Zidell Companies

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Zidell Companies
Industry Manufacturing and shipbuilding
Founded Portland, Oregon, 1916
Founder Sam Zidell
Headquarters Portland, Oregon, United States
Area served
Products Barges, steel tube fittings
Owner Zidell family
Number of employees
Subsidiaries Zidell Marine, Tube Forgings of America

The Zidell Companies are a group of family-owned companies based in Portland, Oregon. They include Zidell Marine, a ship construction company which specializes in the building of barges, and Tube Forgings of America Inc.

In the post-World War II era, Zidell became the largest shipbreaking operation in the United States.


Zidell shipbreaking yard in September, 1972. The ship being broken up is the heavy cruiser USS Baltimore (CA-68)

Zidell traces its origins back to 1915, when Sam Zidell migrated to the United States and began selling secondhand machinery in Roseburg, Oregon. The following year he moved to Portland, and set up the Zidell Machinery and Supply Company, selling equipment and supplies to the region's expanding industrial base.

Shortly after the end of World War II, in 1946, Sam Zidell's son Emery, who now headed the business, purchased the shipyard of Commercial Iron Works in Portland and turned it into a shipbreaking yard, called the Zidell Ship Dismantling Company. With scrap steel in high demand for rebuilding America's industrial base in the postwar period, business boomed and by the 1960s the company, now known as Zidell Explorations, Inc., had become America's largest shipbreaker. In the course of its thirty years of shipbreaking operations, Zidell dismantled a total of 336 ships, including many World War II-era Liberty ships and naval auxiliaries, and some warships.

USS Kermit Roosevelt, a WWII-era naval auxiliary scrapped by Zidell

From 1948, Zidell also began to recover industrial valves from its shipbreaking operations and resell them, a business that was eventually spun off into the Zidell Valve Corporation. Zidell Valves was sold in 1997 to Pon Holdings of the Netherlands. In 1955, Emery Zidell also founded Tube Forgings of America, Inc. (TFA), which supplies welding fittings for a wide variety of applications. TFA was the first US manufacturer of carbon steel welding fittings to earn an ISO-90002 certification and is one of the world's largest manufacturers of such fittings today.[1]

In 1960, Emery Zidell established the Zidell Marine Corporation, which used steel recovered from Zidell's shipbreaking business to build new barges. Demand soon outstripped the supply of recycled steel however, so Zidell began building barges from new steel. Since 1961, the company has built over 300 barges, most of which are still in use.

Today, Zidell Marine and Tube Forgings of America remain family-run businesses, headed by Emery's son Jay. The companies currently employ some 200 people in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States.


  1. ^ Zidell Companies press release, 30 October 2003.