Forging ahead

| Print |  Email
Articles - October 2012
Monday, September 24, 2012

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

Car be gone

Linda Baker
Thursday, August 06, 2015
070615car2goblogthumbBY LINDA BAKER

Car and ride sharing services have taken urban areas by storm. Low-income and suburban communities are left at the curb.


Read more...

Is there life beyond Reed?

September 2015
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
BY GARY THILL | PHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN

A storied institution climbs down from the ivory tower.


Read more...

Photo Log: Waterfront Blues Festival

The Latest
Thursday, July 09, 2015
bluesfestthumbBY JASON E. KAPLAN | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

The sweltering weather didn't keep the crowds away. Although the numbers were down slightly from last year, the Oregon Food Bank raised $850,636 to fight hunger.  About 80,000 people attended despite temperatures in the upper 90s.


Read more...

Flattery with Numbers

July/August 2015
Friday, July 10, 2015
BY JOE CORTRIGHT

The false promise of economic impact statements.


Read more...

The Cover Story

Linda Baker
Thursday, August 27, 2015
01-cover-0915-thumbBY LINDA BAKER

How do you put a baby on the cover of a business magazine without it looking too cutesy?


Read more...

Money Troubles

September 2015
Thursday, August 20, 2015
BY DAN COOK

The state’s angel investing fund gets hammered in Salem.


Read more...

Baby. Boom!

September 2015
Wednesday, August 26, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER

A new co-working model disrupts office sharing, child care and work-life balance as we know it.


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