October Message from Board Chair Scott Parrish

Published Friday, October 4, 2019


Dear Members,

Friday Oct. 4 was National Manufacturing Day, and OBI celebrated by promoting our manufacturing members all week long, from Sept. 30 to Oct. 6.

As the leader of an Oregon-grown manufacturing company myself, I know well the challenges Oregon manufacturers face every day. It was great to read what some of my manufacturing compatriots think about the issues I deal all the time in the seven member features OBI developed to show the breadth of makers in our state. We let the leaders of these diverse companies -- Tucker Sno-Cat, Oregon Fruit Products, Deschutes Brewery, EVRAZ Oregon Steel Mills, Pendleton Woolen Mills, Eberhard’s Dairy and Hampton Lumber – tell their stories through Q&A profiles. . Thank you to everyone who participated.  

While the profiles told each company’s story – which I would recommend reading as each one is unique and interesting – OBI also asked about why they thought manufacturing is important, and challenges they face as a company in Oregon. Their responses show the hurdles they face, such as regulatory issues, supply availability or finding high skilled workers, and the key role manufacturing plays in Oregon by producing family wage jobs.

I’d like to share a few of their responses. If you’d like to read more, visit OBI’s member profiles webpage.


What are your thoughts on the current state of manufacturing? Thoughts on the future of manufacturing?

With the current economy, some of our vendors are so busy we need to order materials three to six months ahead. It’s also hard to find skilled welders and machinists; everyone is busy. That’s a good thing. We hope it lasts; it’s been so nice for us.

“Overall though, it’s tough in Oregon. The taxes and regulations can end up chasing manufacturers out of the state. It’s a burden, but it’s hard to leave here. My hope is that in the future more people will understand how important manufacturing is for Oregon.”

 – Maralee Tucker Sullivan, CEO, Tucker Sno-Cat Corporation

“Oregon can be an expensive place to operate. Additionally, state taxes and regulations are only making it more difficult and costly. We plan to work with our state representatives to make it an easier place to manufacture. For others, the regulations and taxes may be a deterrent to build a location in Oregon, but we love it here.”

 – Michael LaLonde, President and CEO, Deschutes Brewery

“Manufacturing such as ours will continue to be challenged. People often don’t want us in their backyard, yet they forget they use these products every day, driving across bridges, advocating wind generation. We need to continue to educate on the importance of manufacturing and its role in diversifying our economy. It may not be as sexy as a computer chip or software, but it is core to our economy.”

– Bruce Iredale, VP and General Manager, EVRAZ Oregon Steel Mills


Why is it important to have manufacturing in Oregon?

“The simple answer is that it is important to have manufacturing in Oregon to create living wage jobs for our citizens. This is something that I am passionate about. It is our goal to create opportunities for Oregonians that they can depend on, be able to support their families, and have an excellent quality of life in this great state we get to live in.”

– Mark Eberhard, Owner and General Manager, Eberhard’s Dairy

“Oregon relies on food and beverage manufacturing and it has a significant impact on the Oregon economy. It’s important that all food-related manufacturing, from the field to the consumer, stays healthy for the state to stay healthy. Oregon today is known globally for quality, uniqueness and adventure. These help drive tourism, as does the beer, wine and food industry here, and all trickle down to benefit the economy. I see a very bright future.”

– Chris Sarles, CEO, Oregon Fruit Products

“In addition to supplying direct employment, manufacturing provides a market for local service providers and for raw material providers. Due to these add-on effects, manufacturing has increased economic impact and should be supported and appreciated.”

 – John Bishop, President and CEO, Pendleton Woolen Mills

“Manufacturing is the backbone of our economy. This is particularly true in rural areas. In the coastal communities where we operate, forest sector opportunities pay roughly twice the average annual salary for the area. 

“As a region, the Pacific Northwest consumes massive amounts of wood products, from lumber to paper and everything in between. We take great pride in being able to grow and make these products locally.” 

 – Steve Zika, CEO, Hampton Lumber

OBI is proud to represent hundreds of manufacturers, large and small. We know manufacturing is a key component of Oregon’s economy and it provides quality jobs for Oregon families. We believe that, working together, we can continue to advocate for businesses and manufacturers, with a focus ensuring Oregon keeps its economic engine running, including the manufacturing sector.