After spending the previous month delving into all things green, I’ve shifted my focus back to greenbacks, or lack thereof. More specifically, I have been analyzing the losses and gains of Oregon’s most important privately held companies. The big picture, as you may have guessed, looks bleak. But there are some encouraging surprises buried in there as well.
I don’t want to give away the results of our annual Private 150 survey, but since that list is ranked by revenues and this blog is devoted to jobs, allow me to tweak the results and offer some insight on who’s shrinking and who’s expanding.
The largest employers among the companies that participated in our survey (ranked by Oregon jobs) area: Avamere Health Systems, Jeld-Wen, Bimart, Roseburg Forest Products, Les Schwab, Harry & David, Shari’s, Swanson Group, R.B. Pamplin Corp and A-dec. Not one of those businesses added jobs in 2008. Jeld-Wen, formerly Oregon’s largest privately held employer, shaved 500 jobs, Ron Tonkin chopped 214. Les Schwab cut 206. Roseburg Forest Products eliminated 200. Leatherman Tool Group knifed 117. I’m running out of verbs here, so enough is enough.
More surprising were the expansions. Willamette Dental grew by 127 employees, the Dussin Group added 100 people and the Portland Clinic gained 42 jobs. Others daring to invest in new talent were Jubitz (27), the Walter E. Nelson Company (22), R2C Group (20), Powell’s Books and Tripwire (13 each), Pacific Office Automation (12) and Allegro Media Group (10).
Yes, it’s a sad year when hiring 10 people vaults a business into the upper echelon of an entire state’s private sector. On the other hand, 10 new jobs in 2008? In Gresham? In the supposedly dead music industry? Are you kidding me? Allegro must be doing something right.
Which is not to say that the big boys are doing things wrong. All the acumen in the world can’t change the price of lumber or revive moribund markets for new homes and cars. And that’s the problem. Scroll down the list of Oregon’s top businesses and you’ll find it is still dominated by timber, heavy manufacturing, home building and auto dealerships. None of these sectors is expected to bounce back soon. The old guard has never looked more vulnerable.
Who will step up to fill the void?