Serious business: Wickum Weld fuses passion and quality
Jarrod Wickum and Eric Fivecoats joke a lot. Two of the owners of Wickum Weld, these local guys have known each other since childhood and have a lot of fun together. But when you start talking tool boxes and cab racks, they’re all business and passion.
“We want to be the most competitive guys out there with the best product and the best customer service,” says Fivecoats.
Wickum Weld manufactures custom and off-the-shelf aluminum truck cab racks, tool boxes and beds – all with an eye on “the three-legged stool of customer service, quality and innovation,” said Fivecoats. Aluminum parts are extruded by Sapa, another port tenant, welded on-site by skilled tradesmen – including one of the company’s founders, Eric Herr – and fitted to customer or vehicle specifications.
The company is currently working on custom projects for Bonneville Power Administration, the Oregon Department of Transportation and Prairie Electric. They sell their off-the-shelf accessories through several local distributors; you can spot their products by the distinctive oval shapes worked into different parts of the design.
Wickum Weld is a true home-grown small business, started by Wickum in his garage in 2012. With the help of a third partner, Kerry Schulz, who has a small-business background, Wickum moved his operation to a Salmon Creek industrial park in 2013.
“We went to look at this space, and I was looking around, wondering if I could afford (the lease),” Wickum said. At Schulz’s urging, he made the leap. “And the business came,” Wickum said. “Pretty soon we’re blowing out walls” with tremendous growth.
Fivecoats joined the operation in March 2015, and in April the company was incorporated as Wickum Weld. That’s when some serious growth kicked in.
The company grew 245 percent from 2016 to 2017 and was bursting at the seams, even though they’d already expanded to space across the street. And though the expansion gave them some breathing space, it cut into their efficiencies. They were shuttling parts back and forth between sites and having a tough time tracking inventory. So the company was on the lookout for more space to support their vision for efficiency, innovation and long-term growth.
Coming to the port
Wickum, Fivecoats and Schulz recently moved into warehouse and office space at 2100A Kotobuki Way in the Port of Vancouver USA’s industrial area. They had looked all around Southwest Washington and then visited a few different properties with the port’s sales team.
“As soon as we saw (2100A), we knew this was it,” said Wickum. The facility includes 12,000 square feet of warehouse space, 1,452 square feet of office space and two roll-up doors that accommodate large delivery trucks. The property also includes gated yard space and room for future expansion.
The Port of Vancouver team was instrumental in providing tenant improvements and lease terms that helped Wickum continue to operate and have a seamless transition to its new space on Kotobuki Way.
Wickum, Fivecoats and Schulz look forward to continuing to work with the port as they expand their business. “We think it’s great that the port takes an interest in its tenants,” said Fivecoats. “It feels like a partnership, like they really value small businesses and want to help them grow.”
“We have a vision for 100 people,” said Wickum. Fivecoats nods: “It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.”