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March 4, 2021

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Update: Sapa will employ up to 100 at Port of Vancouver

Aluminum extruder will transfer in some workers but expects to hire others

By , Columbian Port & Economy Reporter
Published:

Sapa Extrusions, a subsidiary of Norwegian industrial conglomerate Orkla, plans to bring up to 100 existing and new jobs to Vancouver by expanding operations into a 142,800-square-foot building it will lease from the Port of Vancouver, the company said Monday.

As part of the move, Sapa, which makes aluminum products such as deck railing and bike frames, plans to relocate equipment and some workers from facilities in Portland and British Columbia to the port-owned building at 2001 Kotobuki Way.

‘Outgrowing ourselves’

The move will come in phases, with full production at the new site expected to be up and running by the end of this year. “We’re just kind of outgrowing ourselves and we need to prepare for expansion, and this gives us the means of doing that,” Jess Cline, Sapa’s employee relations manager, said of the company’s decision.

Sapa’s total work force is roughly 550. Cline said the 100 jobs the company expects to set up at the Port of Vancouver will be a combination of newly created positions and existing ones that will be relocated from the company’s Portland and British Columbia facilities.

Cline declined to say how many of the jobs will be new and how many will be relocated. In the Portland-Vancouver region, Cline said, the company has many workers who live in the Vancouver area and who work in Portland. He added that the company expects to start recruiting people to fill the new positions in July.

Cline said the company looked at several other places before choosing the building at the Port of Vancouver. The decision came down to location, the size of the building and access to freeways, Cline said.

As Sapa’s relocation efforts get under way, the Port of Vancouver is making preparations of its own. The port has applied for an $800,000 state loan to improve the vacant building Sapa plans to inhabit. To secure the loan, port officials will give a presentation to the state Community Economic Revitalization Board on May 19, said Curtis Shuck, the port’s director of economic development and facilities

The loan would pay for concrete floors, electrical improvements and upgraded heating, ventilating and air conditioning for the building. The building has been vacant since 2008, when Panasonic closed operations there. That same year, Sapa considered developing a different site at the port for a manufacturing facility but backed off because of the cooling economy.

To complete the current deal, Sapa and port officials are negotiating a long-term lease.

B.C. plant closed

Sapa plans to move a 7-inch press from its Port Coquitlam, B.C., plant, which closed in March, to the port-owned building in May, the company said in a news release. The company will make improvements to the relocated equipment and put it into production in July.

In a second phase of its relocation, the company in August will move its extrusion die manufacturing operation from its main plant in Portland to the port-owned building. “The extra space will allow the die shop to be expanded and modernized, thus almost doubling its capacity,” according to the company’s news release.

In Portland, the company plans to add three machining centers and make other upgrades to boost the versatility and efficiency of its die-making operation. Additionally, a 6-inch press from the company’s main Portland plant will be transformed into a 5-inch press to be used by its Technical Dynamics Aluminum division, the company said.

Sapa is a subsidiary of Oslo, Norway-based Orkla. The company produces various aluminum shapes, including rod, bar, pipe and tube, for markets ranging from residential and commercial construction to mass transit, and solar and renewable energy.

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