREND, WILL CREATE JOBS
Lewis Engineering of Grand Junction is defying economic trends. As other companies are cutting jobs, Lewis is expanding into a new building and preparing to boost its payroll.
Lewis Engineering was founded in 1981 in California and moved to Grand Junction when a customer, 3D Systems Inc., located a stereolithography rapid-prototyping system near Grand Junction Regional Airport.
Now it’s Lewis Engineering that’s moving into the building, vacated by 3D when the company consolidated operations in Rock Hill, S.C., in 2006.
“This is the culmination of a three-year effort” to expand Lewis Engineering, said Matt Collins, chief operating officer of Lewis, which is a contract machine shop.
The last half of that effort involved the Grand Junction Economic Partnership, which worked with the city of Grand Junction and state of Colorado to aid the expansion.
“I think manufacturing nationally has taken a bit of a hit, so it’s really nice to have a local business that’s doing well and has the opportunity to expand,” said Ann Driggers, president and chief executive officer of the partnership.
Lewis, now with 42 employees, hopes to add 17 employees over the next two years. The company is owned by Mark and Lakeo Lewis. Mark Lewis is an engineer, and Lakeo Lewis has a business degree.
“Our overall business plan is for 10 percent growth annually,” Collins said, and the move from a building with 23,000 square feet to one with 66,000 square feet will make that possible.
“The building affords us the opportunity to accelerate that with the right customer,” he said.
Almost all of Lewis’ products are shipped out of Colorado and are used in the aerospace industry by Boeing, Airbus, Pratt & Whitney, General Electric, Sikorsky, Lockheed Martin and 3D Systems.
The proximity of the new building to Grand Junction Regional Airport will be convenient, but not a necessity, Collins said.
Incentives were “part of the puzzle” for Lewis, Driggers said, and will be based on the number of jobs, their wages and the amount of capital investment made by the company.