Oregon’s Most Admired Companies List 2008

Excerpt from Portland Business Journal
December 12, 2008

Profile: Oregon Iron Works No. 8

When Oregon Iron WorksVice President Chandra Brown looks to the future, she sees a lot of work ahead for the 64-year-old operation.

Due for completion this spring in the firm’s Clackamas plants is a prototype streetcar which marks a major milestone in U.S. manufacturing: It will be the first streetcar made in this country for about a half-century. After its launch it will operate on the Portland Streetcar lines.

It’s hoped the prototype. as a Buy America product with at least 60 percent U.S.made components, will attract dozens of orders from expanding mass transit systems, and lead to many new Portland-area jobs.

The firm is competing to build a fleet of streetcars for the city of Tucson, Ariz., and hopes 10 build streetcars for Portland’s Eastside loop.

The streetcar’s design is based on the now-operating Portland streetcars, which were manufactured by the Czech Republic nrm Skoda. Its construction has meant finding U.S. companies to make the parts. “We definitely believe in U.S. manufacturing – the work force is a critical strength for us,” Brown says.

The streetcar’s design is based on the now-operating Portland streetcars, which were manufactured by the Czech Republic nrm Skoda. Its construction has meant finding U.S. companies to make the parts.

“We definitely believe in U.S. manufacturing – the work force is a critical strength for us,” Brown says.

Oregon Iron also is a partner, with Vigor Industrial LLC, in U.S. Barge LLC, a two-year-old barge building venture at Vigor’s Cascade General shipyard on Swan Island. Pointing to a backlog of orders for the multimillion-dollar barges, Brown says the effort “is going very, very well.”

Anticipating that the Obama administration will turn the focus to rebuilding this country’s fraying infrastructure, Brown says Oregon Iron Works is “fairly optimistic about the future, but that’s because we’re so diverse.”

The company, which also specializes in structural members for bridges, anticipates a steady stream of work will come with the demand to repair and replace aging bridges, both locally and nationwide. Recent or ongoing projects include work on the Golden Gale and Oakland Bay bridges in California, and the Hood Canal bridge in Washington.

Renewable energy – Oregon Iron is involved in the wave energy project off the Oregon coast – is viewed as anothe.· growth market.

Oregon Iron also has built items for the Defense Department, most of them hush-hush, including a semi-submersible patrol vessel for the U.S. Navy.

“What we do isn’t like bullets and blankets. We’re not doing anything for the active war effort.”

-  Jeanie Senior