Port purchase adds to industrial space

Washougal facility will have ‘good return on investment,’ Port director says

The Port of Camas-Washougal has reached an agreement to purchase another building for its industrial park.

At a July 25 meeting, Port commissioners approved a motion to allow the Port to buy a 27,000-square-foot Washougal facility from four business partners for $1.8 million.

“It financially benefits the Port,” The Port’s chief executive officer, David Ripp, said about the purchase. “(The building is) a great asset. It will give us a good return on our investment. It allows us a little bit more time to (figure out) what we want to see out in Steigerwald (Commerce Center). I think it helps us in the diversification of where our properties are located at.”

The building, located at 740 S. 28th St. in Washougal, is being leased by Wolseley Industrial Group, the industrial division of Ferguson Enterprises, a wholesale supplier of commercial and residential plumbing supplies.

Wolseley is one of the largest industrial distributors in North America, according to its website. Its main markets include floats for marina ramps and docks and pressurized propane gas lines, Ripp said.

“We just completed building 18 (last year). This is building 19,” commissioner Larry Keister said. “It’s already built and already has a tenant in it. I couldn’t see anything going wrong with that.”

Jim Vail and Dave Schlegel, two of the owners of the building, approached the Port in February about a possible transaction.

“I think they’re at the age that they’re starting to think about retirement more, and not wanting to maintain that ownership asset and worry about it anymore,” Ripp said. “They approached the Port knowing we would maintain it and keep using it.”

Ripp said that his familiarity and compatibility with the building’s owners made negotiations “real simple.”

“The way I approach business, I want to be treated the way I would treat somebody, and (Vail is) from the same philosophy,” Ripp said. “I really believe Jim is a man of his word. I’ve dealt with Dave Schlegel for years because we had some other separate minor leases with Ferguson; they rented some small chunks of property for parking from us. They’re great guys, all of them.”

Wolseley Industrial Group’s current lease runs for two more years and includes two additional three-year options.

“They’ve been around a long time,” Ripp said, “and I’m hoping they’ll remain a tenant for a number of years.”

Ripp told the commissioners that the $1.8 million purchase price is “very much below the appraised value that we had completed.”

“My first question might be, ‘Why would you spend $1.8 million on a building that’s already there? How are you fulfilling your mission as a port?’ The answer in this case is that it’s a really good deal, basically,” commissioner John Spencer said. “For that $1.8 million, we’re going to get return on the investment, which we can then roll back around and fulfill our mission.”

The Port also filled its available 6,600 square feet of space in Building 18 as the commissioners approved a motion to allow the Port to enter into an agreement with Printforia, a start-up business that specializes in apparel printing.

“It’s very highly technical,” Ripp said about Printforia. “It’s a way to print screen T-shirts. There’s a technical side as well as a manufacturing side. They’re talking about starting off with five jobs, and at the end of the year they’ll have 10. It’s diversifying our base out there, which is good.”

The two-year lease includes two additional one-year options and is set to begin Aug. 1.

The space became available when tenant TheraSigma, an electrode manufacturing company, decided to downsize.

“About two months ago, the president of the company got very ill and almost passed away. The son was taking on more of the business, and he said, ‘I think my dad over-leased,'” Ripp said. “We thought so too, and so he requested to reduce the size of his space in half, and we felt comfortable doing that with the inquiries we were getting for that space. Two months later we had it leased.”

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