Volume 18 | Issue 5 | Year 2015

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Phil Torchio, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the company, talks about how Cascade is hitting a new stride in 2015 with surging orders for business and an ensuing facility expansion on the way to help handle such. Steve Engelhardt reports.

It was in 1978 when Ted Hohlman decided to start his own casting business in Grand Rapids, Mich., purchasing a small shop and naming his company Cascade Die Casting. It was a strategic move, because at the time it represented the first casting business in the area, something of significance given the fact that the city is a only little over two hours west of Detroit, where the heart of America’s automotive industry lies. “By setting up shop in Grand Rapids, Ted was able to quickly grow the company, taking the business from a small supplier to a mid-size player in a relatively short period of time and putting the Cascade name on the national map.”

Shaping a Business
Several years later in 1985, Hohlman, seeing the potential of his company in the face of growing demand, made the decision to acquire three additional casting plants from a company called Interlake, giving the company a truly national presence with facilities now in High Point, N.C., Dallas, Texas, and Los Angeles, Calif., as well. For the next 14 years, the company continued to evolve itself along with the changing needs of the automotive market and beyond, expanding their services to a number of other industries as well. “In 1999, however, we found that most of our customers had either shifted to the east coast or were already there, and from a facility standpoint it simply didn’t make sense to continue to operate out of our locations in Dallas and Los Angeles,” says Torchio, who’s been with the company since 1988.

And it’s been better off as a result, as Cascade stands today as a corporation that employs nearly 250 individuals and generates over $36 million annually from its three zinc and aluminum casting facilities in Grand Rapids, Mich., and High Point, N.C.. Although with this level of success, the question begs itself, ‘Just what kind of casting solutions does Cascade provide?’

“Here at Cascade, we provide the expertise needed in high pressure aluminum and zinc die castings for the automotive and commercial industries in North America,” he says, adding, “From the beginning of the process, to the end, we deliver the high-integrity, quality finish, and value that our customers demand.”

Automotive Ally
With regards to the actual products they cast, Cascade can produce a wide variety of parts, including everything from mirror brackets and Class A decorative castings, to NVH brackets and engine covers. “We’ll make the castings, machine them, test them so they’re ready for assembly and then send them off to a tier-1 supplier,” Torchio says, continuing, “and while nearly all our components are highly regarded, if I had pinpoint a particular product we’re perhaps known the best for, it’d definitely be our side view mirror bases, which we manufacture for both passenger cars and trucks.”

In fact, Cascade is the leading manufacturer of side mirror bases—the component that attaches a car’s side view mirror to the door and holds it in place—for America’s automotive industry, and makes such components available in both zinc and aluminum material forms. Torchio says that they provide many of their casts in both versions, as each metal provides different advantages depending on the industry and the needs of theirs customer within such.

“The lightweight property of aluminum combined with its remarkable strength make it ideal for increasing safety by reducing mass in many applications, and its place in role casting is extensive,” he says, continuing, “It’s also recyclable, making it particularly well-suited for the transportation, medical, and electronics industries where ‘efficiency’ is demanded in a number of different ways.”

Zinc die casting, on the other hand, offers its own benefits for the industries it’s destined for. “Zinc die casting products can last many years, and beyond that customers are getting a product with a high yield and impact strength, extremely tight tolerance capability, and reduced casting cycle time,” he says, adding, “It really offers the best value if we’re talking about Class A and decorative applications.”

Strategic Production
The ability to perform both aluminum and zinc die casting allows Cascade to meet the needs of a diverse set of customers, but none of this would be possible without the company’s steadfast commitment to high-quality, reliable manufacturing that lies at the foundation of its success. “Supporting our ability to offer our assistance and services to our customers from the first step in the process to the end, is a manufacturing presence focused on quality and efficiency, anchored by a talented and dedicated workforce.”

Location is just as critical for Cascade, as while their aforementioned facilities in Grand Rapids, Mich., are close to Detroit, their facility in High Point is also in a strategic spot as well, given the heavy concentration of America’s automotive supply chain in neighboring Tennessee.

All of these aspects of Cascade Die Casting Group have combined to create a snowball of success that doesn’t look to stop growing any time soon. And the company isn’t sitting back, but rather putting their weight behind it, evidenced most recently by their decision to expand their facility in High Point. The move, which features a $6 million investment and looks to create 25 new, full-time jobs over the next two years and speaks to the company’s enthusiasm about their future in the area.

“In addition to the deep-seeded automotive supply chain in Tennessee, many of the major OEM’s are either shifting or opening up additional operations down south, and we felt an investment like this would greatly strengthen our ability to support such going forward,” Torchio says. He adds that while they considered opening up a new location in a state down south or even in Mexico, the assistance provided by the High Point Economic Development Corporation was what ultimately led to them staying and expanding their existing facility instead.

Keeping an eye on the future is key for any company’s sustained success, and Cascade looks to be aggressively addressing such, despite its already strong current position in the marketplace. And with a corporate philosophy that takes an uncompromising stance towards anything but producing the best value, the name Cascade will continue to serve and impact companies of all types for many years to come.

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