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|Articles - Jan/Feb 2012|
|Thursday, January 19, 2012|
By Linda Baker
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.”
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
BY CLIFF HOCKLEY | OB GUEST CONTRIBUTOR
Proposed regulations protect Portland’s strict zoning codes and hotel operators, but they may have an adverse effect on Airbnb’s business.
Thursday, February 27, 2014
BY ERIC FRUITS
Because they have little chance of working for someone else, today’s teens need to be entrepreneurs. But, first, we must teach our teens that entrepreneurship starts small.
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
BY SOPHIA BENNETT
The coastal town of Coos Bay appears poised to land every economic development director’s dream: a single employer that will bring hundreds of family-wage jobs and millions in tax revenue.
Thursday, April 17, 2014
BY JASON NORRIS | OB BLOGGER
The “polar vortex” of 2014 seems to have finally thawed and we believe this change in weather will bring more sunshine to the U.S. economy as well.
Friday, March 28, 2014
BY TOM COX | OB BLOGGER
The next mysterious (or disastrous) event could be one that you or your team might suddenly need to respond to, probably under intense scrutiny.
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
In this issue, we celebrate our 21st annual 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon project.
Tuesday, April 01, 2014
BY APRIL STREETER | OB CONTRIBUTOR
Three years ago, PPS set out to begin to convert the 1930s-era boilers from diesel/bunker fuel to cleaner-burning natural gas. Oregon’s largest school district has realized impressive carbon dioxide emissions reductions, setting an example for public and private institutions.
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