In a blog called “Vigor gets bigger” last week, I wrote about the recently announced merger of Portland’s Vigor Industrial and Seattle’s Kvichak Marine Industries. In the blog, I recounted a chance encounter with Art Parker, Kvichak’s sales manager, at a Portland hotel during a PVA convention. As I was sitting in the lobby with my Vigor-logo laptop bag (a Propeller Club raffle prize), Art walked by (from the bar) and commented on Vigor’s ubiquity, although he didn’t use that word.

The next day, Kvichak sent me the photo you see here.

Kvichak’s Art Parker

Looking good, Art.

When we posted that blog in Tuesday’s e-newsletter, we also asked the question: Is the Vigor-Kvichak merger good for the marine industry? Yes or no. To my surprise, the “no” responses outnumbered the “yes” responses by two to one.

Personally, I think the merger is terrific. Vigor wants a good balance between repair and new construction, and Kvichak will certainly help keep the new products rolling. And having all of Vigor’s facilities and finances at its back will help the Kvichak side continue to grow. It’s certainly a win-win for all the parties now inside the Vigor tent.

 The bigger Vigor also reinforces the Pacific Northwest as one of the maritime centers of the world. The company’s scale will help it compete regionally, national and internationally. Its success will also be good business for engine dealers, marine electronics firms and all the other industrial marine support businesses in Washington and Oregon.

Vigor’s growth is also good for Alaska. Manufacturing has always been a dream for Alaskans who chafe at being relegated to suppliers of raw resources, from fish to forest products. Now, with Vigor’s active support, Ketchikan’s shipyard is proving to be quite capable of advanced marine construction and its younger-than-average workers are getting lots of training and opportunities for advancement.

Yes, Vigor will continue to be a strong competition for the other yards and builders in the region, but Dakota Creek, All American Marine, Diversified Marine, Gunderson Marine and other Pacific Northwest facilities with well-known products and outstanding reputations should certainly continue to hold their own. There’s room for all to grow and prosper.

Ultimately, Vigor owner Frank Foti isn’t a destroyer, he’s a builder. He’s not out to crush the competition, he’s looking to create an enterprise that will capitalize on the region’s rich maritime heritage and contribute even more to its legacy.

For those who disagree or voted “no” in last week’s poll, you’re invited to state your case in the comments below.

With a degree in English literature from the University of Washington (Go Dawgs!), journalism experience at the once-upon-a-time Seattle P-I, and at-sea experience as a commercial fisherman in Washington and Alaska, Bruce Buls has forged a career in commercial marine trade journalism, including stints at Alaska Fishermen’s Journal and National Fisherman, WorkBoat’s sister publications. Bruce spent 16 years as WorkBoat's technical editor before retiring in May 2015. He lives on Puget Sound’s Whidbey Island, about 20 miles north of Seattle (go 'Hawks!).