A desire to rebuild failing infrastructure, while providing good jobs to women and people of color are the twin engines driving the growth at Willamette Technical Fabricators, with facilities in Northwest Portland and Vancouver.
“We have grown from two to 42 people in the last year and a half,” said CEO Alicia Chapman.
WTF recently received a Prosper Portland Inspiring Diversity Grant to help expand its on-the-job training programs to specifically target entry-level apprentices from nontraditional backgrounds, particularly women, people of color and people who have been affected by the criminal justice system.
“We work closely with community-based organizations such as Oregon Tradeswomen and Constructing Hope to offer high-skill, high-wage, high-demand career opportunities to women and people of color,” Chapman said.
Despite widespread worker turnover across industries, WTF has thus far been able to retain its employees with zero voluntary attrition.
“This loyalty is due to transparent and highly competitive wages (our average annual base salary is $84,232), career advancement and mentoring, and progressive HR policies,” Chapman said.
These policies include unlimited paid time off for salary workers, comprehensive benefits for everyone including paid family medical leave for all genders, and flexibility for our staff to maintain a healthy work-life balance, including students and parents.
The company’s focus is on transportation and clean energy infrastructure, including bridges, hydropower dams, wave and wind energy, as well as other custom, complex fabrication projects.
“Our manufacturing methods are aligned with our values to promote social, environmental and economic sustainability, Chapman said.
While Willamette Technical Fabricators has only been around for just two years, it hasn’t taken very long to achieve some formidable goals.
“WTF doubled its 2021 revenue in the first half of 2022, and we are on track to double it again by the end of the year,” Chapman said, in part thanks to major federal investments in the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the recent clean energy bill.
A healthy bottom line is a powerful motivator, but Chapman is quick to give credit where it’s due — namely WTF’s 42 employees.
“Sorry if this is cliché, but it’s our people,” Chapman said. “We have a strict ‘no a—–e’ policy, and we’re serious about having a culture that embraces diversity and learning.
“Pretty much everything we make is being built for the first time, and probably the last time, so humility and a beginner’s mindset is key. There’s no room for big egos or brilliant jerks.”
Company: Willamette Technical Fabricators
Location: 8444 N.W. St. Helens Road, Portland
Number of employees: 42
What they make: Custom, complex steel fabrications for transportation and clean energy infrastructure
Read the full article in the Portland Business Journal
This article was republished with permission from the Portland Business Journal.
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