Home Back Issues April 2012 Data dig: Is Oregon manufacturing really in decline?

Data dig: Is Oregon manufacturing really in decline?

| Print |  Email
Articles - April 2012
Thursday, March 22, 2012
Article Index
Data dig: Is Oregon manufacturing really in decline?
Page 2
Click on any graph to view larger.
0412_DataDig_Manufacturing
0412_DataDig_Machinery
0412_DataDig_Paper
0412_DataDig_PrimaryMetal
0412_DataDig_FabricatedMetal

 

In light of these obstacles, how can Oregon maintain its upward trajectory? Paradoxically, job-killing automation may reduce the need for off-shoring, says Beleiciks. “As labor becomes a smaller portion of the output then it makes for less of a need to go after cheaper labor by off-shoring. There has been a lot of talk recently about on-shoring.”

Two case studies spotlight this phenomenon — as well as a growing emphasis on workforce training to keep local manufacturers competitive. In 2010, Portland-based KEEN Footwear opened a footwear factory in the Rose City. CEO James Curleigh — who has been in Oregon’s spotlight after meeting with President Obama in January –— cites three reasons: First, duty and transportation rates; labor and material costs in Asia have escalated, so “the economics of building in America start to make a lot more sense.” Second, digital-age “supply chain acceleration” has prompted the company to want tighter control over capacity, sourcing and quality standards. And third, KEEN used the factory to launch the higher-priced Utility line of steel-toed boots for American workers, which incorporated innovations they wanted to protect. Initially, the factory employed about 15 workers, but since then, as Utility became KEEN’s fastest growing brand, employment has doubled and Curleigh expects to hire more.

Earth2o, bottler of natural spring water in Culver, is another growing Oregon manufacturer. Last summer, demand was so strong for its product that it had to pull back from sales in Japan and reinvest to expand capacity, says CEO Steve Emery. And now it’s opened sales in China. Emery has seen “an expansion of marketplace” for Oregon products. “My friends in the beverage or the food industries all have been expanding their geography whether it’s outside the region or outside the country.”

One way Earth2o made its product stand out was by training its workforce in the highest level of NSF Safe Quality Food certification. Earth2o isn’t alone in using workforce training to raise its profile. Agnes Balassa, a workforce policy adviser to the governor, points to groups of small manufacturers that have banded together in consortia in recent years for high-performance trainings such as lean manufacturing, which not only reduces waste and spurs efficiency, she says, but also trains “a workforce to be more focused on problem-solving, quality management, being actively engaged with the work.”

“One of the challenges for our entire education system,” says Balassa, “is this dialog that says ‘manufacturing is dying.’”  So students don’t tend to select into these programs … which will make it hard to sustain them.”

Why is it important to maintain skilled labor for manufacturers? These made-in-Oregon and exported out-of-state products bring “new money as opposed to circulating existing money,” says Balassa.  State economist Beleiciks agrees, adding, “even if they’re not exporting, if they’re off-setting imports, it will have a similar effect.”

So aside from creating jobs, in-state manufacturing boosts tax revenues, provides income to Oregon stakeholders and induces development of necessary infrastructure.

Bringing actual manufacturing jobs back to Oregon will be an uphill battle. KEEN and Earth2o are only two examples of Oregon companies at the leading edge that may bring domestic manufacturing back from the brink.

Brandon Sawyer is research editor for Oregon Business. He can be reached at brandons@oregonbusiness.com.

CORRECTION: This story was corrected on April 30, 2012, to change "outsouring mania" to "off-shoring mania" in the first paragraph. THE EDITORS.



 

Comments   

 
Mel White
0 #1 VP of Marketing and Business DevelopmentMel White 2012-04-16 11:53:06
I couldn't agree more. I co-manage a trade show design/manufact uring company in Portland, Classic Exhibits, with distribution throughout North America. Yes, it's tough being a manufacturer in the USA, but not impossible. You find niches that importers ignore or can't respond to fast enough, you source raw materials domestically and internationally , you look for strong partners, and you nurture a "can-do" culture. Mostly, you treat your customers as "customers" and not adversaries. No one is getting rich, but keeping folks employed has its spiritual rewards.
Quote | Report to administrator
 
 
Scott R Schroeder
0 #2 Offshoring vs OutsourcingScott R Schroeder 2012-04-16 14:17:38
@Brandon, your leading paragraph uses the term "OUTSOURCING". If you were only refering to the migration of jobs outside of the States, your use of that term creates confusion. The more accurate term is "OFFSHORING". "OUTSOURCING" can be both onshore and/or offshore.

Good article otherwise.

I own a Contract Manufacturing company in Corvallis,Orego n that relys on outsourcing. So I am biased and sensitive to the all too often confusion caused by the misuse of these terms.
Quote | Report to administrator
 
 
Brandon Sawyer
+1 #3 UPDATEBrandon Sawyer 2012-04-30 21:31:48
The word “out-sourcing” has been replaced by the more accurate term, “off-shoring,” in the opening paragraph of this article.
Quote | Report to administrator
 

More Articles

Hipsters gone wild

June 2014
Thursday, May 29, 2014
BY JON BELL

A new generation of outdoor apparel companies targets the young and the urban.


Read more...

Green Your Workplace seminar held at Nines Hotel

News
Wednesday, May 28, 2014

GreenYourWorkplacelogoOBMOregon Business magazine's  "Green Your Workplace" seminar featured a panel of sustainability experts from small, medium and large organizations. The seminar drew 70 people and took place in the Nines Hotel this morning.


Read more...

The global challenge

News
Friday, June 27, 2014
062714 thumb globalmarketBY JASON NORRIS | OB BLOGGER

Over the last several months we have seen a wave of cross-border acquisitions, primarily U.S.-based companies looking to purchase non-U.S.-based companies. There are a few reasons for this, but the main culprit is the U.S. corporate tax system. The United States has one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world.


Read more...

Understanding Oregon medical marijuana dispensary tenants

News
Friday, June 13, 2014
061314 thumb grassrentBY CLIFF HOCKLEY | OB GUEST BLOGGER

This article summarizes the key considerations a building owner must keep in mind when thinking about leasing to a medical marijuana dispensary.


Read more...

The business of running a food cart

News
Thursday, June 05, 2014
OBM1BY HANNAH WALLACE | OB BLOGGER

What does it take to launch and run one of these mobile food businesses?  


Read more...

2014 Best Green Companies to Work For announced

News
Wednesday, May 28, 2014

100BestGreenMore than 350 people turned out today for Oregon Business magazine’s sixth annual celebration of the 100 Best Green Companies to Work For in Oregon.


Read more...

EPA Standards: A breath of fresh air for the region

News
Thursday, June 12, 2014
EPABY ANDREA DURBIN | OB GUEST BLOGGER

Last week, the Obama administration took an important and welcomed step in the effort to protect the health and well-being of all Oregonians by limiting carbon pollution from existing power plants.


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