Oregon Aero Flies High in Columbia County

A growing number of contracts with the U.S. military, as well as the development of new products for the medical sector, helped propel Scappoose-based Oregon Aero, Inc., to employ 75 Oregonians.

The company, founded in 1989, manufactures products designed to prevent and eliminate pain, improve impact protection and reduce noise for the aviation industry, law enforcement and the military. Business Oregon and its Infrastructure Finance authority have both partnered with Oregon Aero to help spur the company's growth.

A Business Oregon forgivable loan of $250,000 from the Governor's Strategic Reserve Fund in August 2010 helped the company expand to manufacture a new product designed to prevent pressure sores in hospital patients at its Salem facility. That project is projected to create seven new jobs.

Thanks to a $1.3 million loan from the Infrastructure Finance Authority's (IFA) Special Public Works Fund and $355,000 from the Port of St. Helens, in early 2012, the company consolidated its Columbia County operations in a new 22,000-square-foot building at the Scappoose Industrial Park. Besides increasing employee efficiency, the new building and its larger hangar will allow Oregon Aero to work on bigger aircraft, including large jets and twin-engine planes and consolidate its operations in Scappoose.

Company officials told Oregon Business Magazine in 2012 that the military's peak orders of 50,000 to 60,000 ballistic helmet cushioning upgrade kits helped boost revenue from $6.9 million in 2002 to $28.5 million in 2004. That revenue growth meant that Oregon Aero needed to expand, and fast. As a result, the company grew into several different buildings throughout the decade: two at the Scappoose Industrial Airpark, two in St. Helens and one in Salem.