Sponsored by Energy Trust

Oregon Aero boosts Scappoose

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

By Jon Bell

0112_OregonAero_01
Above: Oregon Aero has expanded into aircraft seating and anchors a growing aerospace cluster at the Scappoose Industrial Airpark. Below: Oregon Aero's aviation and ballistic helmet upgrade kits were in high demand of the onset of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
0112_OregonAero_03

For years after its founding in 1989, Oregon Aero remained a small company that designed and manufactured helmet cushions and other products.

But when the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq accelerated and the U.S. military wanted its ballistic helmets upgraded with Oregon Aero’s kits, the business took off.

“Initially the military said they would need 5,000 a month,” says Tony Erickson, Oregon Aero’s chief operating officer, “but it grew to 50,000 to 60,000 a month.” Though that pace has since tapered off, the rapid growth — revenue grew from $6.9 million in 2002 to $28.5 million in 2004 — meant that Oregon Aero needed to expand, and fast. As a result, the company grew into several different buildings throughout the early 2000s: two at the Scappoose Industrial Airpark, two in St. Helens and one more in Salem.

Oregon Aero, which employs about 75 people, is now consolidating at least some of its operations in a new 22,000-square-foot building that the Port of St. Helens is building just across the way at the airpark. The company will move its St. Helens operations into the new building this summer and lease it from the port.

Besides increasing employee efficiency, the new building and its larger hangar will allow Oregon Aero to work on bigger aircraft, including large jets and twin-engine planes.  It will also give the company more room to work on the markets it has expanded into — heavy-lift helicopters, for one — to make up for the faltering general aviation industry, which plunged nearly 60% during the recession. In addition to its military clients in the U.S., Norway and other countries, Oregon Aero also counts well-known aircraft companies like Cessna and Van’s Aircraft among its customer base.

Oregon Aero’s new facility is also setting the stage for what could be a flurry of new industrial activity near the airpark. Already home to a handful of small aerospace companies, such as Composites Universal Group, Sherpa Aircraft Manufacturing and Sport Copter International, the airpark sits next to 240 acres recently added to the city’s urban growth boundary. If the state approves the expansion, the new land could attract any number of companies looking for a home in the metro region. Portland Community College is already talking about a $2.2 million classroom center on 20 of the acres.

David Stocker, CEO of the Columbia County Economic Team, says it all points to some big possibilities for Scappoose, an old timber and farming town of 6,800 that’s evolved into a bedroom community just 20 miles north of Portland. Not only is the airport in a unique position for expansion, but Scappoose and Columbia County now boast some attractive business incentives as well. Last January, Scappoose expanded an existing enterprise zone, which exempts manufacturers from property taxes for three years, and Columbia County is the only metro area county that qualifies for the Oregon Investment Advantage program, which grants new businesses a multi-year income tax holiday.

“This little town with a funny name is going to be the Portland metro region’s next big economic development opportunity,” Stocker says.

 

More Articles

The Bookseller

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY AMY MILSHTEIN

Everyone knows college is expensive, but a look at the numbers brings that into sharp — and painful — focus.


Read more...

Reimagining education to solve Oregon's student debt and underemployment problems

News
Thursday, November 13, 2014
carsonstudentdept-thumbBY RYAN CARSON | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

How do we skill up our future technology workforce in a smart way to take advantage of these high-paying jobs? The answer shouldn’t focus only on helping people get a bachelor’s degree.


Read more...

Healthcare pullback

News
Thursday, November 20, 2014
112014-boehnercare-thumbBY JASON NORRIS | OB CONTRIBUTOR

Each month for Oregon Business, we assess factors that are shaping current capital market activity—and what they mean to investors. Here we take a look at two major developments regarding possible rollbacks of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).


Read more...

Fly Zone

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY JOE ROJAS-BURKE

The black soldier fly’s larvae are among the most ravenous and least picky eaters on earth.


Read more...

The short list: Holiday habits of six Oregon CEOs

The Latest
Thursday, December 11, 2014
121214-xmaslist1BY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

We ask business and nonprofit leaders how they survive the season.


Read more...

The short list: 4 companies engaged in a battle of the paddles

The Latest
Thursday, December 04, 2014
pingpongthumbBY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Nothing says startup culture like a ping pong table in the office, lounge or lobby.


Read more...

Shuffling the Deck

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY JON BELL

Oregon tribes still bet on casinos.


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