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'Door Lady' helps close chapter on Cascade work
Photos and Story by James Hill
PORTLAND, Ore. – Tracy Onchi literally opens the door for thousands and thousands of people.
"Some people call me the door lady," she said. "That’s okay. I like to make people happy."
Her northwest Portland door supply business, T.A. Onchi LLC, is the supplier of the 60 to 80 wood doors for the Daniel F. Moriarty Arts and Humanities building on the Cascade Campus. The $7.5 million, 42,200-square-foot facility is scheduled for a grand opening from 3 to 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 12. The two-story building will house the professional music, multimedia, distance education and arts programs.
Onchi has also supplied hundreds of doors for other Cascade projects like Jackson Hall, the Public Services Education Building, the Physical Education Building and the Technology Education Building. She is also responsible for the doors for Building 9 at Rock Creek and the Technology Classroom Building at Sylvania.
A former PCC student herself, Onchi has been in the door business for 12 years and has run her own company for more than seven. The Korean-born owner began in the construction industry working for Acme Industries in southeast Portland before heading out on her own.
Her company designs the doors and ensures that the fabrication meets the specifications that the customer needs (i.e. height, width, skin, locks, hinges and the way it swings). She also makes sure they are delivered on time and are installed correctly. And doors just aren’t a piece of wood. Some of the Arts and Humanities doors are high-tech and sound proof so they can be used in the facility’s music rooms. Most of the doors are about $250 each, but the sound ones are roughly $1,000 per door.
"Each door is made for a specific opening," Onchi explains. "It’s not rocket science, but there is a lot more detail than you can see. I have to coordinate all of their little nuances because each door is different."
She says the biggest thrill is seeing the completed product.
"I love coming to the site and seeing a finished building," said Onchi. "I can say that I saw the blue prints and each stage of construction. I get a feeling of belonging and a sense of accomplishment and even though I played a small role I was a part of it."
But there can be problems.
"The biggest challenge is keeping everyone happy and to do that I have to stay on top of everything," she says. "When something goes wrong, I have to deal with it. Customers look at suppliers and judge them by how they fix the problems that might occur. It shows what you are made of."
Now, as the Arts and Humanities Building moves forward for its September completion, Onchi feels a sense of pride.
"Since I attended PCC, it feels great to be involved in all of its projects," said Onchi, whose husband Dwight was a Judo instructor at PCC. "It’s nice to see PCC invest in the future. Community colleges play a big role in our community. If they weren’t here, so many people wouldn’t have an education."
With the MWESB initiative, the college has allocated $14.5 million to date in contract money toward women, minority or emerging small businesses for the construction projects.
"PCC really makes an effort to use MWESB business," Onchi said. "It’s a special thing."