Manufacturing in the Greater Lehigh Valley is a prevalent industry that continues to attract a strong workforce from the region and beyond.
Companies even relocated here after seeing the success of others and the benefits offered by the region.
Easy access to major markets and cities, including New York and Philadelphia, make the Greater Lehigh Valley attractive for manufacturers to do business, and each one has a direct impact on the region’s economy.
Here to answer this week’s “Behind the List” questions is Andrea Funk, CEO of the copper-focused manufacturing plant near Leesport in Ontelaunee Township, Cambridge-Lee Industries LLC.
Lehigh Valley Business: How long has Cambridge-Lee Industries LLC been operating in the region and what are its primary services?
Andrea Funk: Cambridge-Lee is the copper-focused manufacturer and distributor for the plumbing, heating, ventilation and air conditioning, construction, industrial and original equipment manufacturer markets.
Our local ancestry dates back to 1942, when Reading Tube was founded. In 1996, Reading Tube was acquired by Cambridge-Lee Industries, a distributor of copper products, and the company’s headquarters were established in Leesport … where our manufacturing campus is located. We continue to act as a distributor through our Industrial Metals Division, where we source customers across the United States with copper-focused products manufactured by other companies.
For example, we sell architectural copper sheet to contractors, copper rod and bar to businesses like East Penn Manufacturing for their battery assembly, and tellurium copper to companies like Hypertherm in New Hampshire for their torch tips in the welding industry.
The other two sales divisions source copper tubing that we manufacture all right here in Berks County. We sell copper tubing to the plumbing wholesale market, where we enjoy a 25 percent share of the U.S. market, and copper tubing to the air conditioning and refrigeration markets.
LVB: What have been some of the biggest hardships and opportunities that Cambridge-Lee has encountered throughout its years in business?
Funk: When the price of copper began to rise, substitution became an issue as much of the residential market switched to inferior plastic tubing.