Estacada firm employs 90 people and brings money into the local economy

by: NEWS PHOTO: SCOTT JORGENSEN - Northwest Technologies Inc. CEO Eric Sale watches as a crew lays the groundwork for the expansion of its Estacada facility.A lot has happened in the world since Eric Sale established Northwest Technologies Inc. in Estacada in 2000. In that time, the business has survived a dot-com crash, the recession following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in Washington, D.C., and New York City, and the economic meltdown of 2008.

But unlike many firms that have started over the past couple of decades, Northwest Technologies not only has survived, it is thriving and plans to expand over the next few years.

Sale first started the company in a 7,000-square-foot facility on Tulip Street with two employees, an abundance of faith and his wife Doreen, whom he refers to as the “glue that keeps things going.”

“We had a lot of bills and a lot of commitment,” Sale said. “Now, it’s clearly bigger than I ever intended it to be.”

The company, which specializes in laser cutting, fabricating, forming, rolling, shearing, welding and machining, now employs 90 people. Projects assembled at its facilities range from artwork to industrial parts and everything in between.

Northwest Technologies moved to its current Park Street location seven years ago, added a machining building the following year and later acquired a facility next door. A year and a half ago, it started leasing another building and also occupies a 50,000-square-foot structure in Clackamas.

“We’ve been very blessed,” Sale said.

Sale’s entry into the industrial world began when he was a student at Reynolds High School near Troutdale. His interest in metal shop classes led to 10-year stint at a local shop. While holding down that job, Sale attended night school at Warner Pacific College in Southeast Portland to earn a business degree.

“It’s a good line of work,” Sale said. “I enjoy it. It’s always intrigued me.”

A very devout man, Sale prays every day and asks for divine guidance in his personal and professional dealings. The company’s core values are listed on a poster in his office, and include family happiness, excellence, respect, integrity and stewardship.

by: NEWS PHOTO: SCOTT JORGENSEN - Sale supervises one of the companys 90 employees during a recent workday.That overall philosophy involves treating customers like partners and using a service-oriented business model with an emphasis on seeking solutions and going the extra mile to deliver huge projects to anyone around the globe.

“For us, it’s all about people,” Sale said.

Northwest Technologies is a traded sector business, meaning that it brings money to the local economy from other areas. Most of its business is from firms in the Pacific Northwest, but the company also has customers from other parts of the United States.

“I don’t see our market as being limited,” Sale said.

Sale said that a big part of Northwest Technologies’ success stems from the people who work there.

“Our employees are our biggest assets,” he said. “Our company is growing because our people are growing.”

As a modern industrial outfit, much of the highly technical work at Northwest Technologies is controlled by computers and done by machines.

“This isn’t your basic manufacturing facility anymore,” Sale said.

But Sale said he never loses sight of the people operating the controls, and puts a big premium on workplace safety. Also important is the overall health and well-being of the employees. The company offers weekly chaplain services and tries to promote from within whenever possible, Sale said.

“I want to see people be able to reach their full potential,” he said. “This is their company. This is their future.”

Sale said he plans to add 5,000 square feet to the business’ main building this year, with similar expansions planned for other company-owned property. The city of Estacada has been a willing partner, as the council late last year voted to raise the building height restrictions on industrial buildings. Sale confirms that the ordinance change was done at the company’s request.

Even with all of his success and with future expansions on the horizon, Sale maintains a grounded perspective. He said he has learned “invaluable lessons” from the ups and downs of various business cycles over the years.

Most importantly, though, Sale wakes up every morning eager to arrive at the office and interact with his employees.

“I love to come to work with them every day,” he said.

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