CoorsTek flows with time, industry changes

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GOLDEN, Colo. (AP) Machines with constantly moving parts spit out off-white pieces of all shapes and sizes.

The porcelain pieces change from room to room in the 120,000-square-foot factory, as workers mold, measure, fire and etch parts that will go into everything from chip-making machines to medical devices.

Just like the family and companies that came before, Golden-based CoorsTek Inc. prides itself on changing with the times and diversifying its products to keep business humming.

CoorsTek has its roots in brewery magnate Adolph Coors' 1910 purchase of Golden-based Herold China & Pottery Co., a maker of oven-safe porcelain dishes. During World War I, the English Navy blockaded the North Sea and eliminated trade with Germany, the country that until then had provided chemical and scientific porcelain.

Herold China, later renamed Coors Ceramics, jumped in to fill the void. During Prohibition, ceramics sales helped keep the brewing family afloat. Later, the company added metal component making to its repertoire.

Eventually, the company became part of ACX Technologies Inc., and last year it was spun off as an independent, publicly traded company. While Coors family members and trusts own the largest chunk of stock, John Coors is the only insider who sits on the board of directors.

Today, the manufacturer has 17 facilities worldwide that make parts of things from big components that go into semiconductor-making machines to tiny flat ceramic cups that hold cochlear implants to disks the circumference of a poker chip that help run automotive fuel systems.

''We do a wide range of ceramic manufacturing,'' said President and Chief Executive Officer John K. Coors, great-grandson of brewery founder Adolph. ''And anything that can be done can be done right here in Golden.''

Almost half of the company's 2000 revenue came from sales of parts and assemblies to companies that make semiconductor capital equipment, the machines that create computer chips, up from 30.4 percent in 1999.

The company credits the increase to an incredible jump in demand last year, as well as to the expanded capacity it gained through growth and strategic acquisitions in 1999 and 2000.

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