New facility gives Columbia Precast room to grow

Currently at about 20 percent site capacity, Woodland-based manufacturer will increase jobs, production

Columbia Precast Products founder Ron Sparks inside the company's new Woodland facility.

Expanding acreage to more than five times that of their old site, one Pacific Northwest company has moved into a new manufacturing facility that will allow them to both meet market demands and prepare for future growth.

Established in 2013, Columbia Precast Products (CPP) responded to a recession-fueled need in the market to supply precast concrete infrastructure products to contractors, public agencies and townships across western Washington and western Oregon.

After reaching site capacity in 2014, CPP attained a 23-acre property at 1765 Howard Way in Woodland in 2015, moving from their four-acre property in Washougal.

“We went out and were looking for a minimum of 15 acres, and parcels that big or bigger are hard to come by,” said Ron Sparks, general manager of CPP. “There just happened to be a few choices up here in Woodland and once we saw it and liked the proximity to Interstate 5 and how it fit in the geographical market area that we serve, it made a lot of sense at that point.”

Partnering with RSV Building Solutions, a Vancouver-based design-build contractor, CPP made plans for the creation and completion of their new $21 million headquarters, including industry-leading equipment and technologies that would support increased growth and allow for expansion.

“It was a very good partnership,” said Sparks. “As far as the local aspect of it, I think that is vital as anything now that we’re done with the project because they (RSV) have local knowledge, local contacts … of how this area works and how to get things done, and a company outside of this area might have struggled to learn that.”

Columbia Precasting
Photo courtesy of Columbia Precast Products

Like many construction projects, building Columbia Precast Product’s new facility did not come without its challenges. During development, the unexpected problem of poor soil quality arose, causing the site to require 750 stone piers in order to guarantee surface stability.

“The soil conditions changed drastically from the building right next door to the north of us, so that [issue] caught us a little off guard,” said Sparks. “I guess I wouldn’t even call that a problem – I would maybe call that a surprise that added a couple of months to the timeline.”

Enduring unanticipated difficulties, CPP ultimately completed construction of their new headquarters this spring, which features a 51,000-square-foot manufacturing facility, a 5,000-square-foot office and a 6,000-square foot storage facility. Within the manufacturing facility itself are four overhead cranes, two batch plants and distribution systems for water, air, power and steam at each building column.

Along with advancements in site facilities, the company has continued to move toward environmentally-friendly production methods. CCP’s new headquarters is the first precast concrete facility in the United States to have received Sustainable Materials Rating Technology (SMaRT) certification through the Institute for Market Transformation to Sustainability. The certification represents the fact that the company’s processes implement products and techniques that help to lower their carbon footprint and impact the precast concrete’s lifecycle.

Currently operating at about 20 percent of site capacity, CPP employs 40 people, increasing from its 30-person workforce at its Washougal location.

Columbia Precasting
Photo courtesy of Columbia Precast Products

With an upgraded site and increased volume, the company believes its expansion will equate to more jobs. Similarly, with their elevated facilities, CPP also plans to expand their product line in 2018 by adding a technologically-advanced process to make manholes for sanitary sewer systems that will increase the lifespan and reduce maintenance costs for the end user.

“We’re bringing on a couple of new products that we hadn’t done previously … primarily because we have the capacity now to handle more volume,” said Sparks. “I’m making an estimate that it (the new facility) is more than quadrupling our production capabilities and really unlimited growth potential on our part, so that is why we’re looking to expand.”

Sparks believes the growth capabilities allowed by this new facility provide an exciting and bright potential for his company.

“I think that the new facility is affording us really the opportunity to make as high of a quality of product that can be made in our industry,” said Sparks. “That, coupled with the capacity of the plant – that’s what I’m looking forward to.”

Columbia Precast Products to host 2017 Top Projects reception

The Vancouver Business Journal will hold the 2017 Top Projects Reception & Awards Presentation at Columbia Precast Products’ new headquarters. The event will be held on Wednesday, July 26 from 4 to 7 p.m. Now in its 13th year, Top Projects recognizes construction projects in three areas: commercial development, residential development and public works. To purchase tickets to the event, visit www.vbjusa.com/top-projects-awards.

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