Partners for Bouncing Back
Griffith Rubber Mills

In the heart of Portland’s NW Industrial area, Griffith Rubber Mills stands as a stronghold in the region’s manufacturing industry, as well as a testament to the enduring significance of rubber in our daily lives. Walking through the factory, one can feel the palpable tension between the storied past and the pull of the future. Jennifer Laney, President of Griffith Rubber Mills, encapsulates this dichotomy as she leads the company with a vision that bridges tradition and innovation.  

Currently a family and woman owned business, Griffith Rubber Mills began its journey as a roller and belt company, supplying the market with industrial rubber products since 1911. Today, they are focused on producing custom rubber products. The company continues to be a vital player in the rubber manufacturing industry. The factory’s machinery is a fascinating blend of analog giants—what Jennifer fondly refers to as “big playdough machines”—and cutting-edge, automated technology. This juxtaposition highlights the company’s commitment to preserving essential old-school techniques while embracing modern advancements. Jennifer acknowledges the challenge. “It is a challenge to honor our legacy but still be perceived as ready for business in 2024,” she says. The company’s ability to innovate without losing sight of its roots makes her the perfect steward of this legacy. 

Griffith’s resilience was particularly tested during the pandemic. “I thought the hardest I ever worked was 2009-2010 during the recession, but Covid really topped that.” Recognized as an “essential business,” Griffith’s HR and management team had to navigate unprecedented challenges to keep operations running smoothly. This included mandatory surveys, remote communication, and prevention measures, ensuring their continued success. “It was miserable for everyone, but we overcame it, and actually improved our relationships with our customers. We came out stronger” she reflects.  

Consider not allowing 10 bad parts per million as the standard for success. Despite their numerous awards for quality work, you won’t find them displayed on the walls of Griffith Rubber Mills. Jennifer believes in focusing on future goals rather than past achievements. “If you are too focused on what you’ve done, you won’t be focused on what you need to do.” This mindset is crucial in an industry where quality control standards are paramount. Supplying to major trucking, bus, rail, and defense companies means delivering near-perfect products consistently.  

The company’s culture is another source of pride for Jennifer, and for her that is a better place to celebrate their wins. Hiring the right people is critical, and Griffith Rubber Mills takes a holistic approach. They value well-rounded individuals with fulfilling lives outside of work, fostering a cooperative and positive work environment. “Our team is a very collaborative bunch, and we would all prefer to do extra rather than work with people that are not a good fit,” Jennifer states. This culture is why employees stay, some for over 40 years, across their four sites in Portland, Eugene, and Indiana. 

Griffith Rubber Mills’ relationship with Lewis & Clark Bank is a vital part of their recent success. During the pandemic, their long-time national bank failed to prioritize their needs for PPP resources. Frustrated with being bounced between representatives, being deprioritized because of their size, and having been a client since the 1960s, CFO Clay Trumbo turned to Lewis & Clark Bank, which processed their PPP request in just 48 hours. “Lewis & Clark Bank made it more about us than the size of our company,” Clay says. “The bank’s ongoing support and education on available programs and financing opportunities, such as the SBA, have been invaluable to Griffith Rubber Mills.” Jennifer added, “Griffith’s approach to finding the right bank is no different than finding the right employees. It is essential to our success.  Lewis & Clark Bank has proven to be a good fit.” 

As Griffith Rubber Mills continues to navigate the complexities of the modern manufacturing landscape, Jennifer Laney’s leadership ensures that the company remains anchored in its rich history while striving towards a dynamic future. The balance of old-school values and innovative practices positions Griffith Rubber Mills not just to survive, but to thrive in the years ahead.

“If you are too focused on what you’ve done, you won’t be focused on what you need to do.”
- Jennifer Laney, President