Economic Development in Oregon’s Mid-Willamette Valley
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8 Meet the Wizards of Local Manufacturing
In this Issue 2
SEDCOR Board and Staff
Local Manufacturers Are Quietly Building The Future President’s Message by Erik Andersson
Quick Hits Seven Saalfeld Griggs PC • Santiam Rebuild Coalition Event Sodbusters Hop Farms
New Members/Member Spotlight LS Networks • Motion & Flow Control Products, Inc. Mid-Valley Literacy Center
12 Insights from OMEP Advanced Manufacturing Tech Key to Solving Workforce Challenges by Kleve Kee
13 Insights from Chemeketa Community College Machining in the Willamette Valley. . . solutions on the horizon by Sheldon Schnider
14 Insights from BBSI Safety as Value by Eric Nelson
16 Interview Collin Gyenes, Techtonics Tuning
20 County News POLK - Commissioner Jeremy Gordan YAMHILL - Commissioner Mary Starrett MARION - Comissioner Colm Willis
26 Region of Innovators
Western Interlock • NW Alpine
Front cover taken during a recent tour of Wizard Manufacturing. Photo by Kristi Reed.
SEDCOR Enterprise Means More Business Ad info: 541-944-2820 email@example.com www.sedcor.com
Bank of the Pacific............................................................21 Cascade Collections.........................................................23 Chemeketa College..........................................Back Cover Chemeketa Truck Driving...............................................22 Cherriots.............................................................................25 Citizens Bank ��������������������������������������������������������������������24 City of Salem ���������������������������������������������������������������������23 Coldwell Banker Commercial.........................................19 Covanta Marion................................................................21 Datavision...........................................................................27 Dalke Construction Co. ��������������������������������������������������25 EnergyTrust of Oregon ���������������������������������������������������17 Freres Lumber....................................................................11 Grand Hotel of Salem......................................................17 Green Acres Landscape ��������������������������������������������������20 Huggins Insurance.............................................................. 3 LS Networks.......................................................................19 MAPS Credit Union..........................................................13 Multi/Tech Engineering Services..................................28 Oregon Cascade Plumbing & Heating.........................21 Oregon Community Foundation..................................... 7 Pfeifer Roofing.................................................................... 5 PNM Construction...........................................................23 Powell Banz Valuation.....................................................18 Power Fleet Commercial Sales........................................ 5 Rich Duncan Construction ��������������������������������������������12 Salem Contractors Exchange.........................................25 Salem Convention Center..................Inside Front Cover Santiam Hospital.................................. Inisde Back Cover Select Impressions �����������������������������������������������������������27 Sherman Sherman Johnnie & Hoyt, LLP ��������������������15 SVN Commercial Advisors................................................ 6 SwiftCare Medical Clinic.................................................27 Thomas Kay Flooring & Interiors..................................26 White Oak Construction ������������������������������������������������19 Willamette Community Bank........................................15
Mt. Angel Publishing, Inc.
Mt. Angel Publishing is proud to work with SEDCOR to produce Enterprise. To advertise in the next issue, contact Jerry Stevens: 541-944-2820 SEDCOR@mtangelpub.com Enterprise Fall 2021 1
SEDCOR Staff Erik Andersson
Executive Council Chair Michael Fowler CEO, CabDoor
Vice-Chair Mike Keane
Shareholder and Managing Officer, Garrett Hemann Robertson
Treasurer Ryan Allbritton
SVP, Chief Banking Officer, Willamette Valley Bank
Past Chair Daryl Knox
Rich Duncan President, Rich Duncan Construction, Inc.
Mark Hoyt Steve Powers Kate Schwarzler
Owner, Indy Commons
County Commissioner, Marion County Board of Commissioners
Jennifer Larsen Morrow
City Councilor, City of Monmouth
Mayor, City of Salem
Owner and CEO, Berger International
County Commissioner, Yamhill County
General Manager, Garmin AT, Inc.
Trial Lawyer, Partner, Saalfeld Griggs PC
Patricia Callihan Bowman
Owner/Career Coach, Express Employment Professionals
Mayor, City of Keizer
President, AC + Co Architecture | Community
Owner/Manager, Advantage holdings llc
President, Salem Aviation
Secretary/Treasurer, Doerfler Farms, Inc.
Senior Business Development Manager, Portland General Electric
President/CEO, Chemeketa Community College
Counsel to the President, Mountain West Investment Corporation
Director of Operations firstname.lastname@example.org
President, Don Pancho Authentic Mexican Foods, Inc.
Jenni Kistler 503-588-6225
City Manager, City of Salem
Board of Directors
Regional President, Legacy Silverton Medical Center
Partner, Sherman Sherman Johnnie & Hoyt, LLP
CPA, Partner, Aldrich Group
Managing Director, SVN Commercial Advisors
Regional Business Manager, Pacific Power President, Creative Company, Inc.
Owner, Turner Lumber, Inc.
Store Manager, Umpqua Bank
VP of Operations, DCI
Nick Harville Marion County Business Retention & Expansion Manager 503-837-1804 email@example.com
Area Manager - Willamette Valley, BBSI
Executive Director, Willamette Workforce Partnership
Rural Innovation Catalyst
Chief Financial Officer, Salem Health
Polk County Business Retention & Expansion Manager
President/CEO, Modern Building Systems
County Commissioner, Polk County
VP, Commercial Banking Officer, Columbia Bank
Government Affairs, NW Natural
Mayor, City of Newberg
General Manager, Salem Electric
Abisha Stone Yamhill County Business Retention and Expansion Manager
General Manager, The Grand Hotel in Salem
Brand Experience Specialist, Crosby Hops
SVP, Commercial Team Lead, Willamette Community Bank
CEO, Online NW
President, The Ulven Companies
Economic Development Director, City of Woodburn
Michael Miller Marketing and Communications Coordinator 503-588-6225 firstname.lastname@example.org
626 High Street NE, Suite 200 • Salem, OR 97301 503-588-6225 • email@example.com • www.sedcor.com
2 Enterprise Fall 2021
Be Amazed by Manufacturing
Local Manufacturers Are Quietly Building The Future Many of us grew up watching “Cheers” and are familiar with the character of US Postal Carrier Cliff Clavin. He was a bit of a know-it-all, and always seemed eager to educate his fellow patrons on any topic that came up in conversation. In economic development, we have the good fortune to learn about all sorts of businesses and industries. The more businesses we meet, the more we learn. And we get excited about what we learn, so we tend to want to share it; we become our own version of Cliff Clavin. I recall being at a Utility Economic Development Association dinner in Charleston, South Carolina, and seeing the restaurant featured Painted Hills Natural Beef from Fossil, Oregon. I went all Cliff Clavin on my colleagues, sharing what I knew about the company, which was one of my first projects when I first came to Oregon in 2000. We spend a lot of time and energy at SEDCOR building and maintaining relationships. We show up and we listen. And when we show up, we often get invited to see their operations up close. For this issue, we are going to try and give you the same privilege and take you a few steps closer into the world of manufacturing in the Willamette Valley. Erik Andersson In our feature story, you will be taken on a tour of Wizard Manufacturing. Undoubtably, many of you SEDCOR President have seen the quite-bright blue building on Highway 22 in Polk County and, like me, said to yourself, “I wonder what they make there?” My initial visit there was a series of surprises as I learned the variety of industries this company touched. Later I found myself telling someone that if they ever bought fresh peanut butter in a grocery store in Romania, it was made by equipment build by Wizard Manufacturing. Pure Cliff Clavin. In the following pages, Michael Miller, our Marketing & Communications Coordinator, provides you with a tour of Wizard Manufacturing with beautiful images provided by Kristi Reed of the Grand Hotel, a dear friend of SEDCOR. By reading this story, we hope to give you a glance at one of our site visits, something our Business and Retention Managers do dozens of times a month. We come knocking with nothing to sell, but only with a curious mind and an eagerness to help when we can. Every issue of Enterprise would be their own Encyclopedia Britannica if we could feature every business in our region doing something awesome. I wish we could tell every story we share amongst our team during our weekly meetings. So, since we can’t give you every story, I would encourage you to find them for yourselves. As you drive past the big buildings (strikingly blue or not), take a second to ask yourself, “I wonder what they make there.” Once you learn, I can almost guarantee you’ll be so impressed that you’ll find yourself sharing with colleagues, friends and family. You’ll become Cliff Clavin too. Cheers!
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Enterprise Fall 2021 3
Seven Saalfeld Griggs PC lawyers named to 2022 Best Lawyers® list Saalfeld Griggs Business Lawyers is pleased to announce that seven of its lawyers have been recognized in the 2022 Edition of The Best Lawyers in America. Recognition by Best Lawyers is based entirely on peer review using methodology designed to capture, as accurately as possible, the consensus opinion of leading lawyers about the professional abilities of their colleagues within the same geographical area and legal practice area. Since it was first published in 1983, Best Lawyers has become universally regarded as the definitive guide to legal excellence. Inclusion in the publication requires nomination, peer review voting, analysis and verification of the feedback received, and verification of eligibility with the Oregon State Bar. Best Lawyers has published its directory for over three decades, earning the respect of the profession, the media, and the public as the most reliable, unbiased source of legal referrals. Its first international list was published in 2006 and since then has grown
to provide lists in over 75 countries. Saalfeld Griggs PC would like to congratulate the following lawyers named to 2022 The Best Lawyers in America list: Douglas C. Alexander - Corporate Law Randall W. Cook - Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law Hunter B. Emerick - Litigation – Bankruptcy, Litigation Construction, Litigation - Trusts and Estates Shannon R. Martinez - Litigation - Bankruptcy Jeffrey G. Moore - Trusts and Estates Erich M. Paetsch - Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights / Insolvency and Reorganization Law, Commercial Transactions / UCC Law, Litigation - Bankruptcy Randall P. Sutton - Employment Law - Management
Generous Contractors Celebrated at Santiam Rebuild Coalition Event By Mary Louise VanNatta, VanNatta Public Relations In mid-August, Green Acres Landscape invited contractors, who donated time and materials to construct a community building for Detroit, to an outdoor social at their nursery. Contributors had a chance to socialize and celebrate the completed work to date. Coalition founder, Nick Harville said that “98% of the project work to date has been constructed with donated materials and labor.” Bonique Hollinrake, project manager at Green Acres said her company was pleased to host this event. “Our Oregon contractors are some of the most generous folks we know. We are going to help rebuild Detroit!” The company donated a large number of trees to help replant the Canyon as well as providing the new landscape at the building. It will be designed with fire-resistant plants recommended by the Forestry Service In an August update, the following activities are happening: • Continued electrical rough-in. • Poured concrete slab. • Saw cut control joints • Core drilled holes for electrical. • Repair gym underlayment. • Continue wood framing. • Install ridge beams. Donations for the project are accepted at www. DetroitLakeFoundation.org. Licensed contractors or others willing to donate to the process should visit www. SantiamBuildCoalition.org. About the Santiam Rebuild Coalition: Nick Harville, Business Retention & Expansion Manager for SEDCOR/Marion County, and Rich Duncan, owner of Duncan Construction, formed the Santiam Rebuild Coalition in October 2020. It was developed for multiple purposes. One is to provide Canyon residents a group of trustworthy, local construction trades. Also, to improve logistics as reconstruction begins. In addition, the Coalition brings together construction industry members who will volunteer their time
4 Enterprise Fall 2021
to fast-track the construction of a new community building in Detroit—doing more together towards this goal than they could individually. They view Detroit as a significant economic driver for surrounding cities. At an organization meeting 90 contractors pledged to provide labor and materials. In late January, the coalition secured a piece of virtually untouched land to build the community building.
Be Amazed by Manufacturing
Sodbusters Hop Farms Revs Up New Equipment If you have spent any considerable amount of time in Oregon, you can identify the start of hop season by the sweet smell that settles over most of the Willamette Valley. For hop growers like Sodbusters, hop season is a mad, month-long dash to harvest, process, dry, package, and ship the final product called cones to beer producers all over the world. This year, Sodbuster will fire up a new tool to make their harvest season faster, safer, and more productive. Last October, Sodbusters committed to invest close to $8 million to install brand new machinery inside a new 18,000 square-foot facility on their Brooks farm. Owner Doug Weathers says the new equipment will dramatically increase their farm’s yearly productivity. “We’re able to harvest in a much safer way that is less physically taxing on our staff. Plus, with the increase productivity, we are able to pay them more.” Weathers says the new equipment will also increase the
Sodbusters will press "Go" on their brand-new processing equipment this season.
overall quality of the final product. “With this, we can cleanly and completely strip away everything that is not the cone. Plus,” he says smiling, “I can watch the whole operation from a screen in my office!” SEDCOR’s Nick Harville worked closely with Sodbusters to secure Marion County’s first Rural Enterprise Zone tax exemption, helping those in our region’s Ag Supply Chain make big investments, create better agricultural products, and produce more well-paying jobs.
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Brian Heinrich Delana Johnson 503-504-3629 503-769-7100
Ryan Church 503-877-7102
Enterprise Fall 2021 5
NEW MEMBERS Founded in Oregon, LS Networks serves businesses, government entities, healthcare organizations, education institutions, and other enterprises with reliable, high-speed fiber connectivity.
Motion & Flow Control Products, Inc. (MFCP, or Motion and Flow, as some customers refer to us) has been building its reputation as service-focused industrial fluid power, motion, and process control products distributor since 1960.
They have provided fiber to the Pacific Northwest for over 15 years – and they continue to grow and evolve, giving our customers affordable, ultra-fast network connectivity no matter how the business landscape changes.
Today, our customers also come to us for hydraulic system engineering, design, and manufacturing; hydraulic component repairs; hydraulic system service and troubleshooting; hydraulic and industrial filtration solutions; remote system condition monitoring and implementation, and more.
SEDCOR Member Spotlight
Mid-Valley Literacy Center Helps Businesses Retain and Recruit Employees The MVLC Workplace Literacy Program teaches English to employees on their work site in order to increase their language proficiency on the job. As a result, employees are more engaged with you as the employer and become more stable in the workplace. According to Cliff Stites from CabDoor,“Every problem has a solution. The Mid-Valley Literacy Center has become a strategic piece to the puzzle in helping CabDoor improve employee literacy, and the resulting improvement in employee engagement. The small cost versus the huge gains in your business culture could become a staggering return on your investment.” Using your company’s vocabulary, MVLC creates a curriculum
specific to the job to increase employee retention, productivity, open opportunities for advancement, and decrease product loss and safety risks. If you want to improve communications skills on the job, support employee engagement, and demonstrate value for each employee, the MVLC Workplace Literacy Program is the solution. Do you want to recruit and retain employees? They first need to know that they are valued. Even if you can’t offer them higher wages, offering language training on the job site communicates that they are an important priority to you and your company. MVLC also provides Spanish classes for your staff in order to better communicate with Spanish-speaking employees. Call for more information at 503-463-1488 or email at email@example.com
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6 Enterprise Fall 2021
Be Amazed by Manufacturing
TRACKING OREGON’S PROGRESS
[ ECONOMIC MOBILIT Y and BELONGING IN OREGON ] For the first time in U.S. history, young adults are less likely to earn more than their parents, shattering the timehonored belief that if you work hard, you’ll prosper. Family circumstances, educational experiences, race and ethnicity and a ZIP code all play a significant role on a child’s ability to get ahead — determining the rest of their life. To find out how a ZIP code impacts opportunity, download OCF’s newly-released report, “Cornerstones: Economic Mobility and Belonging in Oregon,” and learn about ways to advance economic mobility for future generations of Oregonians.
V I S I T O R E G O N C F.O R G / T O P 2 02 0 T O D I S C O V E R K E Y A R E A S O F INVESTMENT AND POLICY CHANGE NEEDED TO CREATE MORE HIGH OPPORTUNITY NEIGHBORHOODS IN OREGON.
O R E G O N C F.O R G / T O P 2 02 0
Even More Behind the Curtain:
Meeting the Wizards of
Local Manufacturing By Michael Dallas Miller SEDCOR Marketing and Communication Coordinator
his December, I will celebrate two years of working for SEDCOR as our Marketing and Communications Coordinator. In that time, I have been invited to see how the incredible products in our region get made and how the things I use every day are imagined, designed, crafted, and scaled up to arrive in my shopping cart day after day, week after week, and year after pandemic-dominated year. I have learned to never turn down an invitation from a member of our staff to do a site visit. If Nick, Abisha, Erik, or Alex ask me if I want to tag along to see anything happening in our region, the answer is always, “Absolutely I do.” So, when Alex Paraskevas told me he was going to check out Wizard Manufacturing, I cleared my calendar. If you live or work in Salem and have made a trip to Rickreall, Independence, Dallas, or the coast, you have seen Wizard’s facility. The Smurf blue stands out against the forested hills. And if you live anywhere in Northwest (or even as far as Texas and Oklahoma) you have probably seen Wizard’s handiwork at your local Winco. On a muggy, smokey morning, Alex and I pulled into Wizard’s parking lot and saw the crown jewel printed in vinyl on the tall windows facing Highway 22: The Cart Wizard. Barak Blake, Wizard’s Business Development Manager, tells us the story of the Cart Wizard after shaking our hands in the parking lot. “Our owner was working at Winco and kept seeing how much of a slog it was to bring carts back. First, customers had to bring them all the way back to the store. Then, employees would have to push small bunches of them. So, in his garage in Albany, he put together what is now the Cart Wizard. Now, one person can take an enormous train of carts from the parking lot back to the store with very minimal effort.”
8 Enterprise Fall 2021
Alex enthusiastically asks the same question on every site tour, “Can we see?” Like many local manufacturers, Wizard strikes a balance between barebones specialization, time-tested procedures and trade skills, and bleeding-edge technology. First, Barak shows us the automated cutting machinery they use to build intricate components from solid, shapeless bricks of metal. Each of us whispers some version of the phrase, “That’s super cool” as we watch robotic arms grab and place aluminum rectangles inside the machinery. A young employee in a Wizardbranded long-sleeved shirt explains how the machine takes digital designs and will chisel away, layer-by-layer, a finished component. All of this within an hour. Before I joined the SEDCOR team, I had a very Henry Ford, Interchangeable Parts view of manufacturing and imagined the black-and-white footage of people at assembly lines putting widgets together I had seen as a kid. The goal, it seemed to me, was to systematize the manufacturing process to the point where no one had to think. But, as Barak explains it to us, creativity is an increasingly valuable resource for manufacturers. “Each core role at Wizard has a specific creativity niche,” Barak says as he walks us through the open-air shop. “Design teams have to take a customer’s thoughts and produce actual working models. In production, the shop foreman must understand each team member's talents to build to very specific specs. Fabricators have to be creative in figuring out the best way to duplicate a project. It takes a lot of creative energy to build a repeatable system and then even more creativity to perfect it over time. As we continue to move through the production floor, we see other pieces being built and packaged for Winco’s all over the northwest. Wizard manufactures custom-made shelving units that
Be Amazed by Manufacturing
cap the end of Winco’s aisles. They produce the wheeled platform Winco uses for their famous bulk section and the curved metal racks that hold promoted products. Behind a food truck which is in the process of being refurbished for a local brewery is where Wizard assembles a simple machine that crushes whole almonds and roasted peanuts into almond and peanut butter, plain and roasted. Regional businesses like Winco prefer working with local manufacturers like Wizard because they build machines that last. “There are only a few other businesses in the country that build comparable products to the Cart Wizard and our nut butter machines,” says Barak. “But the difference is that we take so Top photo: Barak Blake shows Alex Paraskevas freshly (and robotically) milled components. Credit: Kristi Reed Botton photo: Wizard manufactures many of their part in-house. Credit: Krisit Reed.
much time to create simple machines that last. We avoid plastics whenever possible. The things we make are designed to last. They get fixed by our own crew. They rarely, if ever, get thrown away. Winco is a small grocery chain compared to other big players, so when they invest in things, they want them to last.” Over the last year, everyone has witnessed first-hand how unpredictable global supply chains can be; Barak says Wizard is still fighting for access to raw materials like steel and aluminum. But the year has also brought to light the depth and breadth of the resources we have in the Willamette Valley. We have the knowledge, technical intelligence, machinery, and innovative spirit to build whatever needs to be built. As we walk through the main office and back to the parking lot, Barak tells us about a special project they completed for an ice cream producer near Eugene. “One of their employees had lost four fingers on their dominate hand in an accident. They needed to figure out a way he could still work lifting and dumping very heavy containers of cream.” The team at Wizard designed and built a motorized cart that could be accelerated and steered with just a thumb. They built a special hydraulic system that could lift the entire platform up plus grab and dump the containers. “That was a very special project for us.” Working for SEDCOR has conditioned me to always wonder about the products I use every day. Who makes them? What does it take to bring it to market? How many jobs get created to build that thing? Now, whenever I shop at Winco, when I return my cart, grab an on-sale item from the end of the aisle, or press a button to get freshly crushed almond butter, I know the answers. I have seen behind the curtain. And I am excited for the opportunity to peak behind many more.
Enterprise Fall 2021 9
QUOTES “Every plane that flies, that we travel on, has some part (or parts) that were produced at an Albany area manufacturer. Our manufacturers specialize in titanium castings and machined parts for the aerospace industry. With the help of science and technology developments, we are creating robots that can work in environments designed for humans. They can walk, run, climb stairs, and use their arms for basic tasks that will help in many workplace environments.” — Agility Robotics “Most of the manufacturers in our region are relatively small operations, but they create significant numbers of finished products. Traditionally, they haven’t had access to top-notch data management software. Over this year, we’ve been working with great partners to build an open-source Enterprise Resource Planning software called OregonERP. It could give our local manufacturers a distinct advantage as they continue to do impossible things.” — Abisha Stone, SEDCOR “The wood products sector provides the resources and infrastructure to actively manage our forests, reducing the potential for wildfire which has a catastrophic effect on our environment. The development of mass timber products, which are substitutes for concrete and steel, have the potential to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the construction industry.” — Kyle Frerres, Frerres Lumber “A lot has changed since I started with SEDCOR 14 years ago. The technology, robotics, and software systems being used today is something I could not have imagined. But the core values have remained the same. Hard work. Creativity. Ingenuity. Our manufacturers get better every year, and I can’t wait to see what they will do next.” — Nick Harville, SEDCOR
“Manufacturing here in the Willamette Valley is extremely important to our local economies, provides thousands of jobs and supports a variety of other industries right here in Oregon. Manufacturing continues to utilize new technologies; computerized machine tools, robotics and 3D printing to remain competitive on a national and international scale. Many working in the manufacturing industry are proud of their Oregon-made products that are shipped to local customers and customers all over the world!” — Connie Lindsay, GK Machine “In the SEDCOR office we frequently refer to our region consisting of a “three-dimensional” ag supply chain, where we not only grow the crops, harvest the crops, perform valueadded processing, but also manufacture some of the harvesting and processing equipment, plus the warehousing and distribution and – of course – enjoying local products at a retail and consumer level. I’m always amazed at the creativity of the local manufacturers I have the privilege to visit.” — Alex Paraskevas, SEDCOR
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Be Amazed by Manufacturing
Freres Lumber, established in 1922 above the Santiam River, uses sustainable practices to provide high quality wood products. The family owned and operated company offers valuable job opportunities in the North Santiam Canyon.
We manufacture a range of products such as veneer, plywood, lumber, and now our own patented product, the Mass Ply Panel (MPP). MPP is a massive veneer based panel up to 12’ wide and 48’ long and is designed to be an environmentally superior, sustainable alternative to concrete and steel in construction. Visit frereslumber.com to learn more about products, services and job openings. Subscribe to our blog at frereslumber.com/blog.
MAIL: OFFICE: PHONE:
P.O. Box 276, Lyons, OR 97358 141 14th Street, Lyons, OR 97358 503.859.2121 FAX: 503.859.2112
Freres mills and cogeneration facility are open for tours.
An Equal Opportunity Employer
INSIGHTS FROM OMEP
Advanced Manufacturing Tech Key to Solving Workforce Challenges
Kleve Kee Managing Consultant, OMEP
When it comes to advanced manufacturing technologies, there is good and bad news for Oregon’s manufacturers. The good news — costs of advanced technology are coming down while the technology is getting easier to integrate. The bad news — companies that don’t adopt new technologies will be left behind. They will also miss opportunities to tap into the power of these tools to resolve workforce challenges such as retention, attraction, and training improvement. Thankfully, technology adoption doesn’t have to require massive shifts or be prohibitively expensive. Technologies with a low barrier to entry for manufacturers are as follows: • Integrating sensors into legacy machinery is less costly than buying new machines. Sensors can easily capture and relay information on virtually every quantifiable measure of interest to a manufacturing line. As sensors have developed, so have the avenues for relaying that information back to centralized databases where it can be fed into software to help managers make more informed decisions on pace, equipment maintenance, and waste reduction. For example, a small food manufacturer in Bend called Food for the Sole was able to utilize sensors on their dehydrators, saving food batches. OMEP has sensor boxes available for manufacturers who would like to test these technologies in their facility at no cost. • Augmented and Virtual Realty offer untapped training and recruitment potential. With younger workforce reluctant to enter manufacturing
careers, Virtual Reality (VR) offers a low-risk test scenarios. Imagine if you could offer a recruit the ability to train on equipment, or experience your facility from the comfort of their home? Utilize AR and VR can train them without pulling managers away from duties, and without stopping production. Quickly capture retiring workers knowledge in real-time, and disseminate the information in an actionable way so that employees can quickly cross-train and up-skill. OMEP has helped manufacturers implement a low-cost Learning Management Systems (LMS) to build and track training in a structured and more efficient way. We can create custom VR and AR simulations for your processes. • Automation and robotics have also become more accessible with the proliferation of less expensive off-the-shelf products. Programming and maintaining these solutions has become less expensive as OEMs have refined intuitive programming interfaces so that shop floor employees can set up simple robotic procedures without a degree in computer science. Harnessed intentionally, these technologies are more than just a curiosity — collectively, they have the potential to make manufacturing businesses more efficient, cut costs, reduce lead times and improve your workforce challenges, allowing companies to capture a greater share of their market. To ensure you capitalize on these technologies potential, implementation should be thoughtful part of a business strategy.
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503-390-4999 12 Enterprise Fall 2021
www.RichDuncanConstruction.com Be Amazed by Manufacturing
INSIGHTS FROM CHEMEKETA COMMUNITY COLLEGE
Machining in the Willamette Valley. . . solutions on the horizon Machining and manufacturing in the region stretching from northern to southern Oregon along the I-5 corridor has been growing at a fever pitch the last several years, Sheldon Schnider many shops are Chemeketa Community College Program witnessing huge Coordinator growth in orders and increased part demand with direct revenue for their companies which in turn help support local economies. The one common theme to most all shops is the lack of skilled machinists to build these parts and components, many educational facilities are pulling together to help with this training. Chemeketa’s Machining Technology’s program has been and is currently involved with area High Schools to promote and teach basic Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machine setup and operation to these students and to encourage them to go on to higher education after high school to get their AAS in machining. The demographic of student age in the Chemeketa program is getting younger every year and this can be attributed to getting the knowledge of a successful career in Machining to the students. With the help of Larry Cheyne, the dean of Applied Technologies there were many student tours of Building 20 ranging from local junior high to high school at Chemeketa prior to the outbreak of Covid-19. Technology in machining is growing leaps and bounds, when 30 years ago it was common that a CNC machinist understood how to work in three axis directly out of school, todays student is leaving with understanding and experience in how to program and run 5 axis machines as these types of equipment have become commonplace in many shops. Many shops today are also turning towards robotics as a way to streamline their processes, these are
programmable arms that load and unload the parts into the CNC machine. Another technology coming of age is Additive machining, this process will actually build up the part with powdered metal into a rough casting and when completed the same machine will then use cutting tools to mill or turn the part into the desired shape and size. This technology is especially well suited for the Aerospace industry. Programming software has grown within the industry as well, the power of the software enables the programmer to drive tool path along and give plane to achieve the desired shape of the part. Recently I asked Garrett Dias from MCAM Northwest a leading Mastercam software provider for industry and education his perspective on current technology in the machine shop and this is his response; “Technology is advancing in manufacturing faster than most other sectors. Many people talk about robots taking jobs, but what we’re seeing is a forced introduction of robots due to the lack of people applying for open positions. Even then, people are required to set up and train the robots. And a new set of skills is required every time that robot is tasked with a new part (which is often).” Another industry partner that the machining program has had a long relationship with is DMG/Mori Seiki Co., we are one of five schools in the United States that have an educational agreement with DMG/Mori. Another tool that DMG/ Mori brings to education and provides to our program is online video training courses in things such as CNC machine set-up, maintenance and programming as well as precision measuring, Geometric dimensioning and tolerencing and carbide tool feed and speed courses. These courses are assigned to the students with regular course homework and they can complete them at their own pace at home online, when they have successfully completed each module they will advance through the course and when completed they are provided with an Industry recognized certificate of completion from DMG/Mori.
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Enterprise Fall 2021 13
INSIGHTS FROM BBSI
Safety As Value
Eric Nelson BBSI Area Manager – Willamette Valley
Does your organization value safety? How is safety influencing your business culture? Awareness and understanding can prevent small problems from developing into larger complex and expensive issues and with the ongoing COVID 19 crisis, safety is more important than ever.
Creating a culture of safety as a value provides a solid foundation for any successful business. Business owners have moral and legal obligations to ensure worker safety and health. No business owner or leader has ever woken up in the morning and said they wanted their employees to be hurt that day. Yet, not placing Safety as a key value in the organization can lead to workplace injuries costing money through two separate ways: Direct and Indirect costs. Direct Costs vs. Indirect Costs Direct costs are simply the bill(s) for treating the injured employee. Fortunately, most direct costs are insured through workers compensation. Direct costs can easily be measured. Indirect costs are not very tangible and their true cost may never be realized. Internally, indirect costs might include decreased moral for all workers, production loss, hiring and training replacement workers, accident investigation, and injured worker management. Externally, indirect costs include possible OSHA citations and fines, customer loss due to decreased production, investment loss, adjusted workers compensation rates, and decreased trust within the community. For example, I have some money to invest and I have a choice between two companies in my city that produce the exact same product. Company A has an excellent safety record and is well known for ensuring its employees are protected from harm. Company B has been in the paper recently for workplace injuries and OSHA is known to frequent their job site. Where should my investment dollars go to guarantee the highest value and return? Values vs. Priorities Values are differentiated from a priority because priorities can change, values stay constant over long periods of time. And in the work environment, priorities are changing often and those changes could inadvertently put workers at risk. For example, think about your morning routine. You probably wake up, showered, get dressed, ate, prepared a lunch, brushed your teeth, and left with enough time to get to work on time. What if some conditions of a typical morning were changed? You could have a very important business meeting at 7 and slept through the alarm. A quick glance at the clock and we know we have to leave our house in 10 minutes in order to make our important meeting. What parts of our morning routine are we willing to sacrifice in order to get out the door on time? We might skip eating. Forget
14 Enterprise Fall 2021
lunch, that can be figured out later. Eating and packing a lunch are examples of changeable priorities. What is one thing we are not skipping? Getting dressed! Getting dressed (looking presentable) is not a priority because it is a value. Treating safety as a value has no exceptions. Values Drive Safety Cultures Company values drive workplace safety cultures. To help determine if a company values safety or simply prioritizes it, examining how they react to safety failures such as an injury gives us insight. An injury occurs at a facility. Does the business name, blame, and shame the offending party? Has the treacherous offender of whatever obscure safety policy been brought to justice through a write-up or termination? Unfortunately, this can be the response to an injury for a couple of reasons. First, OSHA since its inception in the 1970s, has been training businesses to react this way. The policies require naming, blaming, and shaming, usually at the expense of the business. Failure to do so could be viewed as the business’s negligence in enforcing employee safety resulting in higher fines and penalties. Second, name, blame, and shame is easy. It saves time. If an employee is manufacturing some steel, not wearing safety glasses, and gets something in their eye it is easy to name, blame, and shame the employee for not wearing their safety glasses. Write them up and move on, but what has anybody really learned from this exercise? The employees have likely learned not to get caught, and if something gets in their eye, not to tell anybody. Or, does the business diagnose and treat failure as the sum of a number of problems? Reacting to the eye injury in a different manner can demonstrate to employees that safety is a value and improve workplace cultures. The first step is to completely understand the means of failure. This opportunity to learn comes directly from the employee as they know most of what tasks they are doing. Gain trust by stating that your conversation is a learning opportunity and not a fault-finding mission. Second, compile what you have learned from the employee and take action. In our eye injury scenario maybe, you will find that safety glasses were not available, maybe they did not fit right, or the expectation of wearing them when the hazard presents itself was not effectively communicated. Safety Cultures Empower Employees This is where we come in – helping businesses build even better businesses including promoting a culture of trust and openness toward safety rather than one of crime and punishment which encourages and empowers employees to be more forthcoming. Business ownership/management can become more aware of, and take action on, small problems before they accumulate into large failures. In order for safety to be a value, it must be done naturally, just like getting dressed in the morning.
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Collin Gyenes — Techtonics Tuning
Collin Gyenes Interview Techtonics Tuning is a hidden gem. They ship high-end performance parts for Volkswagens and Audis all over the world. Starting from a two-bay shop in Riverside, California, their business moved and expanded into a 20,000 square-foot facility in Sheridan, a place owner Collin Geyenes says in a “great place to live.” We reached out to Collin during a workday to talk about the history of his business, the expansion of the mail-order car parts business, and choosing your business location based on two vital metrics: traffic and weather. SEDCOR:
Give us the elevator pitch for your business.
Colin Gyenes: W e started 40 years ago as just a two-bay repair shop in Riverside, California. AI started 39 years ago and we started doing more specific highperformance parts for the Volkswagen Rabbit. Making them go faster. And then we started slowly doing mail order, so we didn't have to rely so much on just general repair.
nd when we became full mail order, we said A "why be in Riverside when we could be in Oregon". And that's why we moved to Oregon in 1991. e started off with about 3,000 square feet. Then W we bought a place that had about 4,000 square feet, and then we added another 3,000. We outgrew that place. So, then we bought property down the hill in Sheridan on 10 acres, and then we built a 20,000 square foot building. What does growth look like for your business?
Gyenes: I think our growth is up right now because of COVID and people not going on vacations. So, they have some extra "mad" money. For instance, I have a friend that is saving $350 a month by working from home just on fuel. There's a lot of people in that situation. So that's been helping our business. Around 2004, and let's say kind of before the crash in 2008, we were doing about $3 million a year. We're down to about $2 million a year, which is fine. We have eight employees instead of 12 employees; that was hectic having so many employees because there's just always conflicts. I’m kind of happy with it. I'll be glad when COVID is over for everyone's health, but I don't want to hire a bunch of people that I have to fire. Until two years ago, my youngest employee had been here 17 years, so we had no turnover. SEDCOR:
As you said, you’re a transplant. What has been the most notable benefits of being in Oregon and running your business here?
16 Enterprise Fall 2021
Gyenes: Okay. I was really surprised when we moved here, how much other manufacturing is here! I always just thought it was logging and farming. We have access to Portland, which is nice. Also, the cost of the shipping. Sometimes we lose a week to seven days and shipping and trucking companies are not fun to deal with because they don't take care of anything. So, to answer your question, the quality of living here. SEDCOR:
ou said you started with VW Rabbits? What is Y your niche now?
I t's still Volkswagen and Audi exhaust systems. We still do exhaust for the newer cars. But because we started in ‘82, when Rabbits were still brand new, a lot of the products that we made in ‘82 we still make today.
Our competition doesn't make any parts for the old cars. So that's just kind of our savior that we never dropped the old product line. Because the value of the old cars are going up. There's a website called “Bring a Trailer”, which is an online auction place. The most I've seen a VW Rabbit sell for $36,000. That's crazy because that Rabbit was a $10,000 car brand new. So that's why people are wanting to buy parts because the cars have a value; that they can invest money in them to keep them going. SEDCOR:
ou have to compete in a global market. What’s Y that like for a local manufacturer?
Gyenes: I am surprised by some of the odd countries we send parts to. We sent parts to Pakistan. We also ship to Dubai and a lot of the big oil-producing countries. We sell a lot to Canada, a lot of Mexico, and to Germany because that's the homeland of the VWs. SEDCOR:
hat do you think people would be surprised W to know about our local industry?
eople come here and they see this relatively new P building, how big it is, how clean it is, how nice our equipment is. They're pretty surprised that they ask, “Why did you pick Sheridan?” Because this is where we want to live, you know?
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Collin Gyenes — Techtonics Tuning
Techtonics Tunings moved from Riverside, Calfornia to Sheridan in 1991.
To drive to Sheridan my commute is 14 miles, 17 minutes, which is no big deal, especially compared to what my commute used be in California. I used to commute from Long Beach to Riverside for 70 miles. If you wanted to start a business here, I would definitely recommend it. I could list all of the business-y reasons, but really, it is just a great place to live. Learn more about Techtonics Tunings at techtonicstuning.com
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Enterprise Fall 2021 17
Go Beyond The Bottle with SEDCOR’s Newest Animated Video During our annual Board and Membership Meeting at the Salem Convention Center, we premiered our latest animated video. Our goal was to explore the vast, intriguing, and intricate industry of wine making in the Willamette Valley. As the narrator explains, “Ever since the first grapes were planted in the early 1960’s, a beautifully intricate industry has sprouted and moved well beyond our borders.” Even our closely-involved staff at SEDCOR is constantly surprised by just how much value is added to our region by every single value-add agricultural product we produce, wine grapes included. Just when we think we have a complete picture, a new and fascinating layer presents itself and we are invited to see more and more ways our growers, processors, researches, manufacturers are making our region, bottle by bottle, the best place to be. This year, we have released two animated videos: one
18 Enterprise Fall 2021
exploring the hop industry and now one looking at wine. But readers should remember that Oregon grows, processes, and explores over 170 specialty crops, most of which take root in the Willamette Valley. Each of these have their own unique story to tell. And we are excited to continue telling them. “Beyond the Bottle” was animated by One Third Bird Design (one3rdbird.com/), narrated by Arielle Miller, and recorded by High Sierra Collective (highsierracollective.com). The best place to view the video is on our Facebook page (facebook.com/sedcor).
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Enterprise Fall 2021 19
Welcome Commissioner Jeremy Gordan
It is an honor to serve the people of Polk County as its newest commissioner and I appreciate this opportunity to introduce myself to the SEDCOR community.
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Prior to my appointment to Board of Commissioners, I served as mayor of Falls City, a beautiful former timber town nestled in the coast range in western Polk County. I learned quickly that intergovernmental partnerships and collaboration across sectors are essential to achieve the goals set by the community. Perhaps most importantly, personal and transparent relationships with community members were necessary to build trust, ensure that federal, state, and county investments were implemented in locally resonant ways, and that community concerns were integrated so they did not balloon into project killing movements. These values and partnerships, along with the hard work of city staff, helped secure federal funding for a new wastewater treatment facility, convert a blighted main street property into a business and community incubation hub, and set the community’s sites toward its future as a recreation and tourist destination. For these reasons and many others, I am thrilled about the opportunity to work with Travel Salem and the Polk County Tourism Alliance (PCTA) as the liaison commissioner for Polk County’s destination development efforts. Polk County is packed with tourism and recreation assets, many of which are under discovered or ripe for development. Supporting these efforts for the benefit of residents and visitors alike will aid in our
20 Enterprise Fall 2021
economic recovery, increase pride for our county, and inspire collective optimism for its future. Of course, this optimism must be tempered by the persistent effects of the pandemic and potential delay of a post-Covid tourism surge. The development of safe and responsible outdoor recreation access to public lands within Polk County ought to be pursued in addition to the critical focus areas such as agritourism, unique culinary experiences, cultural and heritage tourism, and others. And we must be poised to maximize our benefit from the recovery. As the exodus from large cities continues, Polk County is and will continue to be a prime location to relocate and set up shop for young professionals. Workforce retention and recruitment opportunities may result as an ancillary benefit from our tourism investments. However, it is critical that we align our efforts with existing development goals of our cities and county while prioritizing quality of life improvements for residents. As someone who for over a decade lived in cities with populations topping a million people, I can safely say that the quality of life in Polk County is paradisiacal. I look forward to working with our many talented and innovative partners to celebrate this fact. Whether you find yourself in the Riverfront Park in Independence, or in one of the world class wineries near West Salem or Airlie, munching on Azuls Tacos in Dallas, or deep within the ancient forests of Valley of the Giants, Polk County is the place to be.
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Enterprise Fall 2021 21
Yamhill County Manufacturing Holding Strong by Commissioner Mary Starrett “…Bottom line, we are doing okay, and if it weren’t for the pandemic, we would be doing great”.
While Yamhill County is best known for world-class Pinot Noir wine, manufacturing is also a large part of our economy. Though shutdowns resulting from COVID-19 mandates have had a devastating impact on our diverse turing industries, they have managed to hold
Statewide, Yamhill County ranks second behind Morrow County in the number of manufacturing jobs accounting for a full 20% of all employment. Among the County’s diverse manufacturers are Newberg’s dental equipment leaders A-dec and DCI, McMinnville’s Meggitt Polymers & Composites, Cascade Rolling Steel, RP Advanced Mobile Systems, NW Rapid Manufacturing, ExcelTech Electronics and Betty Lou’s Foods. Hampton Lumber’s Willamina sawmill has been in operation since 1942. Once the largest in the country, this mill is Hampton’s largest facility with more than 250 employees. Though jobs were lost due to layoffs, other manufacturers shifted production to accommodate the COVID mandates with added shifts when possible. McMinnville Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Gioia Goodrum reports that businesses “such as RP Advanced Mobile Systems shifted to making masks and disinfecting UV lights for industrial and commercial use … McMinnville School District (used) some of their products. Other manufacturers … kept right on working and producing their regular product through the pandemic as it was essential. What is… an issue now is the supply chain, and the lack of employees, for most businesses.”
Just getting off the ground, Newberg’s Ewing Young Distillery and the American Pioneer Spirits brand had to change course to stay afloat. They made a switch from producing distilled spirits to making hand sanitizer last April. Just two years after they opened their distillery, their wholesale liquor store sales growth was doubling every quarter. As a new brand without an advertising budget, they relied on sampling which was restricted at liquor stores and impacted by bar and restaurant closures. Essentially starting over, nearly all their initial progress in the wholesale market will have to be recouped. Co-owner Bev Root says even that will be a struggle because “…. in-store tastings (at) liquor stores are once again… on hold due to re-established mask mandates and threatened lockdowns. It is very frustrating and worrying. My entire life savings is in this business and it feels as if we are always battling forces over which we have absolutely no control” “Bottom line, we are doing okay, and if it weren’t for the pandemic, we would be doing great.” To support our businesses through these difficult times, Yamhill County, in partnership with the Strategic Economic Development Corporation (SEDCOR), awarded almost $2 million in 2021 to businesses and projects to help offset the impacts of the COVID-19 closures. In addition, about a quarter of Yamhill County’s $21 million American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding has been earmarked to further address the economic impacts of the COVID shutdowns. Yamhill County manufacturers have worked hard to secure a footing in their industries; we’ll stand beside them to support their continued success during these challenging times.
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Apply today: go.chemeketa.edu/truckdriving 22 Enterprise Fall 2021
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email@example.com Enterprise Fall 2021 23
Facing Challenges, Building Solutions Together Colm Willis, Marion County Commissioner The last year and a half has been a roller coaster. Countywide our systems have been stretched to capacity several times over and our local manufacturers here in Marion County have not been immune from these challenges. In the spring of 2020 the governor’s stay at home orders caused many of our manufacturers to temporarily close their doors. Once the shutdowns ended, supply chain disruptions threatened our manufacturers’ ability to keep production flowing. Particular inputs would take weeks to arrive, impeding some of our manufacturers’ ability to get finished products out to customers. However, in part because of limited supply, and the federal stimulus pumped into the economy, many of our manufacturers who survived these challenges were able to raise their prices and saw more demand for their products than ever before. In my part of Marion County, a local wood products company saw some of the highest prices for their products that they had seen in years. Right on the heels of this boom in pricing, a huge labor shortage hit all of our manufacturers particularly hard. Even before the pandemic, competition for competent workers had become fierce. Since the government decided to relax the rules for unemployment benefits, keeping a steady workforce has become nearly impossible. The owner of one local manufacturer recently told me that his company could double its production overnight if they could find employees to hire, but that workers simply aren’t out there. This has become a true crisis for our manufacturing industry.
Despite these challenges however, we are blessed in this region to have manufacturing employers with experience who are in it for the long haul. Many of our employers had already set aside reserves of raw material that they were able to pull from when supply chain disruptions hit. I spoke with one who had already raised wages and improved training once Amazon’s distribution center opened, in order to remain a competitive employer. As a result, when the latest labor shortage hit, they already had a dedicated and loyal workforce to rely on. Here at Marion County we are trying to do our part to help our local employers through our investment of our economic development lottery dollars in career and technical education and our new youth wage grant. This new program allows an employer who hires a high school student between the ages of 14 and 17 to be reimbursed $4 an hour of that individuals wage. Our goal is that this program will allow students to get critical work experience and help employers find eager workers. You can reach out to Marion County’s economic development office or Willamette Workforce Partnership to learn more about this program. Despite the ups and downs of the last eighteen months, our manufacturing sector in the Willamette Valley is strong and resilient. With a little less interference from the government, this important sector is poised for incredible growth.
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www.dalkeconstruction.com Enterprise Fall 2021 25
REGION OF INNOVATORS
Western Interlock's High-Tech Bricks In many ways, bricks haven’t changed much since the Romans. Materials are mixed. Pressure is added. Then heat. But even though the brick itself has not been radically transformed, the process by which bricks are made has seen incredible change. In the Willamette Valley, Western Interlock is leading that change. Landon Pegg, Western’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing has witness that changed first-hand. Western Interlock was founded in Rickreall in 1990; Pegg joined the team in 2007 and has done work welding, loading trucks, and as the production manager. “Ever since we added our second machine in 2000, we have been adding more and more automation to our process,” says Pegg. “Since 2015, we have essentially been fully automated. Every brick is moved by machine through the whole process. Mixing. Adding to molds. Pressuring and firing. Even sorting and palletizing.” Two, eight-person shifts are able to manufacture thousands of bricks. But even with all their gradual automation, Western Interlock has not decreased the size of their workforce. “We’ve hired more people to maintain the machines,” says Pegg. “People who have a mechanical mindset and know how to fix things on the fly. Honestly, people who grew up on farms fit very well into our business.” The advantages of automation, to Pegg, are in both the amount of bricks they manufacture daily, but also in the quality of the bricks that finally make it to the market. “Humans tend to make a lot of mistakes. Our automated system tends to make fewer mistakes. Plus, automation allows us to spend our time and energy on creating and refining a great, highly repeatable system.” Quality control is built into the system they have created. Laser scanners interrogate every brick for defects and automatically take them off the line. In the future, Pegg hopes to integrate cameras and machine learning into their system. “Eventually, we’ll be able to show the machine a sample of a ‘good’ brick.
Then, every brick the camera sees will reinforce what is good and the machine will get better and better at identifying the kind of product we want going out the customers.” In the short-term, the team at Western Interlock is working on ways to crush and reconstitute rejected bricks back into the production line. “Like I said, bricks themselves haven’t changed much since they were first invented,” says Pegg. “Generally, once you mix the concrete, it is really hard to work it back into something useable as a brick. But we believe if we can figure out the right ratios, we can do all of our own recycling onsite, which would be pretty unique in our industry.” As a business, Pegg says they haven’t ever been afraid of innovation. And, in many ways, innovation is built into the nature of the product. Like an industrial set of LEGOS, Western offers an enormous range of interlocking bricks builders can use to create one-of-a-kind projects. For instance, contractors can put down patios in a near-infinite number of patterns. Or, a backyard firepit built specifically for each customer. “Contractors, which is most of our business, love our product. They are constantly showing the creative things they do. They build these beautiful projects and do things our team hasn’t even thought of yet. In many ways, we and our customers innovate together. We get recommendations for new idea and products, some of which eventually work their way into our process.”
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Enterprise Fall 2021 27
REGION OF INNOVATORS
The Radical Adventure of Producing Locally Bill Amos knows how to survive. “I really think my time spent rock climbing and mountaineering has given me unique tools to make it as a small business owner, especially a business owner in the world of manufacturing.” Today, Bill is the owner of NW Alpine (his own brand of technical outdoor apparel) and Kichatna Apparel Manufacturing (the contract side of his business), both of which operate from a facility in east Salem. But business was not always on his horizon. After earning his Masters in Teaching and becoming a professor in Mt Hood Community College’s outdoor program, Amos become what he lovingly self-describes as a “dirt bag.” “In my twenties, I got totally obsessed with climbing,” he says. “I just loved being outside. I was rock climbing, ice climbing, and alpine climbing. Then, around 2008, at the height of the financial crisis, I got interested in business, particularly in manufacturing.” Since his father built a career in the Midwest as a food industry entrepreneur, Amos understood the importance of manufacturing stateside and the dangers associated with losing it. But before he could work on changing the way manufacturing was done, he wanted to tackle a more specific problem: design, refine, and manufacturer high-end technical climbing gear in the United States. “If you look at most of the recognizable brands in the outdoor world, many got their start doing technical gear. Most have expanded into lifestyle; there is more money there since the market is bigger. But nearly all have moved their production offshore. I wanted to see if I could create something specifically for climbers and do all of the production here.” So, in 2010, Bill launched NW Alpine. “The northwest, especially Oregon, is a recognizable hub for a lot of apparel brands. I knew I could find a lot of talented designers and product engineers. But most people do not realize the major brands used to do a lot of their production here, not just have corporate offices and distribution centers. So, just the fact that I was going to actually sew clothes here was pretty out there when I started.” At first, Amos simply made gear he knew his climbing buddies would buy. Dirt bags talk enthusiastically amongst themselves, so his business quickly grew through word-of-mouth and by other
climbers seeing the gear worn on rock faces all over the world. The company quickly outgrew their space as they found new customers beyond their circles of climbers. For most apparel business, this would mean lowering costs by offshoring production. Amos did not do that. “I’ve always been a bit of a contrarian,” Amos says with a wry smile. “Few people understand the importance of having a strong localized manufacturing sector. But during COVID, we saw supply chain experience major disruptions. Material was hard to find and finished goods were nearly impossible to make. The struggle to find and then to make PPE is a perfect example.” Amos says he has seen some re-shoring of production, but the knowledge lost in the last 40 years has been much harder to bring back home. “Especially in our industry—small order, high-end, niche apparel—you can only automate so much; we need humans who can sew. In order to make our business work and to pay our people well, we have to focus our innovative thinking on being as efficient and waste-free as possible.” Operating a business is a lot like climbing a rock wall: Simply not falling is a victory; every new hold and each new step up are unique obstacles to overcome; it takes constant grit and unwavering creative thinking. Reshoring manufacturing in a meaningful way will be like reaching a high peak and returning home in white-out conditions. “No matter what,” says Amos, recalling a similar climbing trip, “you have no choice but to just keep moving.”
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