|| Print ||
|Articles - October 2013|
|Monday, September 30, 2013|
Page 2 of 4
Though many of Oregon’s bread-and-butter manufacturers operate in hole-in-the-wall spaces most locals don’t know about, the global marketplace pits them against large overseas companies that rely on high-volume transactions and cheap labor.
As the last company in the U.S. producing whisks for restaurant suppliers and kitchen supply stores, 14-employee Best Manufacturers in Portland competes against large distributors importing from China that offer both bulk discounts and a variety of kitchen products along with the wire whippers.
“Stores and restaurant suppliers want to buy 100 different items from the same company, not each item from a different company,” says owner John Merrifield. For Best products to even make it into stores, he says, “at the corporate level, someone has to care whether they’re buying an American-made product.”
Though globalization applies constant pressure to gritty Oregon manufacturers, the forces that work against them — namely, their often diminutive size and Oregon location — can work to their advantage too.
Specializing in the harnesses that hold the engine wires of industrial or military transportation equipment, the 40-employee AmFor Electronics in Portland often finds itself beaten out by larger companies in Mexico. Still, AmFor has been able to leverage its U.S. location to win back clients.
“Our per-piece price is higher, but companies are getting more savvy to looking at the entire process from start to finish,” says Jesse Oliver, president of sales. When they consider the possibility of smaller lots, shorter lead times and quicker fixes to quality issues, they realize the total cost of a stateside manufacturer can actually be cheaper. “The challenge is finding those companies that see the value in the total landed cost methodology,” Oliver says.
Don Riddle of Applied Plastics Machining in Portland also builds his business on advantages farther-flung companies have a hard time achieving. In his 12-person machine shop on a recent afternoon, one employee attached wheels to the base of a clear plastic jeweler’s stool, a second screen-printed a logo onto a gas station snack-food holder, and a third flame-polished the edges of a Plexiglas cake riser that will eventually display Jockey underwear.
Riddle often works 60 to 70 hours a week and, if necessary, tears over to the UPS distribution center at midnight to ensure his clients prompt deliveries. “We’re too flexible for the big guys,” says Riddle. “If you need something at 3 o’clock this afternoon, I can do that. No manufacturer in China can do that.”
Pacific Overhead Door (PACDOOR), just around the corner from Applied Plastics, adjusted its business model to similarly take advantage of its edge. Years ago, the company sold $200 mass-produced garage doors, but realizing that large national corporations were better equipped to satisfy mainstream demand, it began offering $2,000-plus carriage-style doors specifically tailored to customers’ needs.
“We are constantly under assault by outside competition all over the country,” owner Steve Harris says. “They sometimes can sell commodity doors at a cheaper price, but they can’t sell custom doors and provide custom services nearly as competitively as we can sitting in our Portland home base, selling to people in the Portland metropolitan region.”
While outsourcing has long been a no-brainer for companies looking to increase profit margins, Scherer says, that is changing. ”The gap in what the true costs are of producing in the U.S. versus offshore is narrowing. For a while it was such a wide gap: Something that cost a buck here was three cents there.” But as American productivity stays high and Chinese wages increase, “it’s no longer an automatic decision,” he says. “This is affecting even the littlest guys.”
Thursday, November 12, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER
I walked off the Vigor Industrial shipyard that day with a clear cover line in mind: the Love Boat.
Thursday, October 08, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER
In an era dominated by self-promotion and marketing speak, John Bradley, CEO of R&H Construction, is a breath of fresh air.
Tuesday, November 17, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER
The past month has been marked by upheaval in the health insurance markets. I also check in on clients of the Export-Import bank, a federal credit agency that subsidizes, and insures, foreign exports.
Friday, October 30, 2015
BY CHRIS NOBLE | ART DIRECTOR
Wednesday, November 11, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER
“What we’ve seen traditionally over the past few decades is a reduction of short line railroads. This is a rare opportunity to see a line being opened.”
Tuesday, October 27, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR
Several Portland entrepreneurs make appearance in patently silly "The Dream of the Startup is Alive in Oregon" promo.
Wednesday, October 28, 2015
BY AMY MILSHTEIN
Oregon's first generation of food entrepreneurs created a brand based on quality and craftsmanship. Can the second generation sustain it?
|The Love Boat|
|The Food Pod Grows Up|
|The High Road|
|Tinker, Tailor, Portland Maker|
|The Shift to Community Health Care|
|The Harder They Fall|
|Obama strikes optimistic tone on climate change|
|ISIS social mobilization 'unprecedented'|
|Senate Finance Committee scrutinizes museum tax status|
|IAAF president steps down from position with Nike|
|Another chapter to the Bezos/Musk space race story|
|Thanksgiving travel: Fuel costs low, terrorism anxiety high|
|Costco chicken salad linked to E. coli case in Washington|
Advances in technology are reshaping the health care landscape. For patients, technologies such as 3D printing and advanced genomics are offering bold new treatment options for life-threatening illnesses and injuries. However, technology is not only revolutionizing patient care; it is also transforming the way health care administrators optimize resources, streamline processes, and improve patient and employee satisfaction.
Economic diversity has proven a smart strategy for the Port of Hood River. How can other Oregon communities replicate the model?
Phone, Internet needs of small community school districts earn attention of top-five telecom provider.
Justin E. Hobson has joined Lane Powell’s Portland office as an Attorney in the Firm’s Taxation Practice Group. Prior to joining Lane Powell, Hobson worked as an International Tax Manager for PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP’s International Tax Services team.
Learn about MBA options, including online and Saturday programs.
Health insurer expects new customer-friendly waterfront location to open by April.