On the Job with Composite Products CEO

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Jake Coochise. Photo: Dave McMechan/Spilyay Tymoo.

Jake Coochise started working at Warm Springs Composite Products back in 1997. His first job with Composite Products was on the production floor.

He had just graduated from Willamette University with a degree in Business and Economics. So at first Jake was thinking the production floor job would be short term.

But Composite Products turned out to be a good place to work; so he stayed on, learning more about Tectonite and how Composite manufactures its world-class fire-rated doors.

Jake worked on the production floor for six years in various capacities, and then moved in to a sales position.

At the time all of the Composite sales were in the United States, as all of the testing of the fire-rated doors was to U.S. standards.

Jake learned about the British standard for the doors, and which other countries follow the British standard. He made contacts with people from the Commerce Department, and in time a whole new market—countries in the fast-growing Middle East—opened up to Composite Products.

Jake became the director of global marketing, building business relationships with companies in places like Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

The overseas sales are now more than a third of Composite Products overall business. This helped the enterprise weather the bad economic post-2008.

Earlier this year, Duane Darnell retired from full-time work as the Composite Products chief executive officer. The enterprise board this summer chose Jake as the next CEO.

Jake now oversees the overall operation, and remains the lead person in the global sales aspect of the business.

Composite Products employs 44 people. The plant operates in two shifts. About 80 percent of the employees are tribal members or other Natives living on the reservation.

The architectural fire-rated doors—used in office buildings, hotels, and other commercial buildings—are the main product at Composite Products. The enterprise also produces some secondary wood products, and most recently is looking into developing an acoustic door component.

Acoustic doors are sound-proof, and there appears to be a growing market for these doors in the Middle East, Jake said.

Jake is a Madras High School graduate who grew up in Warm Springs. His mother is Libby Chase of Warm Springs, and his father is Elbridge Coochise of Arizona.