Unique Machine, a Sumitomo Corporation of America subsidiary, announced plans in December to relocate its operations.
The new location, 13.6 acres off King Street in Anchorage, was acquired by the company in March 2007. Three buildings are being built to accommodate Unique Machine, as well as office space that can be leased by other businesses. The entire development will be marketed as the “Alaska Technology Center,” said Pat Hanley, general manager of Unique Machine.
The largest of the three structures, a 29,000-square-foot building, will also carry Unique Machine’s name and logo. It will house the company offices, its general machine shop and various CNC lathes and mills.
The second building on the site, 18,000 square feet, will house Unique Machine’s full length threading plant, which will include a brand new Okuma LOC650 22-inch CNC lathe. The 22-inch lathe, being built in Japan, is the largest of its kind on the West Coast and was specifically ordered to support BP’s offshore Liberty oilfield development.
“BP came to us, knowing that we were building this new facility, and asked us what the incremental cost would be to upsize our threading line to support their project,” said Hanley. “In the end they came back to us and said, ‘If we support this can you guys make this work?’ We said yeah, we think we can make this work.”
The third building, a 14,000-square-foot warehouse, will be used for storage and material handling.
In addition to the new buildings, a rail spur to service the Alaska Technology Center will be completed in the spring. The spur will allow Unique Machine to offer customers additional services and provide them better support in managing their material supply to Alaska.
“The whole project demonstrates Sumitomo’s commitment to Alaska and to our company,” said Hanley. “They have a long term vision for Alaska that is based on customer service and strong business ideals.”
Unique Machine expects to be completely moved into its new location by the end of July.
“We will begin phasing into the plant in March,” Hanley said.
Largest machine shopFounded in 1973, Unique Machine has emerged as the largest machine shop in the state of Alaska.
In 2007, the company became the first Alaskan manufacturer to be both API Spec Q1 and ISO 9001 — 2000 quality management certified for the manufacture of oilfield equipment and the proprietary threading of casing and tubing.
Even though the company primarily manufactures and threads parts for the oil and gas industry, Hanley mentioned that Unique Machine also provides services to the general public and gets involved with numerous “fix-it” science projects.
“Our employees take great pride in servicing every industry and love solving customer problems,” Hanley said.
Last year Unique Machine got involved in a project with Jordan Wiess, a ConocoPhillips employee, building ski racks for the U.S. National Championships down at Alyeska.
“It was such a big event, and Alyeska did not have enough ski racks for all of the skis, so a guy from Conoco got a grant to do it and we donated the rest,” said Hanley. “A lot of people have this perception that we are a huge company because we do a lot in the community.” (Unique Machine has 43 employees.)
More recently, Unique Machine and Orange County Choppers announced that they were having a special chopper built to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Statehood for Alaska. The bike was put on display at the Dena’ina Center in January. (See news item and photo on page 69 of this directory.)
Unique Machine, which has operated in Anchorage for 35 years, is a stable figure in Alaska’s oilfield, mining, fishing and construction industries.
Hanley has been with Unique Machine for 15 years, 13 of those as general manager. The company operates 24/7, he said, and takes customer service “very seriously.”