Gunderson Marine Pays Welding Students

COURTESY GUNDERSON MARINE

Gunderson Marine in Portland, Oregon, announced the opening of its training center for welders and metal fabricators.

Gunderson Marine of Portland, Oregon, recently side-launched Makani Loa, a 438 x 105 (133.5m x 32m) container barge for Lynden/Alaska Marine Lines from its 58-acre (32.5-hectare) manufacturing site in the industrial area north of downtown Portland, on the western shore of the Willamette River.

It also announced the opening of a training center in spring of 2024 to address the demand for skilled tradespeople and to train students in metal fitting, fabrication, safety practices, and welding processes, including flux-cored arc, submerged arc, and shield metal arc. Trainees are offered $19.95/hr during an eight-week course. Qualified graduates can work full time at Gunderson, starting as welders or pipe­fitters and later becoming supervisors or managers. To learn more about the program and employment benefits, visit www.giwx.net/training-center.

Formerly part of the Greenbrier Companies (a maker of rail cars), Gunderson was sold in 2023 to Marvin Burch and Terry Aarnio, two Portland industrialists, in a bid to save 300 manufacturing jobs after Greenbrier halted rail-car manufacturing in Portland. Burch is president of Advanced American Construction, a marine business, and Aarnio owned Oregon Iron Works before selling to Vigor Industrial. “With 1 million square feet of shop space, we have room for other fabrication,” Burch told me. “In four months we signed contracts worth [about] $170 million,” he added. Clients include the U.S. Navy and the Army Corps of Engineers. Gunderson will also build a big barge to be delivered to an international research facility in Antarctica in the summer of 2025. To keep up with work orders, Burch seeks to add 200 workers to the current staff of 300.

“We want to promote the value of manual labor, and people are open to it,” he said, noting that many college graduates struggle to repay student loans when working entry-level jobs that lack opportunities for advancement. To help graduates and career changers consider jobs in metalwork, Burch’s other company, Advanced American Construction, has paid more than $1 million in scholarships to civil and mechanical engineering students at local universities and community colleges. “Ten years from now we will be in deep trouble if we can’t interest people in what we’re doing,” he concluded.

Gunderson Ironworks, 4350 NW Front Ave., Portland, OR 97210 USA , tel. 503–972–5700.

—D.L.