Zidell Marine has notified employees that it will cease building barges after construction on a current vessel is completed.
Portland, Ore.-based Zidell Marine is part of the Zidell family’s 33-acre property on the Willamette River. Redevelopment of the site, dubbed the Zidell Yards, has been underway for some time, but as recently as 2013 the company planned to continue building barges there for some time.
"The master plan is intended to prepare a future vision of our property in the area," Jay Zidell, the president of the Zidell Companies, told the Oregonian in 2013. "It's way off in the future."
Zidell informed its 60 barge workers on Wednesday that the future is now.
“Over the past years at similar [company] meetings I have, from time to time, been asked the question about how long we would continue to build barges at this location and I have consistently responded that as long as there were customers that wanted us to, we would continue to do so,” Jay Zidell said in an address to employees, a copy of which was provided to WorkBoat. “I have also been consistent that should that change, you would hear it from me first and not through some rumor mill. I now find that events beyond our control no longer allow me to provide the same response as it relates to ongoing construction and that, while we will continue on in the leasing business, hull 686 will be the last barge to be built here at ZMC.
“This has been a difficult decision for me, particularly recognizing the impacts on you, and one that has come upon us faster than I was expecting.”
Zidell is expected to wrap up construction on its final vessel in the second quarter of 2017, after which the shipyard will need to be cleaned up in preparation for redevelopment. Jay Zidell told employees from the barge unit that some would have jobs in that process, and that the company would immediately set up retention and transition programs for the affected workers.
"You have all been part of a terrific team, and one that I have the greatest respect and loyalty for," Zidell said. "It is through your efforts that we have been able to accomplish so much over the years."
Zidell also manages a fleet of barges for lease and charter, and that business will continue, Jay Zidell said.
The plan for Zidell Yards calls for three-to-five million sq. ft. of urban, mixed-use development, including a 118-unit apartment building, offices, and a park and greenway.