Sponsored by Oregon Business

Pump business weathers downturn

| Print |  Email
Articles - Jan/Feb 2012
Thursday, January 19, 2012

By Linda Baker

0112_PumpBusiness
The Ozawa pump delivers fertilizer and other chemicals into water systems. Pumps with multiple heads can pump up to four different materials.
//Photo courtesy Scott West

In the 20 years since Max Ozawa founded Ozawa R&D, a business that assembles precision metering pumps used in agriculture and food processing, the company has reduced its workforce and experienced a decline in manufacturing capacity. It survives by selling a premium product: relatively lightweight and long-lasting pumps that deliver precise amounts of fertilizer and other chemicals into water systems.

Most pumps on the market, which are made of steel or cast iron, don’t last more than two to three years because of chemical corrosion, says Ozawa. Deterioration also causes “issues of reliability.” To resolve these problems, Ozawa designed a “hybrid-type” pump with corrosive-resistant plastics and a “diaphragm” that separates the chemical from the piston. The resulting pump lasts up to 20 years and weighs only 30 pounds.

Although Ozawa declined to reveal company revenues, the bulk of his business comes from the agriculture industry, he says. He is also expanding into new markets, including industrial customers such as Ontario-based Heinz Frozen Food, where the pumps deliver additives for French fry processing. Other opportunities for diversification include golf courses, nurseries and seed treatment, Ozawa says.

About those challenges. Due to high labor costs, most of the parts are now made in Portland instead of onsite and a company that employed 15 in 2001 is now down to Ozawa, his brother and Ozawa’s wife. Price is another hurdle. The typical industrial pump costs about $400; Ozawa’s is about $1,500. Says Ozawa: “We’re faced with the attitude in any industry: ‘If it goes bad, just scrap it.’”

Ontario is a “nice rural community,” adds the former Portland denizen, who nevertheless expressed a bit of wistfulness about the area’s Mountain Time Zone and discontinued The Oregonian newspaper service. “Sometimes,” he says. “We’re treated like we’re not part of Oregon.”

 

More Articles

4 winners and losers in the Kitzhaber scandal

The Latest
Thursday, February 12, 2015
021315-govorno-thumbBY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Examining the governor's rapid fall from grace in a "bizarre" and "unprecedented" saga.


Read more...

Announcing the date of the 100 Best Green Workplaces in Oregon event

News
Friday, March 20, 2015
OBM-100-best-Green-logo-2015-250pxwBY OB STAFF

Join us to celebrate and network with Oregon’s best green workplaces!


Read more...

5 questions for inDinero CEO Jessica Mah

The Latest
Tuesday, March 31, 2015
jessicathumbBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

inDinero, a business that manages back-office accounting for startups and smaller companies, recently announced it would relocate its headquarters from San Francisco to Portland. We talked to CEO Jessica Mah about what drew her to Portland and how she plans to disrupt the traditional CPA model.


Read more...

How Oregon will survive the loss of Hanjin

March 2015
Friday, February 20, 2015
BY JOE CORTRIGHT | OB CONTRIBUTOR

"Shipping containers to Portland is like waiting for a bus that travels once a day."


Read more...

Bike Chic: 7 stylish options for cyclists

April 2015
Thursday, March 26, 2015

Cycling to work is all the rage. But not everyone wants to arrive at the office messy, sweaty — and unfashionable.


Read more...

Beam Me Up

April 2015
Thursday, March 19, 2015
BY DAN COOK | Photos by Jason E. Kaplan

An alliance of developers, academics and timber industry executives wants to position Oregon as a front runner in the glamorous new world of wooden skyscrapers.


Read more...

Are wolves good for business?

Contributed Blogs
Friday, March 06, 2015
030615-wolf-thumbBY JEFF DELKIN | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

As a local business owner, I believe it’s important to build our economy on a platform of conservation values.  


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS