Beer is Big Business for Vancouver Metals Company
This morning I had the opportunity to tour the Marks Design and Metalworks
fabrication plant in Vancouver. When I drove up I was surprised to see such a large building, and to
see such a crowded parking lot! The company makes fermentation tanks for the craft brew industry. The company is only 2 years old and has grown from 2 employees to 45. A year ago it moved into a 26,000 square foot warehouse in Minnehaha and recently acquired the warehouse across the street. The picture on the left was taken from inside the warehouse. Manufacturing goes 7 days a week and lead time for a tank is February.
Marks Design has 50 brewery clients, most in the Pacific Northwest, but one client is a brewery in New York City. Fermentation tanks range in size from 5 barrels (a barrel is a
keg) to 1500 barrels and Marks makes all sizes. The picture to the right is of a nearly finished fermentation tank.
Marks prides itself in using American made products. The fermentation tanks are made with stainless steel, all of which is made in America. Melinda Reis, company Vice President, tells me their prices are competitive with other American manufacturing companies, but they can't compete with Chinese companies. She says a Chinese made fermentation tank is 1/3 of the price of an American made tank.
Marks Design has formed quite the relationship with local craft brewers. They are sponsors of this year's North American Organic Brewers Festival
in North Portland. They also host an open house at the warehouse every year, where they serve beer from their custom made kegerator.
Owner Ryan Marks says tells me he works hard to make the business successful. He once worked 80 days in a row and he's always looking for new employees. He likes to hire military vets and will train someone if necessary. He says welding is a dying trade, but they need all the welders they can get.
A big thanks to Melinda and Ryan for letting me tour the factory. It was such an interesting experience and I learned a lot about the brewing process. The factory is open to tours for the public. --Lacey Evans