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|Articles - January 2014|
|Monday, December 09, 2013|
BY EMMA HALL
From Stumptown to silicon forest. DWFritz could be a poster child for Oregon’s industrial evolution. In 1973 Dennis W. Fritz started a one-man engineering consultancy in the West Hills of Portland focused on the booming lumber industry. By 1989 his company was doing precision automation work with Hewlett-Packard, pushing revenues in excess of $1 million for the first time. In 2010 the company now known as DWFritz Automation, Inc. shifted its entire focus to consumer electronics, landing a major contract with a large brand to provide assembly and inspection of precision automation systems. “With all the cell phone and tablet construction that’s happening in Asia, it’s important to automate these processes to eliminate labor,” says Jake VanderZanden, vice president of corporate development. “This demand for miniaturization, where human hands can’t do some of the operations has driven a demand for our services.”
The skills gap. DWFritz grew from 30 employees in 2010 to more than 100 employees today and is still hiring. Because DWFritz’s clients do a lot of Asian manufacturing, the company has a 30-person support staff dispersed in cities across Asia. But all of the basic design and principal manufacturing is done in Oregon to ensure high quality. “It’s an Oregon-founded company. Our roots are here, so we will always run our headquarters from here,” VanderZanden says. “And also, we’re just committed to jobs in Oregon, period.” Like other tech companies, however, DWFritz has struggled to find experienced software-engineering talent locally. “There tends to be a lot of talent in the Bay Area,” VanderZanden says. The company does plan to hire more junior engineers as it grows, and expects to have more luck filling that demand in Oregon. It sees promise in its partnership with the OSU robotics program, which has the third-largest robotics faculty in the nation.
Building green. Since 2010 DWFritz has quadrupled revenues. In order to accommodate such rapid growth, the company moved to a new Wilsonville headquarters featuring 20,000 square feet of office space and 50,000 square feet dedicated to manufacturing. Designed by Portland architecture firm Mackenzie to focus on sustainability and modern design, the building includes automated light switching and a kitchen with only reusable dishes. “The new headquarters is a part of attracting big-time talent, and sending a message to our clients that we’re really serious and have much more capacity now, from both a manufacturing and engineering point of view,” VanderZanden says.
Template for success. Driven by backlog from new clients, DWFritz’s growth rate is expected to continue. “We have good things to come and more people to hire,” VanderZanden says. His optimism is grounded in reality. Launched 40 years ago to accommodate the state’s homegrown timber industry, DWFritz has since evolved to meet the needs of a global, tech-based, sustainable economy. If that trajectory sounds familiar, it should. As goes DWFritz, so goes Oregon.
Monday, September 28, 2015
BY DAN COOK
Eastern Oregon marketers refocus rural assets through an urban lens.
Monday, October 05, 2015
VIDEO BY JESSE LARSON
Profiling some of the organizations featured in the 2015 list.
Monday, September 28, 2015
BY AMY MILSHTEIN
To attract technology companies, the U.S. Bancorp Tower repositions itself as open, light and playful.
Wednesday, September 30, 2015
Oregon Business magazine has named the seventh annual 100 Best Nonprofits to Work for in Oregon. The rankings were revealed Wednesday night during an awards dinner at the Sentinel Hotel in Portland.
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.”
Wednesday, October 28, 2015
BY CHRIS NOBLE
’Tis the season of giving — and that goes far beyond trees drowning in Lego sets and ironic knitwear. Santa Claus knows corporations are people too, in need of gifts to warm the hearts (and stomachs) of even the most Grinch-like CFOs.
Monday, September 28, 2015
BY BEN WATERHOUSE
How Portland's Garden Bar plans to become the Starbucks of salad.
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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.
Farmland LP grows its vision for organic farming in Oregon.
The Salem Convention Center has capped its tenth anniversary year by earning the prestigious “Best of the Best 2015” award from NW Meetings & Events magazine. Selected as the Best Convention/Conference Venue in Oregon by meeting and event planners from Alaska, British Columbia, Idaho, Oregon and Washington, the Salem Convention Center ranked above the Oregon Convention Center and the Portland Art Museum.
The Oregon Cooperative Hall of Fame honors individuals for their outstanding contributions to the successful building and operation of Oregon agricultural cooperatives.
Health insurer reports $10.2 million in net income after taxes through the first nine months of 2015.