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Story by Ben Jacklet
A lot has changed in Oregon business over the past 30 years. And it isn’t just the bushy moustaches, the plaid slacks or the ads for new-fangled gizmos like the $13,385 Durango F-85 desktop computer, a futuristic machine able to “do all your accounting, maintain inventory control, perform job costing, sales analysis and much more!”
In 1981, Oregon had eight publicly traded wood products companies: Georgia Pacific, Louisiana Pacific, Willamette Industries, Pope & Talbot, Alpine, Bohemia, Dant & Russell and Medford Corp. It was a formidable group led by Georgia Pacific, a $5.4 billion business and the largest timber company in the world. Willamette and L-P also topped a billion dollars in annual sales. The state hummed with mills.
Georgia Pacific was the first to leave, departing for Atlanta in 1982. Then Alpine and Dant & Russell folded. Next, Texas millionaire Harold Simmons bought Medford Corp. in a hostile takeover. Willamette bought Bohemia in 1991, only to be bought in a hostile takeover by Weyerhaeuser, based in Washington, in 2002. Louisiana Pacific left Portland for Nashville in 2004. That left Pope & Talbot, which declared bankruptcy in 2008.
It isn’t just the timber industry that has seen seismic shifts. After Georgia Pacific left, the top six Oregon-based public companies were the utility PacifiCorp, the retailer Fred Meyer, the tech giant Tektronix, U.S. Bancorp, and L-P and Willamette. These companies employed a combined 85,000 people in 1986. Not one survives as an Oregon-based business today.
In 1982, FLIR Systems was a struggling startup looking for investors. Wieden+Kennedy was an untested ad shop with one client. Leatherman Tool Group was an idea in the making. Tripwire, Ziba Design, New Seasons Market, Laika, HemCon, Gerding Edlen, WellPartner, Jive Software and Puppet Labs did not exist. Intel was a fairly minor employer in Oregon.
Not all of the changes have been dramatic. It is a little disconcerting to be reminded how many of Oregon’s “next big things” have been next big things for 30 years and counting, including wood pellet stoves, biomass energy and solar power. Thirty-year-old headlines like “Timber companies await recovery,” “Hope springs eternal in real estate market,” “Turning downtowns around” and “Bringing Oregon into the big leagues,” could just as well have been written last week. Chances are they will still apply 30 years from now. But history reminds us that you never know what will happen.
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A new report highlights how Oregon bankers are giving back to their communities.
Since 1932 Tidewater Transportation & Terminals (operating as Tidewater Barge Lines and Tidewater Terminal Company) has operated a multicommodity transportation and terminal company based in Vancouver, Washington. The friendly expression on the company’s shipping containers reflects the attitude of about 330 safety and community-conscious employees but belies how complicated the barge business really is.
The Port of The Dalles has run marine facilities since the 1930s, but they are part of a larger mission to strengthen the local economy. They focus on regional economic development with a strong bent toward adding good-paying jobs in high tech, manufacturing and other industries.
Providing attendees with unique taste of the Northwest Reception.
CFM Strategic Communications turns 25 this year and is celebrating with a revamped website, special events for firm alumni and clients, a special-label wine and a list of 25 stories about its client work over the past quarter century.
The Atkinson Graduate School of Management at Willamette University has maintained its business accreditation by AACSB International—The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.