Rock to Road

Products & Equipment Company Profiles
Columbia Steel Casting celebrates 120 years


May 26, 2021
By Rock to Road Staff

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As Columbia Steel Casting celebrates its 120th anniversary, company president and CEO, Martha Cox, reflects on the challenges Columbia Steel Casting has faced and successfully overcome by the three generations of family leadership since its establishment in 1901, and looks ahead at how the company will continue to persevere through resulted changes from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reflecting on its history

As the first steel foundry west of the Mississippi River, Columbia Steel Casting, originally founded as Columbia Engineering Works, supplied machinery parts for mining and lumber operations throughout the Pacific Northwest and California.

During the time of the Great Depression, while Columbia Steel sought to find its niche, the company’s old plant faced a devastating fire that nearly destroyed the infrastructure. Continuing to look forward however, the family found a new foundry location with new products and processes, which they developed during the 1960s and ‘70s. This allowed for Columbia Steel to make inroads and in the global mining industry, setting the stage for worldwide growth into the twentieth century. Today, the Columbia Steel continues to manufacture steel wear parts for customers worldwide, from its headquarters in Portland, Ore.

“Fortunately, we’ve learned how to adapt and overcome obstacles throughout our history. A year ago, our team faced a new set of challenges as the COVID-19 pandemic hit,” said Martha Cox. “We had to quickly institute new sitewide health and safety protocols to meet the demand of being designated as critical infrastructure by the Department of Homeland Security.”

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Looking ahead to 2022 and beyond

Throughout much of its history, the company was led by three generations of the Bird family. As daughter of Bud Bird, who led Columbia Steel through its significant growth in the second half of the twentieth century, Martha Cox explained she feels incredible responsibility, leading a company with such a long history in Portland. “Our goal today is the same as it has always been, which is to maintain our status as the preferred supplier of replacement wear parts in the industries we serve by providing exceptional customer value and satisfaction through guaranteeing fit and performance.”

Today, Columbia Steel delivers high-quality wear parts for organizations in the mining, metal recycling and power industries.