Home Back Issues October 2013 Oregon's small manufacturers grow under the radar

Oregon's small manufacturers grow under the radar

| Print |  Email
Articles - October 2013
Monday, September 30, 2013
Article Index
Oregon's small manufacturers grow under the radar
Page 2
Page 3
Page 4
1013 Manufacturing 05
Above: Portland Bolt produces bolts ranging from 40 inches to 40 feet long.
Below: Applied Plastics Machining, a 12-person company, produces all things plastic — and from the scraps, makes the scuff boards that line the interiors of tractor trailers and railcars. This device is a vacuum hose for the recycling system.
// Photos by Adam Wickham 
1013 Manufacturing 06

At the local level, basic manufacturers face an entirely separate set of challenges. Portland Bolt was located in the gritty neighborhood now known as the Pearl District for decades before condos and loft apartments began to appear, and neighbors began complaining about the noise and the forklifts crossing the road. The manufacturer moved deep within the Northwest industrial district in 1992 but has started witnessing the creep again.

“There’s plenty of industry right here, but it’s also starting to turn,” Todd says. “There are a lot of tile companies, a lot of businesses bringing in retail aspects. You can almost fast-forward another 20 years and we might have to move out.”

Tom Leaptrott of Columbia Forge & Machine Works, which employs about 32 people in a riverside factory under the St. Johns Bridge, sees a constant battle between manufacturing and residential needs. “It’s getting to be more of a problem as more people move back into the St. Johns area and more residential housing goes up,” he says, indicating the apartments under construction across the street.

In addition to land-use conflicts, many small manufacturers say they don’t find Oregon a politically welcoming place to do business. “The tax rate and political structure in Oregon are brutal,” says Jeff Sherman, president of Ridgeline Pipe Manufacturing, a PVC pipe maker in Eugene, citing particularly high income taxes. “Our political environment discourages me greatly as a business guy.”

On a local level in Portland, too, many business owners say they feel the city looks to earn revenue off businesses, charging them exorbitant prices for utilities like water, for example, rather than supporting them.

“The city of Portland is a tough business climate: everything from permitting to regulation,” says Leaptrott of Columbia Forge. “I have a business in St. Helens too, and that city was much easier to work with as far as permitting and incentives.”



 

Comments   

 
Guest
+1 #1 VP of Marketing and Business DevelopmentGuest 2013-10-08 21:12:25
Thanks for the terrific article. As a manufacturer of trade show displays and retail environments (Classic Exhibits), I couldn't agree more with the folks interviewed. It's a tough market with lots of overseas competitors, but if you are nimble and creative and rely on a talented workforce, it's possible to thrive as a smaller manufacturer. There are no freebees.
Quote | Report to administrator
 

More Articles

Back to School

September 2014
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
BY LEE VAN DER VOO

By now we’ve all read the headlines: Starbucks is giving away free degrees. Except it isn’t.


Read more...

Private liberal arts education: superior outcomes, competitive price

Contributed Blogs
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
0826 thumb collegemoneyBY DEBRA RINGOLD | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

Why has six years become an acceptable investment in public undergraduate education that over-promises and underperforms?


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...

Fork & Bottle

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014

National media can’t get enough of Oregon’s pinot noir, artisan-food purveyors and lively, independent film scene.


Read more...

What I'm Reading

September 2014
Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Kim Ierian, President of Concorde Career Colleges, and Deborah Edward, Executive Director of Business for Culture & the Arts, share their recent reads.


Read more...

Downtime

September 2014
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY

How State Representative Julie Parrish (House District 37) balances life between work and play.


Read more...

The Alchemist

September 2014
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER

David Howitt explains why Portland consumer brands like Stumptown and Voodoo Doughnuts are taking the world by storm.


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