558 N. Main St., Prineville, OR 97754 | (541) 447-6205
ICP Northwest has been converting shipping containers into living quarters, and they’re confident their business will continue to grow in Crook County
A finished housing unit at ICP Northwest shows what the final product looks like after the wiring is installed, windows and doors are in place, and the paint is applied. All units begin with a rough metal cargo container, and include complete living quarters when finished.
November 01, 2012
The business that literally set up a site overnight in Prineville to create a large order of living quarters for a mining camp has completed their first order.
Integrated Communications Products (ICP) Northwest came to the community in September, and set up their work site on some light industrial land that was owned by Scott Porfily of SMAF Environmental. The City of Prineville made it smooth and easy for the company to get established.
“They packed up (from Culver) on Labor Day weekend and moved on Labor Day,” said Porfily.
The company originally had a contract to convert metal cargo shells into living quarters for a mining camp in Panama. The camp will be full-service, with everything the workers need to live. The 40-foot shipping containers are transformed into building units for the supervisory staff at the camp.
The completed units include a shared bathroom, chairs, beds, computer stations, and air conditioning units. ICP Northwest hired more than 100 workers from Central Oregon, including welders, electricians, and construction workers.
Dale Keller, business development manager for the City of Prineville Railway, was helpful in finding a steady source of material for the site. Although ICP Northwest didn’t end up shipping the containers out on rail, Keller was impressed with how the process went, and how aggressive Prineville was in getting them here quickly.
“This was a win-win for Prineville,” said Keller. “We can create the right situation, and let these people come in and do their thing. Crook County is learning and becoming more adept and more heads-up in terms of trying to create opportunities — because the bottom line is, with the few business opportunities that come to us regionally, everyone is competing. You have to be sharper, better, and quicker in order to put these things in.”
John Knotek, president of ICP Northwest said that they had such good success with the first phase that they are building various show units, including log-house-styles, oil and gas specific units, green-sustainable units, and tiny house units. He said they are working with agencies such as Grow Oregon, Oregon Economic Development, the local Economic Development of Central Oregon, the City of Prineville, and SMAF.
According to Knotek, these units will be utilized as models for RV parks, and they will begin to convert their worksite into a full-time facility to keep everyone employed.
“We have a little bit of a lull for a week or so, but as we get our plans done this next week on all of the other models that we are going to create, we will build our sales force up,” he said. “We already have contacts in Texas and North Dakota, and we will begin to punch out a lot of models in a lot of areas.”
He is optimistic that they will be successful in moving forward.
“It is a little slow today, but we just did 80 units in about 35-40 days,” he added. “From a piece of raw ground to that is an extreme success story.”
Knotek emphasized that they did a great deal of local impact and purchasing. They worked with Craig Woodward of Prineville Sawmill, Consolidated Pine, Ray’s Electric, and his crews spent a lot of money locally.
He said a small crew came back yesterday, and more will come back in a week as they finish up their plans and begin building their spec units. As soon as they can get some of the initial orders out, they will begin to bring in a full shift. Knotek indicated that they will begin with a day shift, and will only have a night shift when they have a high-production request or contract.
“We are going to try to bring as many people back as we can or keep them — nobody has been fired,” commented Knotek. “That is where we are right now.”
He emphasized that his business is committed to Prineville, and he is working with Porfily to keep the jobs at the site they are right now. He would like to purchase the land from Porfily and move his operation from Culver.
Knotek initially established a strong fire support business in Culver, which he has built up from clients around the Northwest.
“My goal here is really to keep these jobs going.”
Approximately 30 percent of his current work crew are veterans.
“That means a lot to me — being a vet — a disabled vet myself,” noted Knotek. “There were a lot of people that were living in their cars and things, and we got them work.
“I am 100 percent on board to get these people back to work as quickly as possible, and to keep them working — the ones who want to work. My goal is to make this a profitable business, but in turn, my first goal is keep everybody working that was working, and to make this a success for the community. If I make a couple of dollars at the end on this as it starts up — as any start-up business would be — that is great. If I have to invest quite a bit into it initially to keep everybody working, I am on board and committed to that for you all, to Prineville and all the employees. That is where I am at and that is who I am as a person, so there is a lot more than the just the bottom dollar on this.”
Upon sharing some stories of the employees who worked for him, he said, “There are great stories that make me work day and night to make this thing go to the next level.”