Site Selection Magazine features Cambridge-Lee Industries, LLC. located in Greater Reading, PA.

Location advantages at Site B must be pretty significant if they outweigh $5 million worth of already-purchased land and improvements at Site A. In this Site Selection Spreadcase, Site B is on Tube Drive in Reading, Pa., where Cambridge-Lee Industries (CLI) LLC makes copper tubing for the plumbing and construction industries. In late 2013, CLI opened a $65-million tubing plant at its Reading campus after a newly opened, state-ofthe- art factory in Mexico was forced to close and relocate due to an antidumping suit against the importation of copper tubing from Mexico and China.

The Reading site’s advantages are significant: a widely available supply of skilled workers with the right skill sets, low energy costs and a community determined to help new projects become operational quickly. The other location option, Site A, was a property in Laredo, Texas, that CLI’s Mexican parent company, Grupo IUSA, already owned.

“IUSA had also looked at Florida,” says Andrea Funk, Cambridge-Lee’s CEO. “Part of what they were lookingat was where the customer base was and where materials get shipped in from. But the main options were Laredo and Greater Reading.” Both options have a relatively low cost of living — Laredo’s is lower than Reading’s, notes Funk. But access to Pennsylvania’s workforce tipped the balance in Greater Reading’s favor. And an existing CLI property in Reading — Leesport, specifically — with several plants already operating had room for one more.

It’s Still Cast & Roll to Me
That’s where the Eagle Plant, specializing in “cast & roll” production, landed and has been producing high-end copper tubing, requiring copper cathode (the purest copper), since late 2013. The new facility brings CLI’s Reading area workforce to 428.

Funk explains the significance of cast & roll: “This new technology allows you to make copper tubing with much greater precision. In the plumbing market, that doesn’t make a big difference. But in the industrial HVAC market, you draw the tubes down to very thin walls, and sometimes you put in inner groove tube patterns. The state-of-the-art copper tubing that’s required for very high-tech tubing that goes inside HVAC units really needs cast & roll technology.”

It also needs workers who can apply it.

“We were not confident we would find the technical skills in Laredo when we looked into it,” Funk recalls. “We need engineers, people with metallurgy experience, maintenance technicians, electricians and other skilled trades. Pennsylvania has a very rich manufacturing history — a lot of that skilled trade base is right here. It also has a great metals history with so many steel companies here in the state and a lot of metal companies and people who know how to support the metal industry, with extrusion presses and finishing equipment and machine shops that can make tools and so forth. The whole support network you need for this industry is here.

To read the full article, download it here.

This article was written by Mark Arend and originally appeared in Site Selection magazine’s March 2015 issue.