Case Studies

PSF Industries Inc.

A rich history of steel design, fabrication, construction and maintenance in Seattle

Celebrating its 115-year anniversary in 2015, PSF Industries Inc. is a one-stop shop for industrial engineering and fabrication. Headquartered in Seattle, Washington, the company is a union contractor and specializes in the fabrication, erection and maintenance.

Established in 1900, the founders of PSF recognized the potential business opportunity of miners headed to Alaska during the Klondike Gold Rush. With the purchase of Seattle Manufacturing, the company was able to support the miners’ needs for heat and stoves. This was the beginning of the strategic diversification that would ultimately contribute to the growth and success of PSF. From 1900 to 1917 the company would continue to acquire businesses to add to and enhance the company’s services.

With the start of World War I, PSF shifted its focus to the industrial field. The company began to perform steel fabrication such as structural steel and plate work, which would lead to the manufacturing of life boats and rafts as well as various components including ventilation and duct equipment for ships.

PSF Industries Inc.

When World War II began PSF once again elevated its efforts to support the war. The company was divided into two divisions to serve the shipbuilding and aircraft industries. The ship building plant fabricated items from steel plate, alloys and exotic metals up to 3 inches thick supplying intakes, smokestacks, cowls, hot water tanks and hatch covers. The aircraft parts plant fabricated components from sheet metal for B-17 and B-29 bombers in the form of fuselage section, wings and bulk heads as well as other aircraft parts.

Today the company performs custom fabrication and erection of pressure vessels, heat exchangers, stacks, spheres, digesters, tanks and economizers. The company also erects heat recovery steam generators, boilers and performs turnarounds and shutdowns as well as maintenance work. The multiservice aspect of PSF has helped the company develop into one of the oldest and largest custom steel plate fabricators and erectors of its kind.

Solid leadership

Jeff Brown, CEO and owner of PSF, has been with the company for 28 years. After he graduated from Washington State University in 1986 with an engineering degree, Brown went to work for WSDOT. After being dissatisfied with his initial position, he interviewed with PSF and has been with the company ever since. “I began in the engineering department but quickly moved into the construction division,” recounts Brown. “I worked my way up into construction management and then when the owner – who was my father-in-law – retired, I transitioned into the ownership role in 2010.”

In his 28 years with the company, Brown says that it’s the employees of the company that motivate him every day. “This job can be frustrating and stressful at times but ultimately we have a good time doing what we do,” says Brown. “The work is challenging but we all operate very close. It’s a family-oriented company and we create a family atmosphere.”

Lucrative opportunities

As a company that has been in existence for 115 years, the company has had many employees create long lucrative careers with PSF. “When I first started in management it was tough because I was supervising people who had been here for 30-plus years,” says Brown. “It creates a challenge when you have to tell people who have more experience than you what to do.”

In the past few years the management of the company has turned over due to the retirement of supervisors. Brown says that this has created an opportunity for PSF to bring in new young talent. “Our management is the youngest it’s ever been in the 28 years that I’ve been with the company,” says Brown.

PSF has modified its recruiting methods as the market for younger qualified workers in the engineering and construction industries has dwindled. To combat this, PSF has started working with local trade schools and universities to incorporate internship programs in order for students to gain on-the-job experience. Students who are involved in these programs are able to witness firsthand the rewarding careers that they are able to build in the construction engineering field.

The internship program proved to be a win-win situation for the company’s current construction manager. “We recruited our CM out of college,” says Brown. “He interned with us for two summers and got to know the company very well. When he graduated he was very interested in coming to work for PSF full-time. He was an assistant manager for a few years and then we recently promoted him to construction manager and he’s only 26 years old.” The previous construction manager had been with company for 38 years.

PSF will continue to build upon its rich history while capitalizing on shifting energy markets. “We expect the gas-fired energy market to increase and we have been a big part of that industry in the past,” says Brown. “We believe that market will take off in the next couple of years so we plan on being heavily involved in that.”

With its diversity and a strong portfolio, PSF Industries Inc. will honor its history by continuing to be a leader in steel design, fabrication, construction and maintenance. 

Published on: November 3, 2015

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