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|Articles - October 2012|
|Monday, September 24, 2012|
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A self-described “smaller to midsize” forging and casting company, Ulven Companies grossed about $37 million in 2011 — a figure Dan Ulven expects to increase about 20% this year. The combined companies employ 175, up from about 120 five years ago. To maintain that growth, Ulven has undertaken several new sales and manufacturing initiatives. These include “reenergizing” the Skookum product line, which has had “tremendous success” in defense — less so in the commercial sector, Ulven says. To help boost that market, Ulven Companies hired a new vice president of sales last year, and Skookum is aggressively promoting products such as blocks used by the utility industry.
Skookum also doubled its square footage a year and a half ago. A major expansion is under way at Wolf. Another development is a series of federal grants Ulven received through the Oregon Manufacturing Extension Partnership to help lead the forging plant through a lean manufacturing and administrative process. “We’re looking at our plant layout, cell layout and how efficiently you can pass that product through your manufacturing centers,” Ulven says. Along with new capital investments, the lean process has already helped boost sales by 37%, he says.
A proud made-in-the-USA manufacturer, Ulven touts the fact that he employs “hard-working Americans who actually make a product and not just a service.” But he also says finding qualified people is the company’s biggest challenge. The company has had several general, site and maintenance manager positions open for a few months, he says. To help grow talent, Ulven Companies recently partnered with Oregon State University’s engineering internship program. One of those interns was recently hired as Ulven’s first industrial engineer and has already helped Ulven Companies save $25,000 a year in natural gas bills, Ulven says.
Ulven himself started working for the company sweeping floors while in high school, then worked his way through the foundry and operations before focusing on new business development. Today the company is solidifying a generational change in leadership. Ulven’s younger brother, Mike, recently became COO, and his father is now chairman of the board. But the Ulven Companies’ focus remains the same: diversity in products, services and types of materials.
“My favorite part of the job is interacting with people and helping customers find innovative solutions,” Ulven says. The company’s versatility, he adds, “allows us to maintain business in good economies and bad.”
Friday, June 27, 2014
BY 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.
Thursday, July 24, 2014
BY CLIFF HOCKLEY | OB GUEST CONTRIBUTOR
With the increasing retirements of Baby Boomers, a massive real estate shift has created a significant increase in demand for NNN properties. The result? Increased demand has triggered higher prices and lower yields.
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Some people think Amazon’s winking eye logo is starting to look like a hoodwink.
Thursday, June 26, 2014
BY ERIC FRUTS | OB BLOGGER
Last year, the housing market in Oregon—and the U.S. as a whole—was blasting off. The Case-Shiller index of home prices ended the year 13% higher than at the beginning of the year. But, was last year a blip, or a trend?
Wednesday, July 02, 2014
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY | OB WEB EDITOR
Dress for Success Oregon promotes the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire, a network of support and career development tools.
Monday, July 07, 2014
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Named after the 2010 experiment by Thomas Ryan, "Robin Sages" are fake social media profiles designed to encourage linking and divulging valuable information.
Tuesday, July 08, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR
The New Yorker recently published a sharply worded critique of “disruptive innovation,” one of the most widely cited theories in the business world today. The article raises questions about the descriptive value of disruption and innovation — whether the terms are mere buzzwords or actually explain today's extraordinarily complex and fast changing business environment.
Update: We caught up with Portland's Thomas Thurston, who shared his data driven take on the disruption controversy.
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