Knife River: an iconic leader with a long history

The construction landscape is changing in the Pacific Northwest with the Grand Opening of Knife River‘s state-of-the-art precast concrete facility. At 45 acres and an imposing 185,000 square feet, the new plant in Newman Lake, WA replaces the company‘s 65-year-old Spokane operation with a high-tech, sustainable facility poised to transform the regional industry.

Knife River’s roots in the Northwest run deep, beginning with Central Pre-StressConcrete founded locally in 1959. When Oldcastle Infrastructure acquired Central Prestress in 1987, it was one of the region’s  leading precast structural and architectural precast producers. MDU Resources Group purchased Oldcastle’s Infrastructures Spokane precast assets in early 2020, integrating them into its Knife River subsidiary. This joined Knife River’s 60-year-old Oregon precast operations with Central Prestress’s 60 years of experience in Spokane.

According to Blake Johnson, Commercial Director “We’re building on decades of work by the Murphy family and Central Prestress who did a fantastic job building the market that allowed us to grow.” The company honors this legacy while modernizing operations. The acquisition included Central Prestress longtime Spokane Valley plant. This outdoor facility off Carnahan Road served as Knife River’s manufacturing hub while the new Newman Lake plant was under construction.

Today, Knife River’s most advanced plant, the Newman Lake facility sets a new bar for productivity, quality and working conditions. It offers the vast capacity to pursue major projects as infrastructure needs grow.

Cutting-Edge new Precast Plant

The Inland Northwest’s construction landscape is changing with the recent opening of Knife River’s state-of-the-art precast concrete facility. At 45 acres and an imposing 185,000 square feet, the new plant in Newman Lake replaces the company’s 65-year-old Spokane operation with a high-tech, sustainable facility poised to transform the industry. With its new plant, Knife River has raised the bar for innovation and sustainability in precast manufacturing. The company is driving advancements that improve productivity, quality, safety and environmental performance, while bringing precast construction indoors to accelerate schedules and reduce weather-related delays.

The fully enclosed plant has ample room for growth as the demand for prefabricated solutions continues to rise. The facility includes an enclosed batch plant with twin 3-yd. planetary mixers combining to produce 100 yards’ hourly output; automated concrete delivery buckets traveling 450 to 490 feet of rail along one fully and two partially enclosed production bays; sprawling bed space for architectural and structural building panels, solid or insulated; twin, 250-ft. prestressed bridge girder beds; 400-ft. hollow core bed; the lifting muscle of a single 15-ton, three 30-ton and twin 75-ton bridge cranes, all with 32-ft. hook heights; and, a new 90-ton mobile gantry crane.

Sustainability is integral to the plant’s design and operations. Features like electric cranes, closed-loop concrete curing, solar readiness and on-site aggregate harvesting dramatically cut environmental impacts. The plant is pursuing the first-ever Concrete Sustainability Council (CSC) certification for a North American precast facility. The CSC system typically applies to all products manufactured and supplied by the plant.

The plant also reflects Knife River’s focus on its workforce and community. More indoor production and automation promote safety, while open office spaces foster collaboration. According to Johnson, “We’re taking what had been done in the field and doing it better in a controlled manufacturing site. There’s no rain or sleet and we’re reducing volatility and enhancing quality.” The company draws on its 100-plus years of experience while embracing the future.

Serving Customers, Community

The Knife River stamp can be found on many of Spokane’s most recognizable buildings, including a pair of Walt Worthy projects – the Davenport Tower, that exclusively utilized precast construction, and the Davenport Grand which optimized the design process from the Tower, resulting in even faster construction. Rock Pointe, Riverview Corporate Center, the Amazon Distribution Center on the West Plains and One Spokane Stadium all benefited from collaboration with Knife River while over 1,000 pieces of precast structure for the seating risers, stairs and passageways at Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle were manufactured in Spokane and delivered and installed by Knife River.

Baker Construction & Development, Inc. worked with Knife River on the Tesla Sales and Service Facility in Liberty Lake. “This state-of-the-art facility sets a new standard for precast, prestressed production in the Northwest,” says Knife River President and CEO Brian Gray. “It allows us to provide competitive building and infrastructure solutions in a safe, controlled environment for decades to come. It’s an investment for today and for the future, and it reflects Knife River’s commitment to growth and our core values of People, Safety, Quality and the Environment.”

“This operation has capacity to supply major building and infrastructure projects while leading the industry in technology, working conditions, and environmental responsibility,” says Knife River Prestress Division VP and GM Peter Gay, a veteran of Oldcastle Precast and Lafarge North America. “As commercial building owners bring new demands and requirements for their facilities, and infrastructure ages across North America, the construction industry needs innovative concrete producers driving advancements in safety, quality and sustainability.”

The new plant created over 80 full-time local jobs, with plans to expand to 150 workers. Providing family-wage jobs and benefits is central to Knife River’s mission, with values that embrace people, quality, safety and the environment.

Setting New Standards

The Knife River brand goes back to 1917 when the company was founded near the Knife River in North Dakota. There are now over 6,000 employees that call Knife River home, working in 14 states across the Western U.S. On June 1, 2023, Knife River completed its spinoff from MDU Resources group and became an independent, public company trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Overall, Knife River’s new facility reflects a builder ready for the future yet staying true to its foundations. It sets a standard for how manufacturers can evolve while honoring team members and supporting communities. This enduring mission ensures Knife River will continue shaping the Northwest construction landscape for decades to come.

Eng. Alex DiCesare, VP MCT Group Inc, affirmed: “The new Knife River Prestress facility is one of a handful of North American plants equipped with MCT Group 3-yd. mix delivery buckets and casting machine hoppers. They combine to shorten the window of mixer discharge gate opening and mix flow into formwork. The batch plant’s two speedy planetary mixers ensure that the mix delivery buckets are charged at rates minimizing production crew wait times”.

He continues: “A third production bay, adjacent to girder fabrication, is configured for prestressed double tee casting and hollow core plank: our special designed MCT Group Inc. casting machine tailored to an extruder and to casting molds.”


MCT Italy S.r.l.

Via Perugia 105

06084 Bettona/Italy


Related articles:

Issue 05/2018 Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute

PCI announces new Board Chairman and Directors

The members and board of the Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute announced that they have elected a new Chairman and several new directors to their 2018 board of directors. Standard Concrete...

Issue 02/2019 New findings on the fatigue behavior of precast elements

Behavior of prestressed concrete girders

For prestressed precast concrete elements used in structures with predominantly cyclic loading, for example craneway girders in industrial structures or precast girders in bridge constructions, design...

Issue 07/2014 Vollert Anlagenbau

Prestressed concrete sleepers for America

High-speed rail lines traveling at more than 200 km/h and higher axle loads subject the roadbeds of railroad lines to enormous forces. Prestressed concrete sleepers for track systems therefore...

Issue 10/2013 Innogration

Sandwich construction combined with prestress

Ceiltec floor elements consist of two thin concrete shells connected by a purpose-developed perforated ribbed construction to form a sandwich element. The main advantages are a very high loadbearing...


Spancrete Joins North American Sustainable Plant Program

Spancrete has announced that it is taking part in the North American Precast Concrete Sustainable Plant Program. All of Spancrete’s plants will participate in this effort to enhance the environmental...