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Tualatin company sells equipment to Cameroon

PHOTO FOR THE TIMES: ADAM WICKHAM - Philippe Camille Akoa (left), Director General of FEICOM, Patrice Ndongo-Seh, Principal of Global Vision LLC (center) and Richard Allen, president of CEC (right) look at a working scale-model of a 'jaw crusher'.

A Tualatin equipment company is helping a West African nation along its path to developing the 21st-century infrastructure it needs to improve living conditions for its citizens.

Building equipment purchased from Construction Equipment Co. in Tualatin will be used to pave roads, improve water systems and build concrete housing in the Republic of Cameroon, a country of 22 million located south of Nigeria on the West Coast of Africa.

A delegation from Cameroon’s governmental and civic sectors toured Construction Equipment Co.’s headquarters in Tualatin last week.

During their visit, members of the delegation went over the logistics and machinery of the equipment they were set to purchase. The government of Cameroon will be purchasing five portable crushing and screening plants from Construction Equipment Co. The deal is valued in excess of $3 million.

The group toured the facility’s parts storage department and viewed a miniature, working replica of the jaw crushers that will be designed and built in Tualatin over the next two years.

The purchase is part of a larger, 10-year project spearheaded by the government of Cameroon aimed at improving infrastructure and, in turn, building a sustainable middle class.

Cameroon’s government created a public administrative entity called the Special Fund for Equipment and Intermunicipal Intervention, or FEICOM, to handle the project’s operations.

The project is expected to create 500 jobs in Cameroon.

“This will have an enormous impact on poverty, public health and education,” said Christopher Ekom, a trade specialist who works with the U.S. Embassy in Cameroon.

With the help of a translator in the group, the French-speaking delegation exchanged questions with Construction Equipment Co. representatives and civic leaders from the state, Yamhill and Washington counties, Tualatin, and from Sheridan, where the company houses its production facility.

PHOTO FOR THE TIMES: ADAM WICKHAM - Christopher Ekom, trade specialist with the U.S. Embassy in Cameroon, addresses the group.

“This will increase the economic and social opportunities for locals,” said Francois Soman, mayor of Pouma, a town in Cameroon with a population of 20,000.

None of the roads in Pouma, which sits in an agricultural area, are paved. That makes it difficult for farmers to transport their crops to market, in turn stifling the region’s economic potential.

The jaw crushers could also be used to process building material for affordable housing all over Cameroon, said Soman. Right now, municipalities have to pay for gravel, which is fairly expensive, to build cement housing.

Once they are shipped to Cameroon, the crushers will be installed at five job sites across the country.

Rocks excavated from quarries will be shipped to Construction Equipment Co. for sample testing before they are processed in Cameroon.

Soman, who also serves as vice president of Cameroon’s Association of Mayors, said the project would improve public works in all 375 towns across the country.

“All of them have expressed that they are very excited,” he said.

As the project unfolds over the next two years, Cameroon’s business will lead to the addition of more staff and provide job security for the existing 70 employees at Construction Equipment Co.

The government of Cameroon is securing a loan for the purchase through the United States Export-Import Bank, which subsidizes low-interest loans to finance the export of American goods and services to countries that otherwise would not be able to afford it.

But for its part, Construction Equipment Co. is selling the equipment to Hoffman International, its export broker, for the same price charged to any United States client.

This is the second time the company has sold equipment to Cameroon through Hoffman International. In 2013, the company sold three portable crushing plants which have been used to support Cameroon’s infrastructure expansion.

Richard Allen, owner of Construction Equipment Co., is thrilled with the pending transaction.

“I think it’s a fantastic deal,” said Allen. “Not only does it keep Oregonians employed, but it’s job creation halfway around the world. It’s exciting to be a part of something that benefits people there.”