Prineville-based SherpTek receives Excellence in Economic Development Award

SherpTek is the first automotive outdoor industry company in Prineville and the company worked hand-in-hand with Economic Development for Central Oregon (EDCO) to effectively facilitate their 150-mile relocation to the Crook County community. After 13 trips over a mountain pass in the dead of winter to transport gear, they took occupancy and became operational in early Q2 of 2022. The project received the Oregon Economic Development Association’s Excellence in Economic Development: Business Development Success Story Award.

SherpTek was founded in the spirit of adventure, quality design and a love for life and the outdoors.  When searching for a new SherpTek HQ, the company placed an emphasis on the ability of their staff, founders and customers to have easy access to a plethora of outdoor adventures.  Prineville met that need by offering proximity  to several outdoor activities in the nearby high desert, including the Barnes Butte trail system, campgrounds along the Crooked River and Prineville Reservoir, Smith Rock State Park, and the Ochoco National Forest. In addition to offering access to outdoor activities, Prineville also offered affordable industrial space, expedited permitting, a regional hub of composite companies, a skilled manufacturing labor pool, as well as local incentives.

SherpTek was among the first tenants to take occupancy in the redeveloped Woodgrain mill site – rebranded the “Prineville Campus” – which had been closed and inoperable for years after previously being one of the top employers and sole industries in Prineville for decades. A group of developers from Las Vegas purchased the 56-acre property, demolished the dilapidated buildings on the site, and have since began upgrading the ~200,000sf of existing building space to usable spec industrial space since the purchase, with additional building pads for new development.

The SherpTek team includes dedicated designers, engineers and professionals who work hard and play hard. They employ a small and growing team of motivated people who make flatbeds, truck decks and an endless number of accessories to improve the adaptability of various pickup trucks for outdoor adventures. By utilizing composite aerospace materials, their products are lightweight and still strong enough to haul a 5,000-pound camper across rough terrain. The modular system integrated into their products facilitates the quick and easy addition of interchangeable accessories and utilizes often-lost storage space along the side of the truck bed when a camper is in place.

The entire Central Oregon region is an outdoor mecca for visitors and residents, which has brought a cluster of outdoor products companies to the area, which has benefited from the broadening of industries that call the area home, including high technology, advanced manufacturing, building products, bioscience, brewing, general aviation, renewable energy, and more.

SherpTek was one of Prineville’s first companies to pitch at EDCO’s Central Oregon PubTalk, hosted each month at Silver Moon Brewing. Since moving their operation to Prineville in the first half of 2022, SherpTek has ingrained itself into the entrepreneurial fabric of the region. While new to the area, they are already expanding into new space, hiring additional employees and training high school students on their specialized processes and products.  SherpTek is also purchasing new equipment a newly acquired building located adjacent to their current operations, which will help them vertically integrate many of their processes and slash production times from approximately 6-to-8 weeks to 6-to-8 days.

This project has been and continues to be supported by many local and State partners, including EDCO, City of Prineville, Crook County, Business Oregon, COIC/Worksource, OMEP, SBDC, SCORE, as well as financial and supply chain partners.  Support services that have been provided include, but are not limited to: business financing, site selection, permitting assistance, Enterprise Zone approval, CIP utilization, internship coordination, staffing, pitch coaching, venture funding opportunities/structure, network connections, and scaling assistance.

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