Thresher to End Aluminum Casting

March 23, 2011
New business direction will focus on aluminum metal-matrix composites
Thresher Industries Inc. is discontinuing production of aluminum castings and “re-branding” to shift its focus to its other major product line, metal-matrix composite components. The new business strategy will promote Thresher’s proprietary ThermaLite metal-matrix composite aluminum technology for prototyping for high-volume manufacturing programs. Another emphasis will be “Beta site development across multiple verticals worldwide,” according to the company’s statement. President and CEO Tom Flessner explained that Thresher is discontinuing a strategy that involved “conventional cast products and some metal matrix composites that are typically low-margin products. “Our re-branding and restructuring positions us as a composite aluminum company and shifts our focus to the production of these specific MMCs that are designed specifically for the customers' needs, and further assisting the customer in prototyping of these high-margin, niche products that they will then produce in high volumes elsewhere using our materials and paying Thresher a licensing fee." Flessner said the company developed the new strategy over the past six months. It plans to promote licensed production of its ThermaLite technology, which it said could cut in half the weight of finished parts while preserving material strength. He also said Thresher has identified the top five applications for ThermaLite metal matrix alloys, and assigned sales representatives to promote the material and to establish potential partnerships in the respective markets. Hanford, CA-based Thresher Industries has grown its MMC technology over recent years, but it sought to develop capabilities for producing castings in both materials. It promoted applications in automotive markets (like automotive water pumps, torque boxes, engine cradles, and suspension components) as well as niche applications like LED lighting fixtures. Thresher also endured some well-publicized financial irregularities, including an unsuccessful plan to sell itself to an investor in 2010. "Thresher's brand name is strong in the MMC industry due to its almost 20 years of experience working with MMC aluminum castings, and we are excited to execute this new direction,” Flessner said. “We already have begun to see a change in how we are perceived by our customers. We believe we can generate significant revenues coupled with even higher profit margins for our company, while creating significant competitive advantages for our customers.”