Home Back Issues October 2012 Forging ahead

Forging ahead

| Print |  Email
Articles - October 2012
Monday, September 24, 2012
Article Index
Forging ahead
Page 2

BY LINDA BAKER

1012 Tactics 01
Dan Ulven, president of The Ulven Companies.
// Photos by Leah Nash

In 1971 Ulven Forging was a single company that forged hooks, shackles and logging tongs for timber harvesting. Forty years later, the Hubbard-based metal components manufacturer has evolved into The Ulven Companies, a family of four individual businesses catering to the oil and gas, maritime, and defense industries — as well as other markets that have a need for Ulven’s casting, forging, machining and rigging supplies.

In 2012 the Ulven group continues to grow and diversify. The companies already support an array of manufacturing capabilities, from traditional blacksmithing to robotic welding. Now Ulven executives are expanding physical-plant capacity and implementing new marketing and lean manufacturing initiatives. The goal is to become more efficient, help recruit top talent and develop new products for contemporary applications.

“We’ve had tremendous growth, but we lacked good organizational systems and processes,” says president Dan Ulven. Coupled with significant capital investments, the decision to streamline administrative and shop procedures is “generating great results,” he says, noting that in the past year and a half, the company has already boosted sales and “become more competitive.”

The Ulven Companies
President: Dan Ulven
Founded: 1971
Employees: 175
Fun fact: Manufactures more than 5,000 discrete parts

Located on 35 acres in Whiskey Hill, Ulven’s family-owned businesses consist of Ulven Forging, Skookum, Wolf Steel Foundry, and Houston Structures. Operating four companies as individual corporations allows Ulven to offer more manufacturing capabilities and product lines while also enabling efficiencies gained through vertical integration, Ulven says. The different companies also reflect Ulven’s strategy of acquiring niche businesses that allow the Ulven group to expand into new industries.

Wolf Steel, for example, was acquired in 1988, adding casting capabilities to the Ulven forging plant. Houston Structures specializes in engineered packages for suspension bridges; the company supplied the vertical cable assembly for the St. Johns and Sauvie Island bridges in the Portland metro area. Skookum, a former competitor founded in 1890, produces blocks and shackles for the offshore oil and gas and the defense industries.

“Early in the company’s history, my father recognized the need to be diversified,” says Ulven, 39, who succeeded paternal company founder Andy Ulven as president two years ago. “Right now, the oil and gas markets are really strong, so we are focusing on that,” Ulven says. But when those markets enter a down cycle, Ulven will have other businesses to sell to. “Everything is countercyclical,” says Ulven.



 

More Articles

The Backstory

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014

In our cover story this month, Wendy Collie, CEO of New Seasons Market, and Kim Malek, owner of Salt & Straw, discuss their rapidly growing businesses and Portland’s red hot food scene. The conversation provides an interesting lens through which to explore trends in the grocery store and restaurant sectors.


Read more...

A Complex Portrait: Immigration, Jobs and the Economy

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

Oregon Business reports on the visa squeeze, the skills gap and foreign-born residents who are revitalizing rural Oregon.


Read more...

The 100 Best Nonprofits to Work for in Oregon 2014

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
BY KIM MOORE

Proud, diverse and underpaid.

Pride in their organizations’ mission, fairness in the treatment of women and ethnic minorities, flexible work schedules — these are just a handful of workplace characteristics that employees of this year’s 100 Best Nonprofits appreciate about their organizations.


Read more...

Gone Girl

News
Monday, September 29, 2014
roundup-logo-thumb-14BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

Wehby disappears, Kitzhaber fails to disclose and Seattle gets bike share before Portland.


Read more...

A Recipe for Success

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER

Two businesswomen, two iconic food brands and one food-obsessed city. We thought this sounded like a recipe for good conversation. So in late August, Oregon Business sat down with Wendy Collie, CEO of New Seasons Market, and Kim Malek, owner of Salt & Straw, to discuss their rapidly expanding businesses and Oregon’s trendsetting food scene.


Read more...

True Blood

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
BY JOE ROJAS-BURKE

Antibiotics really aren’t magic bullets.


Read more...

OB Poll: Wineries and groceries

News
Friday, October 24, 2014

24-winethumbA majority of respondents agreed: Local vineyards should remain Oregon-owned and quality is the most important factor when determining where to eat or buy groceries.


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