The manufacturing base in Grays Harbor County is dominated by lumber and wood processing plants.
In 1996, the lumber industry accounted for half of all manufacturing employment in the county. Today 9 of the top 15 industrial companies in the county are wood-product related and sustained-yield forestry, reforestation, lumber, plywood, and paper remain the county's industrial base.
Other significant industries include food and seafood processing and boat building.
Grays Harbor County first and second tier manufactures are centered on wood products.
- Cosmo Specialty Fibers, Inc. was created to restore, restart and operate the former Weyerhaeuser Specialty Cellulose Mill in Cosmopolis, WA. CSF has retained a number of former Weyerhaeuser employees and is at full production with 150 employees.
- Simpson Door Companyis a world-class manufacturer of custom and standard wood doors. Their door plant in McCleary employs approximately 234, producing high quality doors.
- Weyerhaeuser Company manages forestry lands in Grays Harbor and employs 95.
- Sierra Pacific Industries, a state-of-the-art dimensional lumber sawmill just east of Aberdeen, employs 194 workers.
- Mary's River Lumber is a dimensional cedar lumber mill with 130 employees. The Company is currently expanding at the East County Industrial Park.
- Murphy Company produces specialty veneer and trusses employing 50.
- PanelTech International manufactures green composite products such as Paper Stone as well as ballistics products that meet or exceed stringent military requirements.
- Over 80 other small to medium size companies that provide or process materials for the wood products industry.
Shipbuilding has been a tradition in Grays Harbor County since 1886 when tall-masted schooners were built along the banks of the county's rivers to ship lumber throughout the world. Today, Grays Harbor is a top producer of fiberglass hulled yachts and small craft.
- Westport Shipyard is a world recognized specialty manufacturer of luxury yachts. The company currently employs over 300 workers in Grays Harbor.
- Another manufacturer, Little Hoquiam Shipyard, also produces quality fiberglass craft.
Grays Harbor County companies are committed to adding value to the products that are harvested in the county.
- Seafood is processed, frozen or canned for market by Ocean Gold, Washington Crab Producers, Quinault Pride Seafood Products and Westport Seafood Exchange. Together these companies employ over 700 seasonal workers. Additionally, Ocean Protein produces fish meal, fish oil and bone meal for a worldwide market.
- Ocean Spray Cranberries process the county's large cranberry harvest, a producer of jelly, cranberry sauce and the newly added Craisin production line employ 125.
- In addition, 57 employees of Harbor Pacific Bottling Company distribute soft drinks.
- A host of commercial fishermen and other small processors provide valuable services to the area.
There are a number of other manufacturers in the county.
- Imperium Renewables operates the largest Biodiesel Processing Plant on the west coast in Grays Harbor.
- Invenergy produces electrical power at the 650 Megawatt combined cycle gas turbine steam plant located within the Satsop Business Park. The company, which employs 25, has plans for an expansion that will double their output.
- The Dow Chemical Company, formally Rohm & Haas employ 50 people in the manufacturing of sodium borohydride and potassium borohydride.
- Vaughan Company employs over 70 and produces chopper pumps used in manufacturing and waste processes.
- A cluster of local metal machine shops exist that separately or in cooperation produce custom parts and repair industrial equipment.
Natural Resource Industries
Grays Harbor County is located in one of the richest natural resource areas in the country. Not surprisingly, Forestry, Fishing and Farming have been vital to the county's economy since the first people inhabited the land.
Over 88 percent of Grays Harbor County is now covered by renewable forests. What started as land clearing in the 1850's evolved into an industry that shipped lumber initially to west coast settlements and eventually throughout the world.
Lumber production began to decline during the Great Depression, had a resurgence after World War II, and then national economic recessions and rising interest rates in the 1970's took their toll on the county's natural resource-oriented economy. Although the state's log exports declined more than 50 percent since 1989, Grays Harbor was still the largest lumber producing county in Washington and accounted for over 12 percent of the state's lumber production in 1998.
Weyerhaeuser, Simpson, Rayonier and Port Blakely actively manage their forests and Weyerhaeuser, Rayonier and Sierra Pacific ship logs throughout the world.
The Native Americans of Grays Harbor were the first to embrace commerce by means of fishing, hunting, and gathering. They lived on a rich diet of salmon, sturgeon, clams, oysters, crabs, mussels and barnacles. Most of the early white settlers were drawn to the area by excellent salmon fishing (King, Chinook, Blueback, Steelhead, Silver, and Chum) which spawned (no pun intended) a fish processing and canning industry.
By the 1890s, razor clams, cultivated oysters and crabs were harvested in Grays Harbor. By 1930 there were approximately 800 persons employed in Pacific County's canning industry.
Grays Harbor County qualifies as one of the world's most beautiful arboretums. The county's long growing season, mild climate and excellent precipitation produce a healthy diversity of crops and horticultural species.
The County's 400 farms produce over $20 million on 60,000 acres each year.
- Briggs Nursery, the largest grower of rhododendrons in the world, produces more than one million ornamental plants annually; Satsop Bulb Farm raises 3 million daffodil bulbs annually; B & C Farms produces 365 varieties of gladiolas, and Dan's Dahlias grows over 300 varieties of dahlias.
- In 1999, Grays Harbor farmers grew 1,500 acres of sweet corn and 1,000 acres of cannery peas at an average yield of 1,500 tons per acre.
- Briarwood Farms' has more than 1.3 million chickens - about a million produce more than 850,000 eggs a day. And while there were over 400 working dairies until the 1960's, the same number of cows are being milked on just 16 dairies today with greatly increased total milk production.
Tree farms are an important sector of Grays Harbor's farming economy. Port Blakely, Rayonier, Weyerhaeuser and Simpson have substantial farms in the county. And the Hedlund Tree farm provided the 1999 Christmas tree for the private quarters of the White House.