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News / Business / Clark County Business

Northwest Pipe foresees a solid 2018

Vancouver-based firm back to ‘good norm,’ its CFO says

By Troy Brynelson, Columbian staff writer
Published: June 6, 2018, 5:30pm

Northwest Pipe Co. is feeling pretty good — tubular, even — after its annual shareholder meeting on Wednesday.

The Vancouver-headquartered pipe manufacturer says its third and fourth fiscal quarters this year are shaping up to be among the strongest in recent years. It has projects coming to Texas, Oklahoma and California.

“It’s a return to the good norm,” said Chief Financial Officer Robin Gantt. “It’s going back five-plus years ago when results were a lot better on the water-transmission side, which is of course all we have now.”

Northwest Pipe today survives on engineering and supplying steel pipe for water transmission. Over the last few years it has jettisoned its business within the oil and gas industry, and expenses have been cut in half from where they were five years ago, according to Gantt.

Although it posted a $1.9 million loss in its latest fiscal quarter, it is an improvement from the $3.8 million loss a year prior.

“What I’m proud of is the top line is so low,” said Gantt. “To me, the losses are minimal for that. We’ve been able to minimize and shift and figure out how to operate in this market where business went down so far.”

Northwest Pipe Co. made $5.8 million in profit last year, per filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, up from a $300,000 loss the year before.

Some nationwide and even international trends could affect the company’s course.

Talk of infrastructure improvements, such as water systems, has ramped up as the federal government flirts with an infrastructure spending package. Gantt said they would support such an effort.

And trade wars could impact sales, though the extent is still unclear. Canada and Mexico have announced retaliatory tariffs against U.S. goods that Northwest Pipe would have to pay to export its pipe.

Some peers in the industry have already bumped up prices in order to compensate for the extra expense.

“Practically speaking, companies have to do what they have to do,” said Gantt.

Northwest Pipe closed trading Wednesday at $21.48 per share, up 3 cents. The company is traded on the Nasdaq Exchange as NWPX.

Columbian staff writer