Gunderson: Riding high at 100

Gunderson: Riding high at 100

From railcars to ocean barges, Gunderson is ready to take on another century in manufacturing.

During a typical day at Gunderson's riverfront manufacturing facility in Northwest Portland, sparks fly as workers in the company's marine division weld together panels on the bow of an ocean-going barge.

A cloud of steam rises from a machine clearing a wax coating off wheels destined to become part of the railcars that make up a significant portion of the company's work.

An overhead crane whirs as it transports a piece of steel from a pile to a nearby assembly area. Add in the clanks and bangs of machinery and metal and the result is a symphony that the company has been composing for the past 100 years.

These days, Gunderson operates as a division of Greenbrier Companies. From its location on Northwest Front Avenue, the company focuses on two main areas of manufacturing.

Its rail car division turns out both box cars and a double-stack design. The latter has been an especially strong product for Gunderson and its parent company.

"We've got a 60 percent market share in that car type," Mark Eitzen, Gunderson's general manager, said.

Meanwhile, the marine division is flourishing, with the company preparing to start work in a few months on the largest articulated tug barge it has ever tackled.