Headquarters – A Portland city official said the company’s reasons were an expired lease and shorter commutes

Wednesday, January 09, 2008RICHARD READ

The Oregonian Staff

Northwest Pipe Co.’s plan to move its corporate headquarters from downtown Portland to Vancouver is “a minor disappointment,” a Portland Development Commission official said Tuesday.

Erin Flynn, PDC economic development director, was reacting to news that the manufacturer of large steel pipes would move about 50 employees across the Columbia River in March. The publicly traded company is the ninth largest by stock value in Oregon or southwest Washington.

“Portland is losing Northwest Pipe,” Flynn said. However, “The region is not losing Northwest Pipe, either as a headquarters or as a manufacturer.”

The company, based since 2000 at 200 S.W. Market St., is moving to the Tidewater Cove building at 5701 S.E. Columbia Way in Vancouver, The Columbian newspaper reported Tuesday. The Nasdaq-traded company, founded in the Portland area in 1966, has been at several sites in the metro area.

Company executives told PDC their lease was up and workers’ average commute times would be shorter. They did not express frustration with Portland’s business climate, Flynn said.

Corporate relocations became an especially sensitive topic in 2001, when Columbia Sportswear Co. moved its headquarters from Portland to unincorporated Washington County. Tim Boyle, Columbia’s chief executive officer, subsequently criticized Portland as an unfriendly place to do business.

Northwest Pipe, with $347 million sales in 2006, employs more than 1,200 at 10 sites in North America. Its shares closed down 2 cents Tuesday at $36.12.

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