Greenbrier, which has previously announced plans to halt production of railroad cars in northwest Portland and lay off 101 of them this year, said Tuesday’s deal will save 300 auto industry jobs. The new owners hope to significantly increase Gunderson’s workforce.
“The facility has plenty of room for additional manufacturing equipment,” said Marvin “Dee” Burch, co-founder of Oregon Green Manufacturing, a new company formed to purchase the Gunderson facility.
Burch is President of Advanced American Construction, a shipbuilding company also based in northwest Portland. He co-founded Oregon Green Manufacturing with Terry Aarnio, which owned Oregon Iron Works until it was sold to Vigor Industrial in a 2014 transaction. The workers at the Gunderson plant are non-union.
Gunderson was born into a steel company founded by two brothers in Portland in 1919.It has been building ships since 1941, operating on the Front Avenue site beginning in 1947. Greenbrier acquired the company in 1985.
The 58-acre site on Front Avenue will retain the Gunderson Marine name, Burch said, with Oregon Green Manufacturing serving as its parent company.
The Gunderson property once had 1,800 people working along the Willamette River, according to Burch. He said he and Aarnio will use their experience in metal fabrication and marine construction to explore other opportunities for the property including electric tugboats, wind energy platforms, wave buoys, bridge girders and components for river dams.