Deal Watch: Two water contracts keep Northwest Pipe on course

| Print |  Email
Archives - April 2009
Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Northwest Pipe Company president Brian Dunham says that during past recessions, the firm’s chairman has joked that they should have bought a company plane — if only so they could sell it and cut costs when times were tough.

“But we never bought the damn plane,” says Dunham, who’s been with the Vancouver company since 1990.

Still, Northwest Pipe, which manufactures steel pipe for use in industries like agriculture, energy, construction and municipal water transmission, has girded itself during this current economic crunch by trimming its discretionary costs. It’s also shuttered a plant in Utah and delayed bringing another facility in Louisiana fully online until the market rebounds.

Those steps in part helped Northwest Pipe end 2008 with record revenue and income of $439.7 million and $32.3 million, respectively. And the company is off to a solid start in 2009, with two water transmission contracts in February worth at least $9 million each.

The same month, Northwest Pipe’s majority-owned subsidiary in Singapore, Northwest Pipe Asia, acquired the Scottish company Byard Ltd, which makes spiral pipe mills. Dunham says the acquisition will be helpful in upgrading Northwest’s manufacturing equipment and, thanks to Byard’s “full Rolodex,” drumming up some new international business.

While Dunham says the water transmission side of Northwest Pipe’s business, which is driven by long-term city water projects and population demographics, is looking strong, its tubular business will likely lag in the coming year. That’s because those products — piping for fire sprinklers, irrigation, gas collection and highway signage — are tied much more closely to the immediate economic cycle. President Obama’s stimulus package may help a bit, but it’s still too soon to tell.

As a result, Dunham says Northwest will be playing a little offense in 2009 and a little defense.

“It’s just hard to be too optimistic right now,” he says.


ND Q1 AgSource Cooperative Services (WI) Agri-Check (Umatilla) 2/11
ND Q1 Columbia Machine (Vancouver) Foster Equipment (CA) 2/25
ND Q1 Community Health Systems (TN) McKenzie-Willamette Med. Center/Cascade Health Solutions (Eugene) 2/18
ND Q1 Doug Morland (CO) Three dealerships of Lithia Motors (Medford) 2/18
ND Q1 Groove 11 (CA) Asterix Group (Portland) 2/2
ND Q1 Handmark (KN) FreeRange Communications (Portland) 2/5
ND Q1 HighJump Software (MN) Insight Distribution Software/Coaxis (Portland) 2/4
ND Q1 Imagine Graphics (Eugene) Phot-Oregon (Eugene) 2/16
ND Q1 M&K Acquisitions (Clackamas) Gleukos (Portland) 2/5
ND Q1 NW Pipe Asia Pte./NW Pipe (Vancouver) Byard(Scotland) 2/5
ND Q1 PACE Engineers (Oregon City) Peterson Consulting Engineers (WA) 2/24
ND Q1 Schnitzer Steel (Portland) Ponce Resources (Puerto Rico) 2/4
ND Q2 Visualant (WA) TransTech Systems (Wilsonville) 2/16
ND Q1 Washington Trust Bank (WA) Pinnacle Bank (Beaverton) 2/13

$24.5M Port of Vancouver (WA) 110 acres industrial (Vancouver)/Evergreen Aluminum (Vancouver) 2/10
$5.2M Woodburn Partners (Tigard) 128,600 sq ft industrial (Woodburn)/Universal Forest Products Western Division (MI) 2/11
$4.8M Greg and Dan Piantanida (WA) 48-unit apartment complex (Portland)/Hazelton Las Brisas (CA) 2/23
$3.85M Cooper’s Chase (Beaverton) Bristol Court Apartments (Milwaukie)/Harmony Court II (Portland) 2/16
$3.6M Eric Kasch (Vancouver) King’s Landing Apartments (Corvallis)/Charles Stevens (CA) 2/9
$1M Lair Hill Associates (Portland) Lair Hill Office Building (Portland)/Stan Crawford 2/2
$645,000 St. Vincent de Paul (Eugene) Seven lots (Veneta)/The Guilford Family 2/5
ND Dulcich Realty (Clackamas) 4.5 acres industrial (Clackamas)/Komfort Corp (Clackamas) 2/5
ND Fire Station No. 7 (Portland) 15,400 sq ft office (Portland)/ND 2/26
ND PremierWest Bank/PremierWest Bancorp (Medford) Two bank branches (CA)/Wells Fargo Bank (CA) 2/19

$82.6M (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds) State of Oregon U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development 2/25
$41.4M (stock sale via TARP) Premier West Bancorp (Medford)/Jim Ford U.S. Treasury 2/18
$12.6M (loans) Oregon International Port of Coos Bay/Jeffrey Bishop Oregon Economic and Community Development Department 2/3
$9.5M (pipe order) Northwest Pipe (Vancouver)/Brian Dunham Antelope Valley-East Kern Water Agency (TX) 2/3
$9M (pipe order) Northwest Pipe (Vancouver)/Brian Dunham Los Angeles Dept. of Water & Power (CA) 2/5
$7M (venture investment) RNA Networks (Portland)/Clive Cook Menlo Ventures (CA), et al. 2/3
$6.7M (combat boot order) LaCrosse Footwear (Portland)/Joseph Schneider U.S. Army 2/26
$1M (gift) Willamette University/M. Lee Pelton Peter and Bonnie Kremer 2/25
$594,000 (refugee care funds) Medical Teams International (Tigard)/Bas Vanderzalm U.S. State Dept. Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration 2/12
$100,000 (lottery loan) Port of Astoria/Jack Crider Clatsop County Commission (Astoria) 2/13
$40,000 (biodiesel testing contract) Gorge Analytical (Hood River)/Jeff Fetkenhour City of Portland Bureau of Development Services 2/23
ND (contract for seven helicopters) Carson Helicopters (Grants Pass)/Frank Carson Presidential Airways (NC) 2/19
ND (wind energy contract) Iberdrola Renewables (Portland)/Ralph Currey Snohomish County PUD (WA) 2/4
ND (cargo contracts) Port of Vancouver/Larry Paulson Vestas (Portland) and Siemens Energy (GA) 2/5
ND (waste hauling contract) Walsh Trucking (Troutdale)/William Walsh Metro 2/16

List researched by Jon Bell

Have an opinion? E-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

More Articles

Corner Office: Sheree Arntson

January-Powerbook 2015
Saturday, December 13, 2014

Checking in with the managing director of Arnerich Massena.


Crowdfunding 2.0

Tuesday, December 02, 2014
120214-crowdfund-thumbBY LINDA BAKER

A conversation with attorney Erich Merrill about the latest way to raise money from large groups of people.


Legislative Preview: A Shifting Balance

January-Powerbook 2015
Thursday, December 11, 2014

Democratic gains pave the way for a revival of environment and labor bills as revenue reform languishes.


The short list: 4 companies engaged in a battle of the paddles

The Latest
Thursday, December 04, 2014

Nothing says startup culture like a ping pong table in the office, lounge or lobby.


The 100 Best Companies survey is open

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!


Justice for All

January-Powerbook 2015
Thursday, December 11, 2014

Lawger upends the typical hourly based fee model by letting clients determine the cost.


Editor's Letter: Power Play

January-Powerbook 2015
Thursday, December 11, 2014

There’s a fascinating article in the December issue of the Harvard Business Review about a profound power shift taking place in business and society. It’s a long read, but the gist revolves around the tension between “old power” and “new power” as a driver of transformation. Here’s an excerpt:

Old power works like a currency. It is held by few. Once gained, it is jealously guarded, and the powerful have a substantial store of it to spend. It is closed, inaccessible, and leader-driven. It downloads, and it captures.

New power operates differently, like a current. It is made by many. It is open, participatory, and peer-driven. It uploads, and it distributes. Like water or electricity, it’s most forceful when it surges. The goal with new power is not to hoard it but to channel it.

The authors, Henry Timms and Jeremy Heimans, don’t necessarily favor one form of power over another but merely outline how power is transitioning, and how companies can take advantage of these changes to strengthen their positions in the marketplace. 

Our Powerbook issue might be viewed as a case study in the new-power transition. This annual book of lists provides information on leading businesses, nonprofits and universities in the state. Most of the featured companies are entrenched power players now pursuing more flexible and less hierarchical approaches to doing business. Law firms, for example, are adopting new technologies and fee structures to make legal services more accessible and affordable.

This month we also take a look at a controversial new U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission rule requiring public companies to disclose the median pay of workers, as well as the ratio between CEO and median-worker pay. 

Part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law, the rule will compel public companies to be more open about employee compensation, with the assumption that greater transparency will improve corporate performance and, perhaps, help address one of the major challenges of our time: income inequality.

New power is not only about strategy and tactics, the Harvard Business Review authors say. “The ultimate questions are ethical. The big question is whether new power can genuinely serve the common good and confront society’s most intractable problems.”

That sounds like a call to arms. Or a New Year’s resolution. Old power or new, the goals are the same: to be a force for positive change in the world. Happy 2015!

— Linda

Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02