Clark County leaders ramrodding light-rail

by Dave Lister

In 1980, David Madore had a problem. He needed a sensing inclinometer for a project but he couldn’t find one. He ended up designing and building one himself, and that invention led to his founding US Digital, now the world’s premier source for linear and rotary sensors.

Madore’s sensors are used to keep solar arrays precisely focused on the sun, satellites in correct orbits and submarines on course. In 1990, Madore moved the operation from California to Clark County.

US Digital is a shining example of an American high-tech manufacturing company that not only succeeds but thrives in the global economy. Madore’s steady hand on the corporate tiller has ensured that, despite the current recession, the company continues to grow. US Digital has hired 46 new employees during the past 20 months.

“We focus on making our customers successful,” Madore told me. “Profits take a back seat to customer satisfaction.” Putting the customer first is the primary key to US Digital’s success, but Madore adheres to two other principles that ensure success. First, by using automation, US Digital does not outsource any components for its products.

The only thing you see on the receiving dock are items such as bar stock, sheet metal, wire and plastic resin. These raw materials are converted into the sensors shipped worldwide by machines designed and programmed by Madore and his staff.

“We don’t use people like machines,” he said. “We give machines to people to use.”

The other key to his success is Madore’s aversion to debt.

“We have no debt,” he said. “Debt will kill a company. Rather than borrowing $250,000 to buy a new machine, we’ll find a used one for $2,500 and then re-engineer it to do what we want. If a company does incur debt, it has to be for something that will provide growth and it has to be paid off quickly.”

A devout Christian, Madore views his success as a blessing and is determined to pass it on. He provides free office space and utilities to 31 Christian outreach nonprofits in US Digital’s headquarters building. “I believe that to whom much is given, much is required,” he explained.

Given his dedication to his faith, family, employees and customers, it should come as no surprise that Madore is dedicated to his community. Having moved US Digital to Clark County for the freedoms it provided, Madore sees those freedoms threatened. From the “gavel down” incident at the Vancouver City Council to Mayor Tim Leavitt’s flip-flop on “no tolls” after winning election, Madore sees Clark County’s leaders ramrodding a light-rail agenda through against the will of voters.

“I believe in transparency,” Madore said, “and I expect others to be open and honest. But our leaders seem to think they can speak a truth into existence. They think if they say it, it must be so. Saying the Columbia River Crossing project is a bridge project is a misrepresentation. It’s not a bridge project, it’s a light-rail project. And the light-rail agenda is a top-down dictate. It’s not what the people want.”

To that end Madore has established two websites, and promotes the concept of a bridge between Gresham and East Clark County, built at a fraction of the cost of the CRC. is dedicated to providing a nonbiased news source for Clark County.

“North of the Columbia we call it ‘growth’ and it’s good.” Madore said. “South of the Columbia they call it ‘sprawl’ and it’s evil. I’m going to stand up and defend this community.”

Dave Lister is a small-business owner who served on Portland’s Small Business Advisory Council.