Home Back Issues October 2012 Forging ahead

Forging ahead

| Print |  Email
Articles - October 2012
Monday, September 24, 2012
Article Index
Forging ahead
Page 2
1012 Tactics 02
1012 Tactics 03
Photos by Leah Nash

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.”



 

More Articles

Election Season

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014

We didn’t intend this issue to have an election season theme. But politics has a way of seeping into the cracks and fissures.


Read more...

True Blood

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

Antibiotics really aren’t magic bullets.


Read more...

Innovation: a critique

News
Wednesday, October 08, 2014
1008 innovation thumbBY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

A Design Week panel discussion raises questions about how innovative we really are.


Read more...

Knight Vision

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
BY VIVIAN MCINERNY

Travis Knight wants to release a movie a year. Can he pull it off?


Read more...

The 100 Best Companies survey is open

News
Friday, October 24, 2014

100-best-logo-2015 500pxw-1How does your workplace stack up against competitors? How can you improve workplace practices to help recruit and retain employees? Find out by taking our 100 Best Companies to Work for in Oregon survey!


Read more...

Kill the Meeting

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

Meetings get a bad rap. A few local companies make them count.


Read more...

Measure 91: What Oregon Businesses Need to Know

Contributed Blogs
Wednesday, October 15, 2014
91 thumbBY DIANE BUISMAN

Some common misconceptions employers have about marijuana.


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