Forging ahead

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

Umbrella Revolution

March 2015
Monday, February 23, 2015

Yeah, we know: Oregonians are way too cool for umbrellas. But today’s stylish, high-tech models will soften the resistance of the most rain hardened.


Read more...

Light Moves

February 2015
Monday, January 26, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER

Fittingly, Light at Play — a business whose sole purpose is to create mesmerizing ambience — was conceived at Burning Man.


Read more...

That's Not a Watch (This Is a Watch)

February 2015
Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Smartwatches are all the rage. But old-fashioned timepieces keep on ticking.


Read more...

All Rise

March 2015
Friday, February 20, 2015
BY AMY MILSHTEIN | OB CONTRIBUTOR

Don’t just sit there. For a healthy workplace, move up and down — and all around.


Read more...

Party Like It’s 1999

Contributed Blogs
Wednesday, February 25, 2015
pets-com-sock-puppetBY JASON NORRIS, CFA | OB GUEST BLOGGER

Pets.com, GeoCities, eToys, and WorldCom … blasts-from-the-past that all signify the late 1990s Internet bubble. Yet we believe the dynamics of the market, specifically in technology stocks, are much different today than it was during the late 1990s.


Read more...

The 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon

March 2015
Thursday, February 26, 2015
BY KIM MOORE | OB RESEARCH EDITOR

Employment in Oregon is almost back up to prerecession levels — and employers are having to work harder to entice talented staff to join their ranks. This year’s 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon project showcases the kind of quality workplaces that foster happy employees. 


Read more...

A legislative preview — and celebration

Linda Baker
Friday, January 23, 2015
012315-speaker-thumbBY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

The Northwest Environmental Business Council previews the 2015 legislative agenda as Hatch Oregon celebrates Oregon's new community crowdfunding rules.


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