Entek keeps production up despite Oregon fires

Sept. 14, 2020

Extruder manufacturer Entek in Lebanon, Ore., for the past week has found itself between massive wildfires burning to its north and south but has maintained production with little interruption. Lebanon is about 80 miles south of Portland.

Entek has approximately 450 employees in Lebanon, manufacturing lead-acid battery separators and lithium-ion separators in addition to twin-screw extruders and providing engineering services. Its customers are worldwide.

Related: Prepare and practice an emergency plan to keep your employees safe in a natural disaster.

The fires are within 25 miles of the plant, said Lynsee Evans, office manager at Entek, on Monday. There has been smoke and ash in the air since Labor Day, when the fires broke out, and employees wear masks outside and inside buildings where smoke gets in through doors opening and closing frequently.

These fires are the closest to ever threaten the plant, according to Tammy Straw, marketing and business development manager. Ten people have died in Oregon fires that burned more than a million acres in the past week.

Rain was predicted for Monday night, potentially providing some relief.

A small number of employees have evacuated their homes, but none of those homes have been damaged thus far. Some employees have taken days off to make preparations for evacuations, Evans said.

There have been slowdowns in some of Entek’s supply chain channels. Suppliers located closer to the fires have been closed for the past week, Straw said.

“There is a fire in southern Oregon that has closed Interstate 5 down there,” she said, “But we are still getting products out.”

A shelter for evacuees and their livestock has been opened at the Linn County Fairgrounds in Albany, about 12 miles from the Entek plant. Several Entek employees have volunteered there.

Ron Shinn, editor

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About the Author

Ron Shinn | Editor

Editor Ron Shinn is a co-founder of Plastics Machinery & Manufacturing and has been covering the plastics industry for more than 35 years. He leads the editorial team, directs coverage and sets the editorial calendar. He also writes features, including the Talking Points column and On the Factory Floor, and covers recycling and sustainability for PMM and Plastics Recycling.