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|Archives - December 2009|
|Saturday, November 21, 2009|
BY BEN JACKLET
They’re into strong markets and they know exactly what they’re doing. They’re smart, they’re hiring and they’re poised to grow in the new year.
In an ideal economy, the majority of Oregon’s businesses would fit such a description. Not today. The Great Recession has upended the strong as well as the weak, forcing some of the state’s top performers to resort to cutbacks, mass layoffs and even bankruptcy.
But not every business has narrowed its focus to simply cutting costs in order to survive. Some savvy companies are embracing the impending arrival of 2010 with powerful optimism. In the free verse of Ziba Design president Sohrab Vossoughi, it’s a matter of planets lining up. In the technical jargon of TriQuint CEO Ralph Quinsey, it comes down to the inevitable progression from 3G to 4G to 5G and beyond.
Ziba DesignNiche: multiplatform creative design
Oregon employees: 100
"Being in the business of innovation is very good these days, and it's going to get better," says Sohrab Vossoughi, the loquacious founder and president of Ziba Design. "Companies may be able to buy their way to greatness for a while, but eventually they will need to deliver something unique to the DNA of the company and meaningful to the target customer."
Niche: email archives and encryption
Marsh formed the company in response to new laws from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission regarding the e-mail archives of financial services companies. He developed a system for securely storing and managing vast volumes of emails, and demand for that service has flourished as emails have proliferated. Newer modes of business communication such as social media and instant messaging also mean new opportunities for Smarsh, as does the market for email encryption, which Smarsh entered in the spring of 2009. As the varieties and volume of electronic messages that can potentially be subpoenaed by law firms, requested by auditors or demanded by regulators grows, so grows the market for Smarsh’s services.
Marsh says he expects organic growth to land somewhere between 50% and 75% for 2009 and to continue at a similar rate through 2010. “The market for email archiving is going to explode over the next two or three years,” says Marsh. “When we started out our clients were all financial firms. Now our new sales are largely outside of the financial sector, as companies look to cut IT costs and mitigate e-discovery costs associated with litigation. We’re just starting to see the full market for our services.”
Smarsh is representative of a growing number of small, focused Portland metro tech companies that are lucratively exploiting new niches that they identified early and moved quickly to fill. Also fitting that category are Jive Software, which sells social networking software to businesses; Ensequence, which makes television interactive; eROI, which provides email marketing tools; and Monsoon, which designs software for online retailers.
Targeted tech expertise is growing in value in synch with the irreversible shift toward a faster, more complex and more interactive electronic world. And while email archiving may not seem like the sexiest of tech niches when compared to interactive TV or iPhone apps, securely storing and organizing the mountains of electronic information being generated at warp speed will become increasingly important. Smarsh senior communications director Ken Anderson points to a recent murder trial in Indiana where a MySpace page was ruled admissible evidence as a tip-of-the-iceberg example of a huge cultural shift with broad legal and business implications.
Given Smarsh’s outrageous rate of growth, it would seem a strong candidate to break Oregon’s IPO drought. Marsh says while he would not be against going public eventually, it is not in the short-term plan.
As for the long-term plan, Marsh says he intends to keep the business in Portland, where Smarsh has data centers, software support and a large pool of talented job applicants from which to choose.
New Seasons Market
Niche: locally grown specialty foods
When the darkest days of the recession hit Oregon a year ago, many people assumed that specialty foods and beverages were in trouble.
Niche: radio frequency technology
It would be difficult to find two Oregon executives more dissimilar in demeanor than Ziba's Sohrab Vossoughi and Ralph Quinsey, the soft-spoken CEO of TriQuint Semiconductor. While Vosoughi clearly delights in following his muse wherever it may lead him, Quinsey is as disciplined and technical in his approach to being interviewed as he is in running a growing technology company.
Niche: advanced wound care
Few will deny the value of a technology that saves the lives of severely wounded American soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq. But while HemCon began as a collaboration with the U.S. military in 2001, CEO John Morgan expects to earn more through commercial markets than defense contracts for the first time in 2010.
Niche: solar panels
Germany's fastest-growing public company is quickly becoming a major employer in Hillsboro. In October 2008, SolarWorld had 360 Oregon jobs. By October 2009 that number had grown to 550. Head count is expected to double again within a few years.
These nine powerhouses are good bets to add rather than subtract jobs in the year ahead.
JIVE SOFTWARE had a huge October, raising $12 million from Sequoia Capital and releasing Jive Social Business Software 4.0. Few doubt the company’s potential with the social media explosion; whether it will remain in Portland or shift to the Silicon Valley remains to be seen.
OREGON IRON WORKS is leading the shift from blue-collar jobs to green-collar jobs with its timely United Streetcar spin-off.
SLAYDEN CONSTRUCTION in Stayton keeps winning public works contracts, and the outlook is bright in that sector as stimulus dollars work their way through the system.
SCHNITZER STEEL is back in the black after a tumultuous year in steel and scrap. Its cash position is strong and the outlook for its business of exporting scrap metal to Asia is solid as China leads the way to recovery.
STANCORP resisted the temptation to experiment with risky financial and insurance products, and as a result downtown Portland’s largest employer has held steady during the worst of the recession. The firm employs 2,500 in Portland and is always looking for top-notch actuaries.
TRIPWIRE continues to assert itself as an IT leader with enormous growth potential, hiring engineers in Portland while gearing up for an IPO.
US BANK passed the stress tests without a hitch and is hunting down strategic acquisitions in a weakened sector. No longer headquartered in Oregon, it remains a crucial regional employer and lender, with more than 100 open positions statewide.
WIEDEN+KENNEDY’S Levi’s campaign generated even more buzz than usual, starring Walt Whitman singing the praises of denim. Portland’s top ad agency has been outsmarting Madison Avenue for decades, and there’s no reason to believe it will stop now.
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
BY CHRIS NOBLE
Oregon is home to an abundance of gritty warehouses reborn as trendy office spaces, as well as crafty hipsters turned entrepreneurs. Does the combination yield an equally bounteous office products sector? Not so much. Occupying the limited desk jockey space are Field Notes, a spinoff of Portland’s Draplin Design Company, and Schuttenworks, known for whittling Apple device stands. For a full complement of keyboard trays, docking stations and mouse pads, check out the GroveMade line, guaranteed to boost the cachet of even the lowliest cubicle drone.
Wednesday, September 30, 2015
BY KIM MOORE
Striving for social equity is the mission of many nonprofits, and this year’s 100 Best Nonprofits to Work For in Oregon survey shows employees are most satisfied with their organizations’ fair treatment of differing racial, gender, disability, age and economic groups. But as a national discourse about racial discrimination and equity for low-income groups takes center stage, data show Oregon’s 100 Best Nonprofits to Work For still need to make progress on addressing these issues within their own organizations.
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.
Monday, September 28, 2015
BY AMY MILSHTEIN
To attract technology companies, the U.S. Bancorp Tower repositions itself as open, light and playful.
Monday, September 28, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER
Bill Levy of Pacific Ag talked to Oregon Business about new residue markets, the company’s growth strategy and why a biofuel plant is like a large cow.
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER
In 2010 Vanessa Keitges and several investors purchased Portland-based Columbia Green Technologies, a green-roof company. The 13-person firm has a 200% annual growth rate, exports 30% of its product to Canada and received its first infusion of venture capital in 2014 from Yaletown Venture Partners. CEO Keitges, 40, a Southern Oregon native who serves on President Obama’s Export Council, talks about market innovation, scaling small business and why Oregon is falling behind in green-roof construction.
Thursday, October 01, 2015
PHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN
Images from the big 2015 celebration of worker-friendly organizations that make a difference.
|The List: 100 Best Nonprofits to Work For in Oregon|
|Run, Nick, Run|
|100 Best Nonprofits: Working for equality inside and out|
|Keep Pendleton Weird|
|One Tough Mayor|
|Portland-raised NFL star to launch Nike store at alma mater|
|SABMiller agrees to merge with Budweiser|
|LeBron signs with 'the Chipotle of pizza'|
|Comcast to speed up Internet for many Oregon users|
|Liza Minnelli takes 200 mile Uber ride|
|Should gun owners carry insurance?|
|VW admits system was intentionally placed to cheat|
Almost all of us can agree with this statement: America has too much gun violence in the workplace. From there, though, things get murky.
Wage gaps and workforce shortages are threatening the quality of care and supports to Oregonians with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Who’s caring for those who care for our most vulnerable residents?
Engaging employees and customers along the way.
The registration fee is $30 prepay online or $35 at the door. Online registration is available at www.lanepowell.com.
Former Chief Medical Officer for Saint Alphonsus Health Alliance brings 30 years of healthcare industry expertise and innovation.
Have you reviewed and revised your vacation, sick leave and PTO polices? Determined how to best comply with Oregon's Sick Leave law? Let us help.