Bellingham's Pro CNC sold to international firm

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDFebruary 5, 2014 

Pro CNC, Theo Wanne

Pro CNC machinist Brian Eastman works on a Theo Wanne saxophone mouthpiece in their Bellingham shop, April 11, 2012. The Theo Wanne company makes mouthpieces for saxophones and clarinets.

PHILIP A. DWYER — THE BELLINGHAM HERALD Buy Photo

BELLINGHAM - A longtime local machine shop was sold to an international company that is intent on growing it in this area.

Trulife, which has its corporate headquarters in Dublin, Ireland, acquired Bellingham's Pro CNC at the end of January. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Trulife has focused on manufacturing medical devices but has been looking to diversify its product line, said Noel Murphy, executive chairman for Trulife. The company has a similar facility in Poulsbo.

Pro CNC manufactures a variety of products at its facility in the Cordata district. Recently it's been making metal door parts for the Boeing 787 as well as high-end saxophone pieces, said Paul Van Metre, one of the original founders of the company. He is staying on as vice president of sales and marketing, while the other two owners, Kelsey Heikoop and Darcy Hughes, have started a computer software company.

Van Metre said no other changes are expected initially: The Pro CNC name will remain for now and it is hiring more employees. Currently the workforce is around 70, Van Metre said.

Pro CNC has been on a variety of lists in recent years, including fastest-growing. In 2012 it won a Silver Award for Manufacturer of the Year in the small company category from Seattle Business Magazine.

Last year it did about $10 million in sales.

Murphy agreed that it will be business as usual at Pro CNC, but in the next few months they will be analyzing how best to use the combined talents of the two companies and enhance the customer experience.

The owners of Pro CNC decided to sell for several reasons, according to Van Metre. While the company survived the recent economic downturn, it was a difficult experience and they felt the company couldn't make it through a rough patch like that again unless it had deeper reserves. Also, the 17-year-old company had reached its adolescent stage of development, and the owners felt they didn't have the experience and financial backing to take it to the next level.

In looking for a buyer, Van Metre said they chose Trulife because its company culture was similar to Pro CNC, even though it wasn't the top financial offer.

"We knew (Pro CNC) would be in the best hands by going with Trulife," he said.

For details about Trulife, visit trulife.com. Pro CNC's website is procnc.com.

Reach Business Editor Dave Gallagher at 360-715-2269 or dave.gallagher@bellinghamherald.com. Read the Business Blog at bellinghamherald.com/business-blog or get updates on Twitter at @bhamheraldbiz.

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