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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.”
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Friday, October 02, 2015
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Our intrepid (and expecting) research editor finds the child care search involves long waiting lists, costly fees and no certainty of securing a place before she goes back to work.
Wednesday, August 26, 2015
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Child care in Oregon is expensive and hard to find. We delved into the numbers and talked to a few executives and managers about day care costs, accessibility and work-life balance.
Thursday, August 20, 2015
BY JOE CORTRIGHT
We get the education we deserve.
Tuesday, August 18, 2015
BY JASON NORRIS | CFA
Earlier this month, the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) announced they were going to devalue their currency, the Renminbi. While the amount of the targeted change was to be roughly 2 percent, investors read a lot more into the move. The Renminbi had been gradually appreciating against the U.S. dollar (see chart) as to attempt to alleviate concerns of being labeled a currency manipulator.
Thursday, September 10, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR
The Oregon Office of Economic Analysis released a report on the vitality of rural Oregon this week. Media reports focused on the number of Californians moving to the "Timber Belt," but the document contained other interesting insights regarding regional challenges and successes.
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER
In 2010 Vanessa Keitges and several investors purchased Portland-based Columbia Green Technologies, a green-roof company. The 13-person firm has a 200% annual growth rate, exports 30% of its product to Canada and received its first infusion of venture capital in 2014 from Yaletown Venture Partners. CEO Keitges, 40, a Southern Oregon native who serves on President Obama’s Export Council, talks about market innovation, scaling small business and why Oregon is falling behind in green-roof construction.
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