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Deal Watch: Two water contracts keep Northwest Pipe on course

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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

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