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28TH Whatcom Business Person of the Year, March 26

WWU President

Bruce Shepard:

The business of

academia

MAGAZINE

Spring 2014

How to build

an empire &

keep family first

Windermere dominates:

40% market share

Dan Washburn, CEO

Windermere Real Estate/Whatcom

Bringing home the bacon

Hempler grows to $30 million

Teeing off in ‘14

Whatcom golf caters to

Canadians and youth

Estimating environmental risk

How it impacts you

The Publication of The Whatcom Business Alliance


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Table of Contents

Duane Scholten, CEO, displays one of the major-brand pieces of equipment that has helped his company grow from scratch on a 20%

interest loan to $19 million in sales, with 9,000 customers. Scholten’s Equipment is one of four finalists for Whatcom Small Business of

the Year. (photo by Joella Ortega)

Cover Story: Lifetime Achievement

46

The pull of family trumped the pull of the corporate ladder for Dan and

Sharon Washburn when he had a chance to move around within IBM as

a young executive on the rise. Instead, he helped grow two businesses

in hometown Seattle, then a magnet called first Grandchild drew the Washburns to

Bellingham and into the real-estate business where their Windermere network now

dominates the Whatcom County market. (Staff Photo)

The One

20

The prestigious Business

Person of the Year

nominee list glowed, and

it narrowed to these four: builder of a

thriving neighborhood family drugstore,

Mike Hoagland; driving force behind the

huge grant-giving Whatcom Community

Foundation, Mauri Ingram; creator of

a global business that manufactures

electric equipment for boats, Scott

Renne, and the second-generation

dominator of the local automobile

industry, Rick Wilson.

Start-up Upstarts

30

This year’s finalists for

best businesses that

opened since Jan. 1,

2011, include one taking a ‘Q’ from the

environment in the Laundromat, one

transforming $2 airport parking into a

web of vehicle services (cab, limo, party

bus, detailing), one brewing up a storm

of quaffable pleasure, and one taking

marketing and advertising to new digital

realms of innnovation.

Small Biz,

Large Impact

38

The final lineup of Small

Business of the Year puts

a spotlight on hot tubs

and fireplaces, all-you-need insurance

coverage, tractors and harvesters, and

a tiny island inn with a large draw of

foodies from all across America (and

some abroad) to award-winning dinner.

4 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM


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Table of Contents

Masters of

Meat-making

12

The Hempler’s brand of

premium meats, bearing

the family signatures,

sizzles throughout the Pacific Northwest.

Their selectivity and excellence have

spread them into national distribution

with partners. They’re nit-picky about

pure, natural ingredients. Grandpa

would be proud of the heights the family

has risen to in the world of bacon,

sausage, and ham lovers during the last

80 years. (Photo courtesy of Hempler

Foods Group)

Whatcom

Golf: Loonie

Tunes

58 A substantial

number of the

golfers who tee it up at the

county’s 13 courses drove

across the border from B.C. to

stretch their dollar, providing

a huge boost to the economy

of golf countywide. A visit

with six golf operations

revealed that the Canuck

buck plays at anywhere from

less than 10% at one course

to upward of 80% at another,

but they’re all looking

for creative marketing to

stimulate interest for every

recreational golfer.

All-Vol,

Standing Tall

76

The Mt. Baker

Chapter

serves local

Red Cross emergency

needs, as designed – but its

outreach stretches far and

wide when disaster strikes.

Local volunteers take care

of neighbors, yes, but also

answer calls of distress in

places like a bridge collapse

on I-5, and a hurricane in

New Jersey.

Personally

Speaking

82

Dr. Bruce

Shepard

covers the

business bases of serving as a

university president, and how

a strong economic approach

strengthens Western

Washington’s academia and

its bond with the community

at large. Good listening, he

said, is the key….

Guest

Columns

96

The right

to water in

Whatcom

County rests with some highcourt

decisions, and is the

topic of two columns this

edition. Other topics range

from teenagers’ minimum

wage problems, to the

environmental-correctness

of beekeeping and of risk

management, to the power of

respect for workers in Lean

operations. And, of course,

our regular Tech in the Fast

Lane insights.

The Publication of The Whatcom Business Alliance

M A G A Z I N E

Managing Editor:

Mike McKenzie

Graphic Designer:

Adam Wilbert

Feature Writers:

Pamela Bauthues

Steve Hortegas

Sherri Huleatt

Lydia Love

Cheryl Stritzel McCarthy

Joella Ortega

Special Contributors:

Roger Almskaar

Big Fresh

Randall Benson

Don Brunell

Tony Larson

Ken Mann

Todd Myers

Mt. Baker Chapter/Red Cross

Erin Shannon

Cover Photo:

Mike McKenzie

Photography:

Lydia Love

Mike McKenzie

Joella Ortega

Courtesy Photos:

Blue Sea Systems (Scott

Lechner)

Hempler Food Group LLC

LaserPoint Awards

Todd Myers, Beekeeper

Mt. Baker Chapter/Red Cross

Red Rokk Interactive

Sudden Valley G&CC

Shuksan Golf Club

WWU (Matthew Anderson)

Ad Sales:

Coni Pugh

Randall Sheriff

Subscriptions:

Janel Ernster

Administration:

Danielle Larson

For editorial comments and suggestions, please write

editor@businesspulse.com

Business Pulse Magazine is the publication of the

Whatcom Business Alliance. The magazine is published

at 2423 E. Bakerview Rd., Bellingham, WA

98226. (360) 671-3933. Fax (360) 671-3934. The

yearly subscription rate is $20 in the USA, $48 in

Canada. For a free digital subscription, go to businesspulse.com

or whatcombusinessalliance.com.

Entire contents copyrighted © 2014 – Business

Pulse Magazine. All rights reserved.

POSTMASTER:

Send address changes to Business Pulse Magazine,

2423 E Bakerview Rd., Bellingham, WA 98226.

6 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM


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Troy Muljat

Owner, NVNTD Inc.

Managing Broker, Muljat

Group

Jane Carten

President/Director

Saturna Capital Corp.

Board Chair

Jeff Kochman

President/CEO

Barkley Company

Doug Thomas

President / CEO

Bellingham Cold Storage

Marv Tjoelker

Partner/CEO

Larson Gross PLLC

Dave Adams,

President

Emergency Reporting

Randi Axelsson,

Sales Manager

Silver Reef Hotel, Casino

& Spa

Pam Brady

Director, NW Govt. &

Public Affairs,

BP Cherry Point

Janelle Bruland

President / CEO

Management Services NW

Bruce Clawson

Senior VP, Commercial

Banking

Wells Fargo

Scott Corzine

Major Accounts

Executive,

Puget Sound Energy

Kevin DeVries

CEO

Exxel Pacific, Inc.

Greg Ebe

President/CEO

Ebe Farms

Andy Enfield

Vice President

Enfield Farms

John Huntley

President / CEO

Mills Electric, Inc.

Sandy Keathley

Previous Owner

K & K Industries

Paul Kenner

Executive VP

SSK Insurance

Bob Pritchett

President & CEO

Logos Bible Software

Brad Rader

Vice President/General Manager

Rader Farms, Inc.

Becky Raney

Owner/COO

Print & Copy Factory

Jon Sitkin

Partner

Chmelik Sitkin & Davis P.S.

Not Pictured: Guy Jansen, Director Lynden Transport, Inc. WBA, 2423 E. Bakerview Rd, Bellingham, WA 98226 • 360.671.3933

8 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM


Leading Off

At our most recent

WBA board meeting

we invited a panel of

experts to discuss what

could be the biggest issue

facing Whatcom County

over the next decade –

water rights. Who has the

rights, who needs them,

and how will it impact

agriculture, dairy, real

estate, and all property

owners?

WBA board member and

land-use attorney Jon Sitkin

moderated the discussion; he’s a

partner at Chmelik Sitkin & Davis,

P.S., Attorneys at Law. We just

scratched the surface, but the WBA

will plan many future opportunities

to keep you informed on these

pages and through various events.

Two guest editorials about water

rights appear in this edition.

We invite you to join us at our

board meetings for these lively

discussions on issues important to

business in Whatcom County. You

can check our meeting schedule

on our website.

We believe strongly that it’s

also important to recognize businesses

doing good things.

If you’re a Whatcom Business

Alliance member, or you’ve

attended one of the many WBA

business events, you’ve probably

heard a simple phrase that sums

up how WBA members feel about

our community: “Without business

success, there is no community

prosperity.” When local businesses

10 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM

Tony Larson | President, Whatcom Business Alliance

The Whatcom Business Alliance is a member organization made up

of businesses of every size and shape, from every industry. The WBA

enhances the quality of life throughout Whatcom County by promoting a

healthy business climate that preserves and creates good jobs.

Without business success,

no community prosperity

are successful, our community

prospers. When they are not, our

community suffers.

The WBA is committed to facilitating

business success in every

way possible. A small part of that

comes from recognizing and lifting

up the rising stars, pillars, and

business icons of the Whatcom

County business community. We

do that at an annual event, in it’s

28th year, coming up March 26

in the Event Center at Silver Reef.

We will recognize and honor business

people and companies for

their successful efforts in creating

jobs and enhancing the economic

and civic vitality of our community.

The finalists in three different

categories are profiled in

this edition. The winners will be

announced the evening of the

event.

The Start-up Business of the

Year finalists consist of companies

created within the last three years

that have operated successfully

and have great prospects for the

future.

The Small Business of the Year

finalists have operated successfully

for many years and must

have fewer than 100 employees.

Companies like these represent the

backbone of our local economy.

The Business Person of the Year

is an open category intended to

recognize leaders from private

or nonprofit organizations who

deserve recognition for building

their business, creating jobs, and

taking leadership roles in making

our community a better place to

live and work. The size of their

company doesn’t impact their eli-

At the WBA monthly board meeting a roomful of members and guests listened to a water

rights panel discuss the hottest issue of the next decade: (from left) Doug Allen from the

state Dept. of Ecology, Perry Eskridge representing the Whatcom County Association of

Realtors, attorney and WBA board member Jon Sitkin (moderator), and berry producer

Marty Maberry. (Staff Photo)


gibility to be recognized in this

category.

In addition, we will crown the

winner of the Whatcom County

Lifetime Business Achievement

Award. This annual award goes to

a person who has made significant

contributions to our community

over a long period of time. This

year, Dan Washburn, the CEO

of Windermere Real Estate in

Bellingham, receives that award.

We have a profile of him within

these pages, as well.

If you were to read the

names on the Lifetime Business

Achievement Perpetual Trophy,

it would read as a Who’s Who in

Whatcom County business history.

Many of the companies they built

continue with positive impact in

the county today. Companies like

Morse Steel, Lynden Transport,

Haskell Corporation, Yeager’s,

Allsop Inc., Wilder Construction,

Brown and Cole Foods, Peoples

Bank, Bellingham Cold Storage,

what is now Cascade Radio, Unity

Group Insurance, Haggen Foods,

Hardware Sales, Walton Beverage,

Diehl Ford, Jacaranda Corporation,

Exxel Pacific, Hempler’s Meats,

Westford Funeral Home, IMCO

Construction and Saturna Capital,

to name a few.

This special evening of recognition

has been called the Oscars

of Whatcom County Business. It

is a special night with a special

purpose. As a participant of every

one of the 27 previous events, I’m

always encouraged by the fraternity

of business owners and leaders

who come together because they

understand the value of recognizing

business people for the positive

contributions they make.

Few outside this fraternity

understand the risks, efforts,

sacrifices, and costs required to

start, operate, and grow a successful

business. Few understand the

weight of responsibility business

leaders feel for their employees –

the sleep they lose when things

aren’t going so well, or when they

have to make tough decisions that

impact their employees.

Many of the business owners I

speak to feel as though fewer and

fewer elected officials and people

in the general public understand

the valuable role that successful

businesses play in creating community

prosperity. Some don’t

understand that without business

success, our community cannot

thrive.

The businesses and business

people we honor bring us the

products and services we need and

desire. They help make us more

efficient and effective and provide

products and services that make

our lives easier.

When businesses are successful,

they provide jobs that allow

people to support their families,

and other businesses, and charitable

organizations in the community.

Successful businesses and

their employees pay a significant

portion of the taxes that allow

our government to operate and

to provide its services. They take

leadership roles on boards and

commissions. They get involved in

nonprofit fundraisers and provide

funding and volunteers for organizations

that serve the less fortunate

among us.

The businesses in our community

drive our economy and our

quality of life. Because of them

we have what we have. They raise

the tide, and a rising tide raises all

boats. The business leaders in our

community deserve to be recognized,

honored, and thanked. Join

us in doing so on March 26.

Whatcom Business Alliance

and Business Pulse Magazine happily

invite you to the table on the

evening of March 26 in the Event

Center at Silver Reef. It will be a

night of networking, fun, and celebration

of business in Whatcom

County. You can order a table of

8 or individual tickets online at

WhatcomBusinessAlliance.com, or

call 746-0410.

I hope to see you there.

Enjoy the Magazine!

WHATCOMBUSINESSALLIANCE.COM | 11


Business Profile: Hempler’s

Hempler’s continues

expansion brought

by 22% growth rate

to $30M in sales

80-year-old company bringing home the

bacon, more than ever – 10 times more

than just 8 years ago

By Cheryl Stritzel McCarthy

The story at Hempler’s

is growth. Growth

today, with their latest

and largest expansion

planned this year for their

facility in Ferndale – and

growth yesteryear, when

the Hempler family pitched

in and twisted sausages by

hand at the original site

on F Street in downtown

Bellingham.

Consider their explosive

growth of the last eight years of

this nationally-distributed brand

known mostly for its bacon and

hams:

During the year 2006, three

major developments helped the

business start an upward trend

that has multiplied the business 10

times its sales since then:

1. Stephen Bates, formerly

with the company in a

sales/management position,

returned (in ’05) and bought

into the business partnership

along with Hempler

Enterprises (the Hempler

family, essentially).

2. Premium Foods in

Vancouver, B.C., bought 51

percent interest and consolidated

a company in Oregon

into the operations that

added clout to marketing,

sales, and distribution.

3. Hempler’s built its new

30,000-square-foot Ferndale

facility.

In 2008 they added another

12 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM


Photo courtesy of Hempler’s

3,000 square feet to enlarge the

production area. Just last year

they expanded again with the

purchase of $1.5 million in new

equipment – smokehouses, a

200-horsepower boiler, increased

compressor capacity for more

chilling units – to boost production

25 percent.

The company, which prefers the

name Hempler’s though it’s formally

Hempler Foods Group LLC,

celebrates its 80th anniversary this

year. “We’re 80 and going strong!”

Bates said. “That doesn’t happen

for many companies.”

Hempler’s makes bacon, hams,

franks, sausages, bratwurst,

smoked poultry, and beef brisket.

Bacon accounts for 50 percent of

all sales, with hams the secondbiggest

seller.

A new 10,000-square-foot addition

will accommodate new equipment

that’s expected to increase

capacity another 30 percent.

Specifically, Hempler’s will enlarge

drying space needed to make

sausage and pepperoni. Another

3,000 square feet, in addition to

the 10,000, will provide better

facilities for employees, including

locker rooms, cafeteria, restrooms,

and conference space. Hempler’s

expects to break ground this

spring.

Even just two years ago, more

than three-quarters of Hempler’s

sales took place in Washington.

“Today, our business is 45 percent

Washington, and 55 percent outside

the state,” Bates said, including

California, Oregon, Arizona,

Alaska, Utah, Montana, and

“Never go anywhere with

empty hands. If you’re

going toward the cooler,

and there’s something that

needs to go in, take it

with you.”

—Richard Hempler, chairman,

on managing people

FROM EUROPE WITH LOVE

On page 15 read highlights of

Hempler’s pork sourcing process.

WHATCOMBUSINESSALLIANCE.COM | 13


Business Profile: Hempler’s

Idaho. “I envision a day, not too

distant, when less than 20 percent

of our sales are in Washington.

That’s due to exploding population

growth in other western states.”

Richard Hempler, company

chairman, said, “The growth is

all south and southeast. As our

company continues to grow, our

business outside of Washington

increases. Our sales center 10 years

ago was Seattle. Now that volume

percentage is moving south.”

Hempler’s is a regional company,

but through sales to Safeway

their products can be found

throughout the nation. Hempler

enjoys hearing fisherman friends

tell of buying bacon with his name

on it in a tiny store on a tiny

island at the tip of the Aleutians.

Hempler and Bates joke that they’d

like to call on the Safeway stores

in Hawaii – just to check on their

product, of course.

It’s all a long, long way from

the company’s Depressionera

beginning on F Street in

downtown Bellingham. Richard

Hempler’s father, Hans Hempler,

worked in his family’s sausage

business that started during the

1800s in Borken, Germany. Hans

Hempler became a master sausage

maker before immigrating to the

U.S. in 1928.

The story goes that he didn’t

speak much English, but chose

Bellingham because it sounded like

a belly and a ham, and he knew

what those were. He worked and

saved, and in 1934, with a partner,

bought B.B. Meat & Sausage

Company, 1401 F Street. The business

operated at that original site

through 2005.

“When I was 7 years old, after

school I’d go down to the plant

and help with clean up,” Richard

Hempler said. “I don’t know how

much help I was. If I wasn’t doing

anything, my dad put a broom in

my hand. I grew up in the family

business. Summers during high

school I worked in the sausage

kitchen.

“It was hard work. You had to

earn respect. I did; it took me a

“If I wasn’t doing

anything, my dad put a

broom in my hand. I grew

up in the family business.”

—Richard Hempler, chairman

while. We used to twist the sausages

into individual links by

hand. You could do 75 pounds of

sausage an hour. Today, we have

machines do that 50 times faster,

and more accurately.”

The old plant had its own retail

outlet, which operated through

the 1980s. The store included big

butcher blocks, three meat cutters,

and a 40-foot-long, fullservice

glass case stocked with

14 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM


WILSON TOYOTA

Pork products – the fastest-growing market for Hempler’s – require travel afar, even

abroad, for the company to meet its strict quality requirements.

(Photos courtesy of Hempler’s)

On Sourcing Pork:

Ironically, while Hempler’s has grown an enormously popular brand

locally, and throughout Washington and the entire Western U.S.,

it must go abroad to source some of its biggest sellers – an allnatural

line of meats.

“We try to source as locally as possible,” said Kestin Hempler

Liberato, the director of sales. “We get poultry, beef, and chicken

from Washington and Oregon.”

However, she said, there’s not a pork market in the Pacific

Northwest, so the company goes elsewhere in North America and

Europe.

“People wonder why we’d go so far,” Kestin said. “Our product

quality (for Hempler’s natural line) specifies no growth promoters,

and no antibiotics, and the animals must be vegetarian-fed and

humanely-raised.

“We created a differentiated product in the market. We have to

go (far) to get that. That side of the business is far and away our

fastest-growing segment.”

To all our

Patrons

who helped

make us #1.

Thank You

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Commercial Sales

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WHATCOMBUSINESSALLIANCE.COM | 15


Business Profile: Hempler’s

sausage and fresh and smoked

meats. Hempler’s also supplied

other stores. “Back then, every

third block had its mom-and-pop

grocery store, tiny stores,” Richard

said. “We serviced stores throughout

Whatcom, Snohomish, and

Skagit counties.

“Nothing was refrigerated or

wrapped. We’d run into a store

with a little order pad. They’d

order a bundle of franks, a pork

loin, a slab of bacon. Some would

order just three pounds of hamburger,

or four pork chops. You’d

run out to your truck, get it, go

back in the store, put it on his

scale, calculate the price, and collect

the money. Everybody used us

as their banker; sometimes they’d

pay us with checks for $1.50 or

50 cents that customers had given

them.”

At that time, a sausage made

in Bellingham on Tuesday would

be delivered to a store Wednesday,

then sold and eaten that evening.

Richard remembered going to the

Bloedel-Donovan Lumber Mill

(now Bloedel-Donovan Park) for

sawdust, and he told of reaching

under whirring blades to collect

fresh sawdust in barrels. Back in

the plant and store on F Street, the

thick layer of sawdust absorbed

meat juices and kept slipping to

a minimum. It had to be raked

nightly and replaced weekly.

“I’d stand there with Dad

and Opa (grandfather

Hans Hempler) in a line.

We’d twist, and then hang

sausages, and then put it

all in the smokehouse.”

—Kestin Hempler Liberato, sales representative,

who helped in the plant growing up

When Richard Hempler returned

to Bellingham after college he

started working his way up

through the company. In 1974 he

bought his father’s partner’s share

of the business.

Richard’s daughter, Kestin

Hempler Liberato – now a sales

representative – recalled working

in the old plant, too. After

Whatcom Middle School let out

she’d walk to the plant to pitch in.

She spoke of an old machine that

stuffed sausages.

“When the water pressure let

out of the stuffer, you needed

your boots on,” she said. “I’d

stand there with Dad and Opa (her

grandfather, Hans). We’d stand in

a line and twist, and then hang

(sausages), and then put it all in

the smokehouse. You could grab

a hotdog to eat, right out of the

smokehouse. There is nothing better.”

Growth in the earlier decades

was gradual. Hempler said,

“Things evolved. We broadened

our sales base into Seattle and

Tacoma in the ‘80s.” As manufacturing

equipment improved,

diane padys photography.com

[ visual exposure]

photography that captures a sense of place

16 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM


and when need and affordability

intersected, Hempler’s updated its

machinery.

“Through the ages, sausage

was stuffed in a natural casing,”

Hempler said. “They were not uniform,

one end to the other. You’d

end up with different sizes and

lengths. Plus, they were harder to

handle.” Methods progressed, and

manufacturers moved to casings

made of cellulose.

Congratulations to the

Business Person of the

Year Finalists!

“In any business, leadership

helps; but Hempler’s is

built on great products

and good leadership, not

the other way around.”

—Stephen Bates, president

But before a frankfurter is sold,

its cellulose casing is removed (90

percent of hotdogs are sold skinless.

“We used to take that off by

hand. If you were really fast, you

could do 80-to-100 pounds an

hour. Now our machine does 3,000

pounds an hour.”

Hempler’s closed its on-site

retail outlet on F Street in the

mid-1980s to concentrate on sales

to independent grocers. When

sales gathered momentum the old

plant – constructed in 1896 – was

no longer big enough. The production

area was less than 10,000

square feet. “We kept it up, and it

was modern inside, but the structure

wasn’t ideal for a food processing

plant. There was no room

around us; we couldn’t expand,”

Hempler said.

If the company was going to

keep bringing home the bacon, it

would need a new home.

Richard, his wife Nancy, and

the children knew they had to do

something. “It was build a new

facility, or quit,” he said. “And

I’d be damned if I’d quit on my

Cont #WHIRLS1090D9

WHATCOMBUSINESSALLIANCE.COM | 17


Business Profile: Hempler’s

watch. The kids were with me on

this, my wife was with me.

“I knew we didn’t have the personnel

to take us to the next level,

and the next, and the next. We

were doing great at the level we

were, but I was getting older, I was

68 then.”

That year, 2005, Richard sought

out Stephen Bates, who’d previously

worked for Hempler’s in

the early ‘80s as sales and general

manager, and then had been

employed 20 years at Fletcher’s

Fine Foods, a subsidiary of the

conglomerate Premium Brands.

Hempler recounted the move:

“I said to Steve, ‘Why not come

help me?’ He called back and said,

‘How serious are you?’ I said, ‘Get

your tail up here.’” Bates came

back to Hempler’s in 2005, and

Premium Brands became a slight

majority business partner with

Hempler Foods Group LLC the

next year. Business skyrocketed

“They’re a large company,”

Hempler said. “They were able to

help finance and grow us into the

future. Steve orchestrated this (and

the new Ferndale facility). It was

monumental. A food processing

plant is very expensive to build.”

Bates said, “This is a great place

for making ham, bacon, and sausage.

We know that if your products

are successful, the financials

pay off.”

In need of yet more space, last

year Hempler’s moved its assembling

and warehousing to a coldstorage

facility in Blaine, and now

contracts 20,000 square feet there.

Hempler, vibrant and active at

76, is moving the responsibility

for guiding the family business

to his daughter, Kestin, and her

husband, Marc Liberato, the production

superintendent. In 2010,

Hempler joined a distinguished list

of Whatcom County business icons

when he was honored with the

Whatcom County lifetime business

achievement award by Business

Pulse Magazine and the Whatcom

Business Alliance. The 28th

Kestin Hempler Liberato, sales representative, and her father Richard Hempler, chairman

stand next to a framed photo of founder Hans Hempler with his business partner in the

1940s. (Photo by Cheryl Stritzel McCarthy)

awards celebration takes place this

March 26.

“We put our personal guarantee

on our product,” Kestin Hempler

Liberato said. Kestin’s signature

graces Hempler’s line of natural,

preservative-free products. “Our

meats have a very short ingredient

list, ingredients you’d have in your

own kitchen.”

Richard Hempler’s signature

appears on other products that

boast a heritage tracing to original

recipes from the family kitchen in

Germany.

The keys to the company’s success,

according to Hempler: “Be

honest. Take care of your customers.

Take care of your employees.

Know what it costs to produce and

sell the product, you gotta know

that. Never give up. Don’t quit.

Workers at Hempler’s process the hams that constitute the company’s second-fastest

selling product next to bacon. (Photo courtesy of Hempler’s)

18 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM


Don’t ask anybody to do a job you

wouldn’t do yourself – though you

should hire people to do things

you’re not as good at.”

He also values the advice that

his immigrant father instilled:

“Never go anywhere with empty

hands. If you’re going toward the

cooler, and there’s something that

needs to go in, take it with you.”

Bates credited Hempler’s 80

employees with keeping Hempler’s

products “best in class.” Several

employees bought homes in 2013.

“It’s neat to see the employees

fulfill their hopes and dreams. too.

Our business success is built on

really good products and really

good employees.”

Hempler’s products can be purchased

in more than 2,000 stores

and hundreds of restaurants across

the country, plus on e-commerce

sites such as AmazonFresh.com.

Stephen Bates (left), the company

president, joins sales rep Kestin

Hempler Liberato and chairman Richard

Hempler outside their new facility

standing next to a 1940s sausagestuffer

from the original plant.

(Photo by Cheryl Stritzel McCarthy)

Business Box Score

Hempler Foods Group LLC

• Ownership partners:

Richard Hempler,

chairman; Stephen Bates,

president, with premium

brands (Canada) as 51

percent majority holder.

• Start-up: 1934 (family

bought an existing

business that began in

1896).

• Annual sales revenue:

more than $30 million.

• Growth indicators: a 22

percent increase in sales

year-over-year the last

eight years. Company has

grown 10 times its size of

eight years ago.

• Employees in 1934: 15.

• Employees now: 80, all in

Whatcom County.

WHATCOMBUSINESSALLIANCE.COM | 19


Business Person of the Year

From left, last year’s winners at the Whatcom Business Person of the Year Awards dinner: Randy Hartnell of Vital Choice Seafood &

Organics (Small Business), Nick Kaiser of Saturna Capital (Lifetime Achievement), Bob Pritchett of Logos Bible Software (Business Person),

and Mike Hughes of NextLevel Training (Start-Up). (Staff Photo)

The Oscars of Whatcom County business awarded

at dinner banquet on March 26

By the Business Pulse Staff

A

dozen finalists in

three categories and

a Lifetime Achievement

Award winner take the

spotlight March 26 at the

28th annual Whatcom

Business Person of the

Year Awards, presented

by the Whatcom Business

Alliance, Whidbey Island

Bank and Business Pulse

Magazine.

The event, attracting a sellout

crowd of more than 400, takes

place in the Event Center at Silver

Reef.

20 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM

This is the longest-running

event of its kind celebrating business

success in Whatcom County.

The finalists among nominees this

year represent a variety across

several industries – including family-brand

leaders in pharmaceuticals/medical

equipment and in

automobile and truck sales/service,

plus boating, and one of the most

prosperous and generous nonprofits

in the region.

The four finalists for

the Business Person of

the Year Award include

(alphabetically):

• Mike Hoagland is a practicing

pharmacist (RPh,

CPG) who owns Hoagland

Pharmacy, which last year

stood 43rd on the Business

Pulse list of Top 75 Private

Companies in Whatcom

County. The Bellingham

business started in 1981,

and it approaches $20 million

in revenues with about

80 employees in retail pharmacy,

along with special

medical equipment and

services.

• Mauri Ingram serves as

president of the Whatcom

Community Foundation. It

started 18 years ago, and as

one of about 650 community

foundations nationwide,


and 19 in Washington, that

enhance the quality of life

in their communities, the

WCF has raised and distributed

millions to causes in

Whatcom County.

• Scott Renne, the founder,

president and CEO of Blue

Sea Systems in Bellingham,

started and created another

company (since sold) and

both would have ranked in

the county’s Top 75. Blue

Sea Systems (ranked No.

35), which sprang from a

seed idea Renne had while

sailing to Asia and back,

supplies electrical parts for

boats to retailers worldwide.

• Rick Wilson is the son

of the founder of Wilson

Motors in Bellingham,

No. 16 in the Top 75 with

industry-leading sales in

excess of $50 million. He

purchased the business from

his father, and then added a

partner a few years

ago, and the business

burgeoned

in 2013 with the

addition of a fifth

line of new automobiles

and the

buyout of another

dealership.

Dan Washburn, owner of the

storied Windermere Real Estate

territory covering Whatcom

County, will join the long line of

Lifetime Achievement Award winners.

This is his third company

that has grown to outstanding levels.

Read his story in this edition.

The finalists in the

other two categories

(alphabetically):

Start-Up Business of the Year:

• I-5 Parking in Ferndale

• Kulshan Brewing Company

in Bellingham

• Q Laundry in Bellingham

• Red Rokk Interactive in

Bellingham

Small Business of the Year:

• Innovations in Quality

Living in Bellingham

• Rice Insurance Company in

Bellingham

• Scholten Equipment in

Lynden

• The Willows Inn on Lummi

Island

Tickets or tables of 8 for the

dinner awards banquet are available

for purchase. Go to www.

whatcombusinessalliance.com and

click on Business Person of the

Year event, or call 360.746.0410

for more information.

WHATCOMBUSINESSALLIANCE.COM | 21


Business Person of the Year Finalist: Mike Hoagland, Hoagland Pharmacy

Rosa and Mike Hoagland in front of the Yew Street pharmacy they started from scratch in

1981. (Photo by Joella Ortega)

A personal approach

to pharmaceutical needs

By Joella Ortega

Hoagland Pharmacy

opened for business

33 years ago with one

employee. Now, with

the opening of a new

retail and multi-services

storefront in Sedro-

Woolley last year, that

employee – founder Mike

Hoagland – has become

a finalist in the selection

of Whatcom County’s

Business Person of the

Year.

A graduate of the pharmacy

school at the University of

Washington, he serves as president

in the company that he and his

wife, Rosa, began in 1981 on Yew

Street in Bellingham. Hoagland

was the only employee in the store

for the first 1½ years.

By the fourth year he had to

double space, and in 2000 the

company moved into its evenlarger

current location which will

add more space soon for one of

its latest specialties, compounding

injectable medications.

From the start, emphasis centered

on individualized personal

service at the pharmacy and additional

specialized services, such as

a niche market in medicinal compounding.

The staff grew to 20

employees by 1988 and has continuously

gained momentum with

a staff now numbering about 75.

Hoagland said that they grew

the business “through hard work,

dedicated employees, and continued

support from the community.”

Hoagland Pharmacy’s website

declares, “We excel in providing

custom solutions to individual

medication and health needs.”

Those needs include specialized

medical equipment, respiratory

services, over-the-counter medications,

vaccinations, the popular

Mediset weekly pill box program,

compounding, and even delivery

services. Last year, Hoagland’s

added an automated prescriptionfilling

machine.

Hoagland has successfully created

a throwback to the era of the

family drug store –beyond just

having a prescription filled and

a quick consultation. Until about

seven years ago it even had an ice

cream and soda shop.

That’s where Molly Greenleaf,

who manages the company’s

durable home-health equipment

and marketing, got her start 11

years ago. “I managed the coffee

bar and ice cream stand,” she

said. “We had one-dollar cones. I

remembered coming here as a kid

when my family needed antibiotics

and other things. It definitely has

been your hometown drug store,

thriving with relationships built on

personalized service.”

Hoagland Pharmacy has

successfully created a

throwback to the era

of the family drugstore

(with) custom solutions to

individual needs.

The Sedro-Woolley location

stands as Hoagland’s proudest

business achievement of 2013. It

provides retail pharmacy, durable

medical equipment, and sleep

apnea equipment. “It’s a bit different,”

Greenleaf said, “because

it has a respiratory technician on

board – something that was missing

in the Sedro-Woolley market.”

The new store added four full-time

employees to the Hoagland roster.

A target during 2014 involves

expanding the organization’s loyalty

program. Also, a plan is in

22 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM


place to add space to the facility

in Haskell Business Complex that

houses Hoagland Pharmacy’s specialty

services for long-term care.

Another goal, Greenleaf said,

is to grow its market share in the

durable medical equipment. Also,

Hoagland’s Pharmacy has been

recognized locally and elsewhere

for its contributions in individualized

compounded medications

ever since Hoagland attended the

Professional Compounding Centers

of America in 1987. He also specializes

in geriatric pharmacology.

The philosophy behind the

organization’s charitable involvement

is that the local community

should not be served just

by Hoagland Pharmacy’s services

but also supported by its

resources. Mike Hoagland has

worked with organizations such

as the Alzheimer’s Society of

Washington, Bellingham Food

Bank, the National MS Society,

and the Whatcom Hospice

Foundation.

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Business Person of the Year Finalist: Mauri Ingram, Whatcom Community Foundation

Mauri Ingram leads an organization that awarded more than $2.1 million to the community

last year. (Photo courtesy of Whatcom Community Foundation)

Nonprofit matchmaker:

finding catches for donors

and local nonprofit organizations

By Joella Ortega

Mauri Ingram first

learned about the

Whatcom Community

Foundation when receiving

one of its grants on

behalf of a nonprofit she

co-founded, now called

the Downtown Bellingham

Partnership (nee Downtown

Renaissance Network).

A few years later the

Whatcom Community

Foundation asked her to

join its board of directors.

Now she is its president and

CEO coming off a banner year

from which she has become a

finalist for the most prestigious

award in the Whatcom business

community.

A former co-owner of two local

restaurants and an employee of

Trillium Corp., Ingram leads the

one of the state’s 19 community

foundations on behalf of a 10-person

board. “My career path has

been anything but linear,” she

said. “I knew I wanted to run a

business. What I didn’t know was

that I would want the community

to own it.”

The foundation thrived in 2013,

awarding more than $2 million in

grants and $100,000 in scholarships,

and ranking in the top 25

most active grant-makers among

the approximate 650 nationwide

community foundations for the

fourth consecutive year. Ingram

said that the new Ferndale library

was a highlight of 2013, culminating

a seven-year process of helping

to raise the funds that built it.

The Whatcom Community

Foundation formed in 1996 on

an anonymous gift. It has grown

perhaps the largest benefactor

footprint in the county. “We ended

our last fiscal year with assets of

more than $20 million,” Ingram

said. “That’s 20 times our original

assets.”

She said the foundation has

made grants to hundreds of local

nonprofits, expanding from about

$100,000 a year in grant-making

to over $3.8 million a year. Donors

number about 4,900 and staff has

grown from less that two full-time

to five.

Ingram deflected credit for the

successes. “Everything I’ve accomplished

has been the result of

working with others,” she said. “I

don’t feel like I own any achievements

independently.”

“My career path has been

anything but linear. I knew

I wanted to run a business.

What I didn’t know was

that I would want the

community to own it.”

In addition to the two nonprofits

she served in Bellingham,

she also has engaged in other

community-service projects, such

as the Campaign for the Arts, the

Whatcom Coalition for Healthy

Communities, and she’s a member

of the YWCA’s Northwest Women’s

Hall of Famem,

The Whatcom Community

Foundation mission works through

donors and local organizations to

properly channel monetary donations,

and also assists community

partners with information on business,

education, and government.

24 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM


“We help donors bring their

philanthropic goals to fruition by

providing counsel and information

about the opportunities and

the variety of ways they can make

a difference through their giving,”

Ingram said. “We assist nonprofit

organizations through a range

of investments in their success.

Lastly, we work with a wide range

of community partners.”

Through her work with the

foundation Ingram has left a lasting

mark on the positive efforts

that the Whatcom Community has

made, and the recognition that the

county has received for its efforts.

“Whatcom County is known

well beyond our borders for our

collaborative nature,” Ingram said.

“Many of the obstacles to opportunities

are well-hidden. We work

well to cultivate relationships with

our funders, and create opportunities

for our donors to collectively

take advantage of the opportunities

we have to be the community

that we can be.”

Fingers crossed is not a business strategy.

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WHATCOMBUSINESSALLIANCE.COM | 25


Business Person of the Year Finalist: Scott Renne, Blue Sea Systems

Scott Renne built two businesses on high-quality electrical parts for boats and trucks.

(Photo courtesy of Blue Sea Systems/Scott Lechler)

Scott Renne set sails based

on his heart—and made port

as world’s best retail supplier

By Steve Hortegas

mix of community, technical and

university education.” Renne said.

The company employs about 75

people locally, with an additional

30 short-term contract employees

expected for 2014. That’s more

than $5 million in payroll injected

into the local economy. Renne also

provides millions of dollars in positive

U.S. trade balance, with some

$15 million to American suppliers.

But it’s a culture of continuous

“Customer Experience” improvement

that drives success.

“We treat every employee as

a colleague and every customer

as a friend,” Renne said. “Every

action we take is in pursuit of

improving our performance based

on Ten Elements of the Customer

Experience.”

Element 10 states: Products are

supported by Blue Sea Systems as

long as the customer owns them.”

The greatest satisfaction in

business and life can be attributed

to how one handles adversity,

Renne said. His decision in 2003

to issue a voluntary recall could

have bankrupted the company.

It cost more than $1 million, but

customers appreciated the decision

and worked with the company to

minimize cost.

Scott Renne sailed into

his future during a

two-year ocean voyage

around the Pacific. It was

during this adventure

that he realized electrical

equipment on boats was

of poor quality. Renne

then moved forward, into

the market of high-quality

electrical products.

Renne is the founder, president

and shareholder of Blue Sea

Systems, an organization that

manufacturers electrical system

equipment for marine and specialty

emergency vehicles, as

well as alternative energy and

industrial applications. More than

1,000 products, mostly made

in Bellingham, are distributed

to 44 countries. Last year, Blue

Sea Systems earned a title as the

nation’s best supplier.

“I followed my heart to start a

business doing what I loved,” said

Renne.

His father was a commercial

fisherman, and Renne spent

10 years as an executive at the

world’s largest retailer of marine

equipment.

Founded in 1992, Renne has

grown annual revenues to $25

million with 22 consecutive years

of profitability.

“[Whatcom County is] a fabulous

home for Blue Sea Systems

– high quality of life, diverse and

talented workforce, and wonderful

“If you are inclined to be

an entrepreneur, and to

grow and be successful

at a company, I rank that

as one of those defining

aspects of life. Right up

there with having children

and the love of your life.”

“It was better than any team

building exercise we could have

devised,” Renne said. “Every challenge

we have faced since then

has seemed trivial.”

Employees rallied to notify

26 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM


owners and replace products scattered

across the world’s oceans.

The company emerged with a

stronger management team and

tremendous good will from customers.

“If you are inclined to be an

entrepreneur, and to grow and be

successful at a company, I rank

that as one of those defining

aspects of life. Right up there with

having children and the love of

your life,” Renne said.

Renne now focuses Blue Sea

Systems’ philanthropy on challenges

faced by young people.

Renne is a father of three and said

the most influential charitable

efforts are obtained by directing

resources to those in the younger

years of life.

“Following my heart and doing

what I loved gave me the energy I

needed in the early years of struggle,”

Renne said, “and has made

me eager to get to work every

morning for 22 years.”

“Great partners, incredibly professional,

and easy to work with.”

Janelle Bruland,

President / CEO

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Business Person of the Year Finalist: Rick Wilson, Wilson Motors

Putting family in the

driver’s seat:

Wilson Motors cruises

By Sherri Huleatt

What’s the recipe

for success behind

the No. 1 car dealership

in Whatcom County?

According to its president,

Rick Wilson, it’s simple:

Treat your customers like

you’d treat your mother.

Fortunately for Wilson

Imports Inc. this familystyle

philosophy has paid

off for Wilson in a big

way.

For starters, Wilson experienced

a robust 2013:

• His company led Whatcom

County in volume for

inventory and new and used

vehicle sales;

• They won the Toyota

President’s Award for

Overall Operating Excellence

for the fourth time in the

last five years;

• And, they added a brand by

purchasing the former King

Nissan dealership just down

the street.

With two store fronts on Iowa

Street in Bellingham, Wilson’s

automobile dealership previously

sold Toyota, Scion, and Mercedes-

Benz. In the 2013 listing of

Business Pulse Magazine’s Top 75

Whatcom County privately-owned

businesses, Rick Wilson’s company

stood No. 16 by topping $50

million in sales during 2012, and

stands to rise in those ratings this

year after a robust 2013.

Wilson Imports’ growth has

been a family affair. Rick Wilson’s

father Dick founded the business

as a Lincoln-Mercury

dealership 54 years

ago, and Rick Wilson

joined the team in

1968.

The company

gradually added

more vehicle brands,

and in 1986 Rick

Wilson bought out

his father and became

president of the company.

Seven years

ago Julian Greening

joined Wilson’s team

as co-owner and general

manager.

Wilson attributed

their success to the

company’s dedication to “The

Wilson Way”—the idea that purchasing

a Wilson Motors vehicle,

whether new or used, means

you’re driving the best, and should

expect the best customer service.

“As much as my wife

and I have traveled,” said

Wilson, “I can’t think of a

better place to live and do

business than in Whatcom

County.”

—Rick Wilson

Because of this philosophy

Wilson Motors has built up a

loyal customer base and a strong

reputation in the community –

although the story of Wilson’s rise

isn’t told without its fair share of

hiccups.

Exactly one month before

Lynn and Rick Wilson: Business is thriving after “…

didn’t know if we could make it,” Rick said.

(Photo courtesy of Wilson Motors)

opening their new Toyota store

in October 2008, the Dow Jones

Industrial Average dropped 778

points. Just two weeks after that, it

sank another 732 points. “I really

didn’t know if we could make it,”

Wilson said. However, the recession

wasn’t enough to hold back

his company from thriving financially,

or philanthropically.

Last year Wilson Motors donated

more than $45,000 to charities.

“We try to give back as much

as we can in both community

involvement and charities,” he

said.

Wilson serves on PeaceHealth

St. Joseph Medical Center’s

Finance Committee and he has

chaired the Finance Committee of

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church for the

last 15 years.

“As much as my wife and I

have traveled,” said Wilson, “I

can’t think of a better place to live

and do business than in Whatcom

County.”

28 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM


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Start-Up Business of the Year Finalist: I-5 Parking

Caleb and Melissa Bowe stay busy booking cabs, limos, buses, and vehicle detailing in

addition to inexpensive airport parking. (Staff Photo)

Airport Parking is just the beginning

for budding entrepreneur

By Sherri Huleatt

Between the growth at

the Bellingham airport

and the influx of Canadian

travelers, Caleb and Melissa

Bowe, co-owners of the

newly opened I-5 Airport

Parking, are capitalizing

on the huge demand for

affordable airport parking.

The Bowes set out to create a

one-stop shop for travelers in need

of an affordable place to park their

car.

“Almost every person or family

heading out for vacation is

looking for ways to save money,”

Caleb said. “What people sometimes

forget is the costly parking

fees. We’ve designed our lot to

save people money even before

they leave for vacation.”

By servicing the parking lot

with their two other businesses

— Northwest Town Car Service

and Northwest Limousine — the

Bowes are able to offer personalized

services to their customers,

while growing their other businesses.

Whether their customer is

looking for an affordable place to

park their car, a quick taxi ride to

the airport, or a relaxing ride in

a luxurious town car—I-5 Parking

offers it all.

“While most businesses are

building one step at a time, we’re

building up our other businesses

as well,” said Caleb. “We started

our parking business to grow our

other businesses, and utilize our

entire facility to provide more services

for customers.”

Although the Bowe’s business

offers affordable pricing, starting

at just $2 a day, with the recent

airport expansion they face stiff

competition from other airport

parking lots.

“What sets us apart from the

other off-site lots, [besides] cost,

is the personalized service,” Caleb

said.

Caleb argues that most other

off-site airport parking lots have

limited hours, only offers shuttle

services, and are reservation only.

The Bowe’s, on the other hand,

offer a more personalized service.

“We can accommodate any

flight time, while offering a personal

taxi, 24 hours a day.” Caleb

said.

Their lot, which can accommodate

upwards of 250 cars, parked

about 50 cars a day when they

first opened; now, they park about

100 cars a day. While this growth

is a move in the right direction,

for Caleb it’s not quite enough.

Caleb’s dream is to offer car

services and repairs while customers

are away.

“When our facility is

100 percent operational,

we’ll have a multitude of

businesses that parking

customers can use while

they’re away.”

–Caleb Bowe

“In today’s society, every car

owner is in a hurry or too busy to

get simple car maintenance done,

like oil changes and car detailing,”

Caleb said. “We would love

to offer other entrepreneurs the

opportunity to build their business

at our location.”

I-5 Airport Parking is housed

in a 15,000 square foot facility in

Ferndale that used to be a school.

The business has about 10,000

square feet available to lease out

to other businesses, Caleb said.

“Ideally, when our facility is

100 percent operational, we’ll have

a multitude of businesses that

parking customers can use while

they’re away,” he said.

30 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM


BP Cherry Point Refinery

recognizes the dedication it

takes to make this list.

CONGRATULATIONS

2014 Whatcom County Business

Person of the Year Finalists:

Start-Up Business of the Year

I-5 Airport Parking

Kulshan Brewery

Red Rokk

Q-Laundry

Small Business of the Year

Rice Insurance

Scholten Equipment

Willows Inn

Innovations Stoves and Spas

Business Person of the Year

Scott Renne, Blue Sea Systems

Rick Wilson, Wilson Motors

Mauri Ingram, Whatcom Community Foundation

Mike Hoagland, Hoagland Pharmacies

Lifetime Achievement Award

Dan Washburn


Start-Up Business of the Year Finalist: Kulshan Brewery

Chris Noskoff (left), systems manager, and owner David Vitt toast the tastes at Kulshan Brewery in Bellingham. (Photo by Joella Ortega)

The new brew on the block:

Kulshan Brewery finds its niche

By Sherri Huleatt

There’s no question that

Pacific Northwesters

love their fair share of

craft brews. But when

the locals go so far as

to start measuring the

distance from their front

doors to the entrance of

their favorite brewery—all

for the sake of bragging

rights—you know you’ve

come across something

special.

Kulshan Brewing Company

burst onto the Bellingham brew

scene in April 2012, and has since

provided for plenty of thirsty

customers. Between offering nine

different locally-brewed beers and

a laid-back atmosphere, Kulshan

seems like it’s been here for several

decades—rather than less than

two years.

“The response from the local

community has been astounding,”

said David Vitt, Co-Owner

of Kulshan Brewery, located on

James Street in Bellingham. “We

have a ton of regulars that come

in on a daily basis, most of which

are from the Sunnyland neighborhood.”

Founding the company on a

shoestring budget, their life savings,

and an earnest love of beer,

the men behind Kulshan pride

themselves on offering the highest

quality ales and outstanding customer

service. When asked what

inspired Co-Owners David Vitt,

Mickey Vitt, Jon Greenwood, and

Ralph Perona to open their brewery,

David replied: “Simply the

32 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM


fact that we love beer.”

With 12 full-time employees—all

from Whatcom County—Kulshan is

a 15-barrel brewery that offers a

variety of rotating brews, including

unique options like IPA and

Kitten Mittens Winter Ale.

Although Kulshan doesn’t have

an on-site kitchen, they keep their

customers well-fed by featuring a

variety of rotating food trucks that

set up shop outside the brewery.

This was a smart choice, David

said.

“My father always said: ‘Beer

has food value, but food does not

have beer value,’” David said.”I

think one of the best things I

didn’t do was open a restaurant.”

Between wholesale purchases

and the tap room, Kulshan sells

about 205 gallons—or 13 kegs—per

day. Between 2012 and 2013, they

more than doubled the amount of

barrels brewed—increasing from

1,150 to 2,400. With such rapid

growth, David expects them to hit

upwards of 3,000 barrels in 2014.

Much of this success is due to

their wholesale production. In just

two years, Kulshan expanded its

reach to nearly 80 different restaurants

and stores across Whatcom

“I took a grungy old

empty building, made it

into a living room for the

neighborhood and put

people to work with jobs

they love.”

–David Vitt

and Skagit Counties. Customers

can also take home kegs and

growlers, as part of their unique

“growlers to go” program in which

they clean, sanitize, and refill

their customer’s growlers using a

counter-pressure filling machine

that keeps beer fresh and fizzy for

weeks, rather than just hours.

Between steady growth and a

legion of loyal fans, David said

one accomplishment outshines the

rest.

“I’m most proud of what we’ve

been able to give back to the community,”

said David. “Not only

the donations and fundraisers, but

also the fact that I took a grungy

old empty building, made it into a

living room for the neighborhood

and put people to work with jobs

they love.”

Kulshan is just one part of an

ever-growing market. The U.S.

beer market is a $99 billion industry,

with craft beer taking in over

$10 billion annually—making it

the most rapidly growing segment

of the business. In fact, there are

more than 2,600 craft breweries

in the U.S., selling an estimated

13,235,000 barrels of beer and

providing more than 108,000 jobs.

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WHATCOMBUSINESSALLIANCE.COM | 33


Start-Up Business of the Year Finalist: Q Laundry

Colleen Unema, owner of Q Laundry, holds a clothes rack in the midst of her eco-friendly

laundry machines. (Photo by Joella Ortega)

An entirely new way to do

laundry: Q Laundry takes

efficiency and sustainability

to new heights

By Sherri Huleatt

For most people, the

Laundromat is a dreary

place known for harsh,

fluorescent lighting and

long hours spent staring at

various stages of the spin

cycle.

It’s hardly a place where you’d

consider ecological sensitivity

and the latest technology to

merge, or where you would expect

impromptu concerts from traveling

folk musicians. But that’s exactly

what Colleen Unema, Owner of Q

Laundry, has created.

Opening their doors a mere

10 months ago, in June 2013, Q

Laundry has turned the idea of the

average Laundromat on its head.

“We designed this business to

be as ecologically smart as possible,”

Unema said. “From the hot

water tanks, overhead LED lights,

air-flow, sunlight—all the way to

the machines themselves. We did

everything we could to ensure that

each washing machine and each

dryer runs as efficiently as possible.”

Unema also factored in the

efficiency of her customer’s time.

With advanced machines that

wash and dry in record time,

Unema says you can wash, dry,

and fold your clothes all within

one hour.

All of her machines also take

credit and debit cards and can

sync with smart phones so that

customers receive a text message

10 minutes before their load

finishes. Q Laundry, located on

Alabama Street in Bellingham,

also offers free WiFi, mending,

and minor alterations services, and

“drop and dash” laundry service.

After working as a teacher for

many years and getting her master’s

degree in Science Education,

Unema founded the company on a

loan and her savings, and now has

eight part-time employees.

Unema became interested in the

laundry industry because she saw

so many opportunities for innova-

34 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM


tion. “I kept saying, ‘I will push

until I find the ‘no go’ in terms of

equipment, sustainability, finances,

funding, location, and business

model,’” Unema said.”I just kept

researching, studying and pushing

the envelope.”

Q Laundry has grown every

“I kept saying, ‘I will push

until I find the ‘no go’

in terms of equipment,

sustainability, finances,

funding, location,

and business model,’”

Unema said.”I just kept

researching, studying and

pushing the envelope.”

month and is ahead of forecasts.

Unema’s goal is to build more Q

Laundries, and extend her environmentally-friendly

philosophy to

new communities.

More than anything, Unema

takes sincere pride in her community.

She said the customer

response has been “fabulous.”

Because of this, giving back has

been a major part of her business

model.

“We are proud to be part of the

community and neighborhood,”

Unema said. “We donate services

to Northwest Teen Services and

various community events, as well

as sponsor community events,

like Muds to Suds and Bellingham

Traverse.”

Unema also put a locals-first

policy to work while building the

Laundromat.

“This is the laundry that the

local boys built,” she said. “It was

incredible to watch all the different

trades and specialty contractors

build out the Q—they were all

vital to this project and I am so

proud of their work.”

Meet • Retreat• Dine

360.756.1005

The Chrysalis Inn & Spa

Keenan’s at the Pier

Me

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WHATCOMBUSINESSALLIANCE.COM | 35


Start-Up Business of the Year Finalist: Red Rokk Interactive

Owners Tyler Byrd (above) and his wife Ana envisioned creative digital applications to

marketing and advertising. (Photo courtesy of Red Rokk Interactive)

Red Rokk: An interactive approach

to creating a new image

By Joella Ortega

With technology

continuously

evolving, the face of

business is changing.

Advertising and marketing

is moving online and with

it sales are skyrocketing

as more people are able

to connect to different

markets all over the world

for their individual needs.

Red Rokk Inc. is one local business

that has taken advantage of

technology by revolving their line

of work around it.

Tyler Byrd, Red Rokk CEO and

president, and Ana Sophia Byrd

own Red Rokk, which has been in

business since 2011.

“We are a full-service marketing

and advertising agency that

specializes in developing creative

digital media campaigns targeted

“Because we are the

market, we know the

market. We live the

market.”

towards consumers between the

ages of 18-40 years old,” Byrd

said. “This means we do everything

from marketing strategy to

video production, website development

and corporate branding.”

With Red Rokk being so interactive,

a majority of their business

comes from outside of Whatcom

County, Byrd said. In three years

of business, Red Rokk has served

clients all over the world; including

places such as South Korea

and Europe.

“Due to the nature of our

industry, we tend to work with

customers across a wide range of

industries,” Byrd said. “As a young

company, we really find our niche

is working with companies that

market to consumers between the

ages of 18-40 years old.”

Red Rokk is comprised of

employees that fit its demographic,

Byrd said. Because the company

aims to reach a younger demographic

it consists of workers

within its intended demographic.

“Because we are the market, we

know the market,” Byrd said. “We

live this market. As young professionals,

we get bombarded every

day with advertising; we play with

all the new gadgets entering the

market and at heart, we are passionately

creative.”

This way, Byrd and his employees

know what consumers are

interested in, will pay attention to,

and share. This inside knowledge

helps Red Rokk achieve customer

satisfaction, Byrd said. Using analytics,

the team is able to track

what is working, what needs to be

adjusted, and in which areas campaigns

could improve.

Even after their success, Red

Rokk retains its humble philosophy:

Work hard for your customers

and they will love you. Though

Red Rokk has focused on fulfilling

their customers’ goals, they also

focus on building the right team

to bring their clients ideas to fruition.

“When you have a great team,

and you work really hard for your

customers,” Byrd said. “Your customers

will see that, and appreciate

it. This leads to not only a

great portfolio and referrals, but

also pride in what you do.”

Choosing the right people for

the team makes a difference, Byrd

said.

And choosing the right people

has proven effective for Red Rokk.

With their team they have created

a successful local business.

But the adventure doesn’t stop

there. Over the next five years Red

Rokk has the goal of making INC

Magazine’s 500 list, Byrd said. The

strive for greatness is just beginning.

36 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM


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Small Business of the Year Finalist: Innovations for Quality Living

family members serve homeowners,

home-builders, and contractors

in Whatcom, Skagit, San Juan,

Island, and Snohomish counties.

Besides the original Sundance

Spas, most sales are in new construction.

Such sales include wood

burning, gas, electric and pellet

fireplaces and the largest selection

of gas, infrared, charcoal and pellet

BBQ grills and accessories in

Whatcom County.

Understanding those customers

is key to sustaining the business,

Thramer said.

“It’s about continuing to follow

customers’ needs and wants to

stay successful.” he said.

But the real accomplishment for

Jerry was creating something for

his sons’ families.

Owner Jerry Thramer (left) stands with his son Ryan Thramer, who serves as treasurer at

Innovations for Quality Living. (Photo by Joella Ortega)

It’s all in the name

A story of innovation, opportunity, and family… Oh yes, and

hot tubs and fireplaces.

By Steven Hortegas


Innovations” is more

than the first word in

the company name. It is a

way of life for Innovations

for Quality Living owners

Jerry and Kathy Thramer.

Consider how Thramer got his

first hot tub: “It was the 80s, and

hot tubs were very popular. But

Kathy didn’t want one, and the

company I worked for didn’t want

to carry them,” he said. “So when

a spa business offered us the business

at next to nothing, we purchased

it and I brought home a

hot tub on day one.”

From there it was one innovation,

opportunity, and family decision

after the other.

That $20,000 purchase in

1989 has grown to more than

$2 million in retail, wholesale,

and e-commerce sales per year.

Thramer credits their real success

to wife Kathy. “We did not have

much money in the bank,” he said.

“When the owner of a motorcycle

shop on James Street decided to

retire and offered us the building,

I was against it, but Kathy pushed

me. That was a bold step, but it

gave us a real store. From then

on, we were more professional and

visible.”

Innovations stayed afloat during

hard economic times by

purchasing with cash and avoiding

interest charges. To this day,

Innovations has still never taken

on debt.

“We never had a big boat or

camper,” Thramer said. “Instead,

[we] plowed our money back into

the business.”

Innovations’ 12 employees and

“I am not the type of

person who says I built

a business and it has to

stay on forever…But I love

being here with my sons

and their families and

having something where

they can make a living.”

–Jerry Thramer

“I am not the type of person

who says I built a business and it

has to [last]forever,” Thramer said.

“But I love being here with my

sons and their families, and having

something they can make a

living [with].”

Manager RyanThramer likes it

too. “We like working with Jerry,

and enjoy going out to dinner a

couple times a week as a family.”

Jerry said he is all about innovating,

opportunities, and especially

family.

“It’s just nice to see everyone,

every day.”

38 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM


Small Business of the Year Finalist: Rice Insurance

A five-partner ownership group operates the 52-person Rice Insurance group: Owners

James Fritts (top left) and Roger Chamberlin (top right); (bottom left-to-right) Troy

Haskell, Greg Gudbranson, and Tim Dickerson. (photo by Joella Ortega)

Doubling down

Rice Insurance sustains growth while

creating local jobs

By Pam Bauthues

With sustained growth

in recent years, Rice

Insurance LLC doesn’t

plan on slowing down.

And they have their work

cut out for them—with

the goal of doubling their

sales in the next five years,

they plan to keep their

workforce primarily in

the Whatcom area while

expanding business both

locally and beyond.

“Our core business is made up

of both commercial and personal

insurance and we are historically a

generalist. Most all of our growth

outside Whatcom and Skagit

Counties has been niche business

in the healthcare, real estate,

construction, and manufacturing

industries,” said James Fritts, who

currently owns Rice Insurance

along with Greg Gubranson, Tim

Dickerson, Troy Haskell, and Roger

Chamberlin.

Rice Insurance was founded

as a family business, and now

involves second-generation family

members. “Clyde Rice originally

started this company with the

intent on serving the people of

Whatcom County with honesty,

integrity, and a pursuit of creating

a better experience for the community,”

Fritts said.

Their aggressive, outside-thebox

growth strategy includes

workforce growth of over 35

percent in the past year, which

generated a need for a main

office remodel and two additional

leased spaces. Rice Insurance

has also added an internship

program for college students.

Their first intern was given a job

directly out of school, and their

two current interns plan to begin

work full time after graduation.

Rice Insurance currently has 52

employees, 49 of which are local.

About 80 percent of current

business is within Whatcom and

Skagit Counties. However, out-ofstate

business accounts for about

25 percent of new business—

comparable to the amount of new

business coming from these two

counties. The other half of new

business comes from other counties

in the state of Washington.

Fritts attributes Rice Insurance’s

success to their new and existing

employees’ drive, work ethic, and

willingness to buy into a culture

that doesn’t accept complacency.

“Our goal is to continue to

expand our presence here

locally but at the same

time continue to change

and innovate so we can

expand nationally as well.”

–James Fritts, Partner, Rice Insurance

“[We] focused on bringing new

ideas to the insurance industry,

which at times has lacked the ability

to accept change, technology,

and innovation,” Fritts said.

Moving forward, Rice Insurance

plans to build off their current

growth. Within the past year, commercial

sales grew 30 percent and

overall sales grew 20 percent. The

company plans to keep the majority

of their sales force in Whatcom

County—creating jobs and sustaining

a profitable bottom line.

“Our goal is to continue to

expand our presence locally, but at

the same time continue to change

and innovate so we can expand

nationally as well,” Fritts said.

40 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM


Small Business of the Year Finalist: Scholten’s Equipment

Duane Scholten, owner, sits behind the wheel of one of the company’s Kubota vehicles in the recently-built shop housing Scholten’s agricultural

equipment. (Photo by Joella Ortega)

Building a company from scratch

Manufacturers award Scholten based on reputation with customers

By Lydia Love

Duane Scholten wanted

to be a farmer. He

loved driving tractors

while working at a dairy

in Sumas. Later in life, he

began tinkering with the

equipment and buying and

selling tractors. According

to Scholten, the rest is

history.

Duane and Arlene Scholten

started Scholten’s Equipment, Inc.

in 1980. Today, more than 30

years later, they have 31 full-time

employees between their Lynden

and Burlington facilities, and they

cater to dairy customers and agricultural

needs.

A big achievement for the company

this past year was finishing

the new 10,200-square-foot

building in Lynden, Scholten said.

The building houses equipment of

various sizes, acting as a shop for

merchandise.

“We had our company dinner in

it a couple weeks ago,” Scholten

said. “The spouses were all surprised

how nice it was for a shop!”

In 2013, Scholten’s Equipment

sales grew to $19 million, Scholten

said.

“We are more productive today,”

Scholten said. “Considering we

are the only dealer in town [who]

started from scratch and without a

major line, that sales level is very

respectful.”

“In our business if you sell

five of anything in a year

you are beaming! In 2005,

we sold [more than] 90

mini excavators!”

–Duane Scholten, President,

Scholten’s Equipment, Inc.

At the Burlington location,

2,250-square-feet has been added

to the space since 2004. That

facility is now 7,500-square-feet

covering four acres, Scholten said.

42 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM


With their space growing, the

company is able to reach more

customers.

The customer base for

Scholten’s Equipment, Inc. remains

mostly in Whatcom and Skagit

Counties, but the company’s reach

extends farther.

“We have significant customer

numbers in lower B.C., Northwest

Oregon, and Eastern Washington,”

Scholten said.“Wherever there are

pockets of dairy farmers.”

One of the proudest achievements

the company has seen so

far is the product lines they’ve

been awarded to carry, Scholten

said. Other dealers want to carry

products from lines like Kubota,

JCB, and Claas, but Scholten’s

Equipment, Inc. was awarded the

lines based on their reputation

with customers.

“That was a huge feather in our

cap and still is,” Scholten said.

Claas is a German agricultural

equipment company that had no

presence in the area until they

started carrying the line in 2004,

Scholten said. Claas has since been

one of their best-selling products,

accounting for 80 percent market

share in 2011, Scholten said.

Kubota equipment was new

to North America as well, and

Scholten said they jumped in with

both feet.

“You have to understand, in our

business if you sell five of anything

in a year you are beaming,”

he said.“In 2005, we sold [more

than] 90 mini excavators.”

In 1980, Scholten started

the company with nothing. He

received his first loan from Rainier

Bank in Lynden and paid more

than 20 percent interest rate. From

nothing, they now have more than

9,000 customers on their mailing

list from the U.S. and Canada.

“It appears 2014 is going to

be very good for us,” Scholten

said.“Milk prices are at all-time

highs, [and] feed prices are lower;

2014 should be a record year for

us.”

AFTER 50 YEARS, WE’RE

STILL SERIOUSLY EXCITED

ABOUT NUMBERS

Even after 50 years, one thing is for sure:

Metcalf Hodges remains dedicated to delivering

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More than a financial and tax compliance firm,

we play an active role in helping small to

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Reach more than 50,000 leaders

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MAGAZINE

The Publication of The Whatcom Business Alliance

WHATCOMBUSINESSALLIANCE.COM | 43


Small Business of the Year Finalist: The Willows Inn on Lummi Island

Award-winning Chef Blaine Wetzel (left) and Managing Partner John Gibb have created nationwide appeal for a getaway and premier

dining experience. (Staff Photo)

Willows Inn places Lummi Island, Whatcom

County in national spotlight with a $3 million

year and stack of awards

By Business Pulse Staff

Last year the Willows

Inn on Lummi Island

and its widely-acclaimed

restaurant attracted more

than 3,000 guests and

grossed almost $3 million

– up from about $2.67

million in 2012. Moreover,

The Willows Inn likely

received more national

(and some international)

media attention than

any other attraction in

Whatcom County, except

perhaps Mt. Baker.

While revenue rose into the

black, the company’s managing

partner, John Gibb, said the

horizon looks even sunnier. “Our

advanced bookings are up 35 percent

over last year,” he said. “After

significant growth last year, we

expect to top $3 million this year.

“We have saved a legacy (the

inn is 104 years old) and created

more than 40 jobs.”

This occurred over just a twoyear

period since Gibb, the head

chef Blaine Wetzel, and an investment

group kept the doors open in

November 2011 by purchasing the

Willows Inn. The business soared

on the impetus from numerous

consecutive press raves, jumpstarted

by The New York Times

listing the restaurant as one of 10

places in the world worth flying to

for dinner.

Every food specialty publication

of note – Travel & Leisure,

Conde Nast, Bon Appetit, Food &

Wine, et al – and all the major

travel, recreation, and dining sites

on the Internet, a list too long for

44 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM


this space, and specialty publications

Modern Farmer and Outdoor

Magazine have printed glowing

articles and rankings of No. 1 this,

and Top 10 that.

What’s all the fuss about? Food

and Wine named Wetzel, 28, a

Top New Chef in 2012 and last

month he became a semifinalist

as a Rising Star Chef (chefs under

30) in the most prestigious recognition

bestowed in the industry,

the James Beard Award – for the

fourth year in a row. (Last year he

advanced as one of five nominees

for that award.)

All this for Wetzel’s creations

for a once-a-night seating of less

than 40, counting a 10-seat private

dining room, in a tiny old

inn on a tiny island (pop. about

900) at $165 a person for a farmto-table

array of 15 to sometimes

more than 20 servings.

Wetzel and Gibb are ownership

partners in the inn’s operations

that include two other Lummi

Island eateries, the Beach Store

Café and the Taproot Café.

“A group of families were concerned

that this long-time, iconic

local business would close,” Gibb

said, “and an emerging good story

“We saved a legacy….

took over a business losing

half-a-million, retained

the jobs (44), retained and

enhanced the reputation,

while turning it around

and making it profitable.”

–John Gibb, co-owner/managing partner,

The Willows Inn on Lummi Island

(the arrival of Blaine as a chef in

his 20s from the world’s top-rated

restaurant, Noma in Copenhagen,

Denmark) and many jobs would be

lost in Whatcom County.”

He described the situation thus:

“We took over a business losing

half-a-million, we retained the

jobs (44 employees currently), and

retained and enhanced the reputation,

while turning it around and

making it profitable. We didn’t

slash costs or employees, and in

fact did exactly the opposite, and

that’s very difficult to do in this

business.”

Though visitors come largely

from afar, The Willows Inn

remains loyal in every way possible

to the island community where

most of the employees reside. The

restaurants all have contributed

to island nonprofit organizations,

such as the Boys & Girls Club, the

Grange, the Heritage Land Trust,

and others.

To expand business, Gibb said,

the staff will create a new line of

food goods in the Taproot and gift

shop. “Our own amenities, complementary

to our theme,” he said,

“such as canned and preserved

items that maximize what the

island and county have to offer.”

WHATCOMBUSINESSALLIANCE.COM | 45


Lifetime Achievement Award: Dan Washburn, CEO, Windermere Real Estate/Whatcom

Dan Washburn at his desk on West Bakerview in Bellingham, the home office for Windermere Real Estate in the county.

The guiding credo for a sterling career:

Family first, business second

Article & photos by Mike McKenzie

Dan Washburn, highly

pleased about an

impulsive trip to New

Jersey he’d just come back

from, placed some of the

blue-and-green swag from

that trip on his desk for

a photo shoot. Seahawks’

stuff.

He grew up in Seattle, lived

and worked in that area until

purchasing the Bellingham/

Whatcom County agency rights

for Windermere Real Estate in

1995, and he holds season tickets.

He and a friend, after having sold

their Super Bowl tickets, couldn’t

resist the lure of the possibilities

that became reality.

They went on line and found

flights three days before kickoff,

and tickets in the end zone

seats toward which the first

snap of the game sailed over

Peyton Manning’s head and into

Seahawks’ lore forevermore.

Impulsive fun fits into

Washburn’s family-centered life

style, involving his three children

and 11 grandchildren with his wife

of 47 years and business partner,

Sharon.

But strategic planning, Servant

Leadership style, and methodical

growth initiatives surface in an

X-ray of his record of business

success and community service.

On an earlier day at his

desk in the 10,000-square-foot

Windermere spread on West

46 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM


Washburn Box Score:

Dan Washburn, Owner, Windermere Real Estate/Whatcom

Track record:

• University of Washington (’67),

Accounting

• 1974-’79 IBM

• 1979-‘91: Exec. VP/equity partner,

William Dieriekx Co., office machines,

that grew from 20-25 employees and

approx. $3M annual sales to 400-plus

employees and $60M-$70M. Sold to

IKON (’86).

• 1991-’94: Co-owner/CEO, Image Tech,

copy machine distributor. Sold to

Ricoh.

• 1995-present: , Windermere Real

Estate for Bellingham/Whatcom

County, grown from approx. 25 agents

and 5 percent market share to around

150 agents and nearly 40 percent

market share in dollar volume, with

almost $700M in sales last year.

• Windermere dominates both

commercial and home markets, and

also includes a property management

division. Last year about 900 homes

sold in Whatcom County at $400,000

or more; Windermere sold about 48

percent of those.

Professional and community:

Past President of Realtors Assoc.; past

Board of Directors and present Board

of Governors, Whatcom Boys & Girls

Clubs; Windermere community service

day annually; Windermere Foundation

($30,000 distributed last year); Hospice

and PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center;

Young Life; Northlake Community Church,

with main causes of children, shelter and

care for single mothers and their children.

Business philosophies:

“We’re built on God, family, and team

principles. We’re a business on the ascent

with a fairly aggressive growth model.

Everybody wants to be on the winning team

and make a good income. Our management

style (follows) the principle of Servant

Leadership…we in management serve those

who best influence the customer experience

– our front office staff, and our agents.

They are our (management’s) customers.”

The Windermere Way:

“You’ll never see us advertise being No. 1.

We just go about being No. 1. No charts,

no contests, no ‘agent of the month’….we

never recognize one agent at the expense

of another. That fosters an atmosphere

of sharing among our agents. (And) We

focus on giving back to the community,

corporately and individually.”

Bakerview Road in Bellingham,

he spoke of values and operating

principles that foster positive relationships

and results with family,

staff, affiliated sales agents, customers,

and community.

Washburn’s achievements in

business over the last four decades

mounted around ownership stakes

in three businesses, including the

Windermere agency hereabouts

during the last 19 years. Just as he

has with Windermere, Washburn

guided the other two small companies

to exceptional performance

levels – both within the office

machines industry in hometown

Seattle – and then sold them to

huge corporations.

Planned, purposeful.

But impulse has had its place,

too. He shared two quick-decision

business transactions that became

fundamental lessons early on for

his operational methods in dealing

with customers. They took

place within a few weeks of each

other when he was a partner and


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WHATCOMBUSINESSALLIANCE.COM | 47


Lifetime Achievement Award: Dan Washburn, CEO, Windermere Real Estate/Whatcom

executive officer with the William

Dierickx Company that eventually

sold to IKON Office Solutions (Pa.)

during the mid-‘80s.

The positive lesson, of his telling:

“We were small, like 20-25

employees, about $3 million in

annual sales, and growing. At a

time when Xerox would only sell

to smaller companies, and would

lease only to big companies, a little

company in Bellevue with eight

employees was just getting started

and wanted to rent its office

machines. Xerox had a monopoly

on plain paper copiers, but their

patent had run out…(and) we

were getting in on the revolution,

the Japanese invasion of Canon,

Ricoh, Minolta, Sharp.

next decade we were the exclusive

office equipment sales and maintenance

company for Microsoft. We

sold them thousands of copiers,

and then when fax machines came

in, we sold them thousands of fax

machines.”

Barely a couple of weeks later,

the negative lesson:

“This little company in Kent

bought one of our first plain-paper

copiers, a Canon 200. About three

months later, Canon nationally ran

a promotion (for) a $200 rebate.

“That was a manufacturer’s

inducement to sell new copiers

(and) receive the $200 to pass

along to the customer. I get a call

from this gentleman who said, ‘Mr.

Washburn, I saw in the newspaper

where I’m entitled to a $200 rebate

for the copier we just recently purchased.’

“I told him, ‘If you were to

order a copier now, I could put

the serial number down for sales

beginning now, but not for a sale

three months ago.’

“(At) IBM, I learned about

their whole environment.

Turns out, it’s where I

felt I fit best. It’s funny,

friends said, ‘You’ll have to

wear dark suits and white

shirts and neckties.’ I said,

‘Yeah, good – I love that.’

—Dan Washburn, CEO of Windermere Real

Estate in Bellingham/Whatcom County

“We decided, OK, let’s do it.

I went to a stationery store and

bought some rental contract forms,

pasted our logo on one, and ran a

copy of it. We put in some dollar

figures, and as our sales manager

was going out the door, I said,

‘Make sure that the owner signs

this, that he’s guaranteeing that

we’re going to get paid.’

“Turns out, that owner was a

25-year-old named Bill Gates.”

“We had no idea who Bill Gates

was, or Microsoft, but because

Xerox stiffed him and our company

honored that agreement, for the

48 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM


Sharon and Dan Washburn on career planning: “It’s always

been focused on continuity for our family.”

“And he said, ‘Well, Mr.

Washburn, you have a decision to

make. You can give us $200, or we

won’t do business in the future.’ I

told him that I’d love to, but we

didn’t have the $200 to do that.

“This turns out to be Howard

Lincoln.”

Lincoln was the CEO of

Nintendo USA. Now he’s the

chairman and CEO of the Seattle

Mariners baseball team. “That

$200 was a big deal for our little

company just starting out; it made

sense to me, and it didn’t make

sense to this guy who was pushing

me. But I’ve never made that mistake

again.”

When Washburn graduated

from the University of Washington

in accounting, he had no foreshadowing

of his eventual business

career. IBM altered his path.

“At first thought I’d be a CPA

(certified public accountant),” he

said. “As I was interviewing for

that and thinking about a career, I

interviewed with IBM and learned

about their whole environment.

Turns out, it’s where I

felt I fit best.”

He said friends kidded

him about having

to wear dark suits and

white shirts and neckties.

“I said, ‘Yeah,

good – I love that.’

Plus, it was a great

place to learn your

trade, and learn how

to sell in a very professional,

relationshiporiented

approach at

the highest level.”

IBM would have

paved his way to

corporate management,

he said if he’d

been willing to move

around the country.

For example, they

offered him a position

in Buffalo, N.Y.

“My wife,” he said,

“told me, ‘Fine, if you

want to do that, but

it’s going to be a long commute

for you.’ Early in our marriage we

learned to make decisions through

discussion and mutual agreement.

We agreed it was best to keep our

family in Seattle. As far as a business

or career plan, it’s always

been focused on continuity for our

family.”

After five years at IBM he

accepted an equity position with

a printing firm William Dierickx

Company in 1979. It flourished on

Canon’s back in the copier market,

and in 1986 an East Coast corporation

bought it and renamed it

IKON. Washburn stayed on, and

during his 12 years with the company

the staff grew to exceed 400,

and sales mounted to a $60-$70

million peak, he said.

Another partnership opportunity

arose with an established small

company that the group renamed

Image Tech, a photo-copy machine

distributor, with a goal of growing

it. About four years in, Ricoh

bought it in 1994.

By then, the Washburns had

empty-nest syndrome, and felt a

pull towards Bellingham. It was

familiar turf, as both daughters

and their son had graduated from

Western. Plus Dan had attended

one year there, and the area later

had been part of his IBM territory.

Their oldest daughter married

a Bellingham policeman, and the

first of 11 Washburn grandchildren

was born here. So, logically,

with the family plan leading the

business plan, Washburn sought

a way to start anew here. He

met Jim Shapiro, the president

Dan Washburn made two

decisions early in his first

business that taught him

strong lessons. Both were

in dealings with young,

small business owners

named Gates and Lincoln.

One ended very well, one

not so much.

of Windermere’s Seattle-based

regional real estate giant, who

introduced him to multiple-agency

owner Craig Shriner. He had the

Windermere rights to Whatcom

County. Washburn bought threefourths

of that franchise in 1995,

and the rest in `99.

Statistically, the spread of local

Windermere from its home in

Bellingham to four other locations

– sales agencies in Fairhaven,

Blaine, and Lynden, and an outlet

in Bellis Fair Mall – as this

region’s real estate leader reveals

a remarkable story. Steadily it has

carved out the highest numbers in

the industry. (See boxed insert)

But big numbers, always

impressive, don’t do justice to

the larger story of the culture

within and the outreach of the

WHATCOMBUSINESSALLIANCE.COM | 49


Lifetime Achievement Award: Dan Washburn, CEO, Windermere Real Estate/Whatcom

Windermere operations. Both individually

and collectively, reflective

of both the parent company’s

and Washburn’s core values,

Windermere lends high energy

and dollars to causes for homeless,

single mothers, and children

throughout the county. And, the

Windermere Foundation flourishes

through receiving a percentage of

every home sales commission.

Washburn’s children became

involved in Young Life while

in school, and Dan has been

involved neck-deep in that organization,

as well as Boys & Girls

Clubs of America. He’s served

on the Whatcom Clubs’ board

of directors, and now sits on the

fund-raising Board of Governors.

And, the Washburns are active

with many activities in hospice,

PeaceHealth St. Joseph

Medical Center, and at Northlake

Community Church.

“Sharon and I have always

done things together,” Dan said.

“In this business we’re co-owners.

She’s not a real-estate agent,

but she’s always taking care of

things around the office, taking

care of staff, and the like.” The

Washburn’s son, Rob, and oldest

daughter, Danielle, have a role in

the family’s Windermere operation.

The youngest daughter, Deidre,

resides in Carnation, Wash.

The impression clearly is that,

as foreign as real estate was to

Dan Washburn, the somewhatimpulsive

plunge into it has

worked to near perfection.

“We looked at different opportunities,

some retail, but nothing

really matched what I could bring

to the table in expertise until this,”

Washburn said. “Even though

I’d never sold real estate, I’d run

sales organizations. It’s the same,

really – dealing with sales people

creatively, setting a platform for

success, marketing, motivating and

leading. I felt I could add value.”

Planned and purposefully…

During Washburn’s 17 years with Windermere, the business has sold more than 17,000

homes in excess of $6 billion – more than double the next real-estate competitor in the

county in both categories.

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CHEERS &

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to all of the

2014 WBA & BusinessPulse

Nominees and Winners !


Where Are They Now?

Since then he has remained

as the president of Barkley

Company and he said it was

an honor receiving his past

award.

Retirement may be in

the not-so-distant future

for Kochman but it’s still at

least seven to 10 years away,

if not longer, he said.

“The success of Barkley

Village has a lot to do with

pursuing opportunity when

it presents itself and getting

support from key partners in

executing a plan,” Kochman

said. “We have done a good

job of this and it is something

I hope to see us continue

to do.”

Jeff Kochman (left) of Barkley Company, the 2012 Business Person of the Year, and Tony

Larson of the Whatcom Business Alliance. (Staff Photo)

Where are they now?

Catching up with some

past winners

By Joella Ortega

As we enter the 28th

year of the Whatcom

County Business Person

of the Year Awards, we

thought it would be

interesting to follow up

with some of the previous

Whatcom County business

award winners in different

categories to see what they

are doing now. Following

are some highlights from

our conversations with past

winners.

Jeff Kochman, Barkley

Company, Business

Person of the Year

2011

Jeff Kochman has been the head

of the Barkley Company for 17

years.

“Barkley Company develops

and manages Barkley Village,”

Kochman said. “[It] also provides

support of various local nonprofit

organizations.”

Kochman received the Business

Person of the Year award in 2011.

Gary’s Men’s &

Women’s Wear

In 1995 Gary’s Men’s

& Women’s Wear won the

Small Business of the Year

award.

“That helped recognize

us as a locally owned, small business,”

said Gary Lupo, owner of

Gary’s Men’s & Women’s Wear.

“That award helped us continue

what we had already worked very

hard to establish.”

Lupo and his wife, Barbara,

have owned their retail store for

36 years. The couple has considered

retirement but Gary Lupo said

they enjoy what they do too much

to leave their business behind.

“We’re closer to the end of our

run than we are to the middle

of our run,” he said. “It’s in the

future but it’s not tomorrow. It’s

important we have a place to go

in the community, we like what

we do, and we think it’s valuable.”

Through the business Lupo has

gained friends in the Whatcom

community – customers that Lupo

said he’s been selling to for his

entire 36 years in the business.

“It’s important to be trusted. We

like what we do and we like being

a part of people’s clothing lives.”

52 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM


Gary’s clothing store in downtown Bellingham was the Small Business of the Year almost

two decades ago, and since has added top-brand women’s wear to the original men’s lines.

(Staff Photo)

If an 18 year old penniless

immigrant can dream big

you can too.

LaserPoint Awards &

Promotional Solutions,

Start-Up Business of

the Year 1997

In 1997 when LaserPoint

Awards & Promotional Solutions

took home the start-up award the

Kathy and Randy Cross’s Start-Up of the

Year 17 years ago, Laser Point Awards, has

blossomed to a customer list exceeding

400 a year.

(Photo courtesy of Laser Point Awards)

company had only a few customers

making up a small amount

of accounts, owner Randy Cross

said. Now, LaserPoint has grown

to more than 400 customers annually.

“We are a full-service promotional

company,” Cross said.

“Promotional products of every

kind, style for branding and promotion

for any business, organization,

or club.”

Though their accounts have

skyrocketed since the time of their

award, Cross intends to continue

growing the business.

For Cross and his wife, Kathy,

winning the award meant more

than just honor and recognition; it

was a validation of all the struggle

they had put into their business.

“Our hard work was validated

by our community,” Cross said.

“This award gave us credibility.

It was a big boost to us as a new

venture.”

With the huge load of orders

and customers, Randy and Kathy

still strive to remain humble and

level-headed as they look back at

what brought them success.

“Kathy and I want to thank

all of our wonderful customers

This book traces the business journey

of well known local business man Sid

Baron from his childhood to the

present. Having lived in Whatcom

County all of his adult life Baron has

started many businesses including

radio station KLYN-FM (now KWPZ),

cofounded Exxel Pacific Construction

and others. In March of 2008 he was

awarded the coveted Lifetime

Achievement Award by Business Pulse

Magazine.

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Where Are They Now?

Rud Browne (File Photo)

who have continued to support

us through 17 years,” Cross said,

adding that they look forward to

another decade with the Whatcom

community.

Rud Browne, Ryzex Inc.,

Business Person of the

Year 2004

Ryzex began in newly elected

Whatcom County Council member

Rud Browne’s apartment in

1989. It grew into a multinational,

mobile technologies solution company

that operated in five different

countries.

Ryzex grew from zero to $7

million in annual revenue and

created a grand total of 360 jobs,

with 140 of those positions based

in Whatcom County, Browne

said. Due to his professional

accomplishment, Browne won the

Business Person of the Year award

in 2004.

Browne sold Ryzex in 2011 to

Peak Technologies; the combination

company is now known as

Peak-Ryzex and has operations in

multiple markets. But just because

Browne sold Ryzex doesn’t mean

he stopped creating jobs for himself

or Whatcom County.

“I am currently the founder and

CEO of Ryanna LLC,” Browne said.

Ty McClellan co-owns the family business Hardware Sales, the Small Business award-winner

in 1997, along with his retired aunt, Ladonna George, and Ty’s father, Jerry, who still

works part-time at the iconic Bellingham store. (Staff Photo)

“It’s a local company focused on

supporting other entrepreneurs

and innovative business models.”

Browne said winning the award

was one of the highlights of his

career.

“Winning the award raised our

profile locally,” Browne said. “I

hope to be able to bring my experience

in business to my new role

as a Whatcom County Council

member, and help others living in

our wonderful community achieve

their dreams as well.”

Stowe Talbot for

Jim Talbot, Lifetime

Achievement Award in

1998

Jim Talbot won the Lifetime

Achievement Award in 1998 for

his work with Bellingham Cold

Storage and Talbot Industries. He

was unavailable for comment, and

Stowe Talbot, his son, answered

interview questions in his place.

“I think the award got people

interested in what Jim and his

father had accomplished for

Bellingham since the 1940s.”

Stowe Talbot said. “Both

Bellingham Cold Storage and

Barkley Village have continued to

grow and prosper.”

In recent years Jim was diagnosed

with Alzheimer’s Disease. He

has been in a memory care facility

in Bellingham since 2007. He

passed the company to his son and

daughter, Stowe and Jane Talbot,

in 2000. He remained involved

with the company for the next few

years.

“The award was especially gratifying

to him because it acknowledged

his contributions to this

community, for which he cared so

much,” Stowe said. “I was happy

that he received that recognition.”

54 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM


Award Winners History

Business Person of the Year

1986 Don Haggen, Haggen Foods

1987 Dick Metcalf, Metcalf Hodges

1988 Mike Brennan, Bellingham/Whatcom Chamber of Commerce

1989 Fielding Formway, Arco Cherry Point

1990 Hal Arnason Jr., Arnason Realtors

1991 Sid Baron, Exxel Pacific

1992 Jim Wynstra, Homestead, Inc.

1993 Don Stern, Homax, Inc.

1994 Jody Bergsma, Bergsma Galleries

1995 Jim Frederick, Intalco Aluminum

1996 Peggy Zoro, Key Bank

1997 Glenn Butler, Arco Cherry Point Refinery

1998 Dean Shintaffer, Sound Beverage

1999 Craig Cole, Brown and Cole Foods

2000 Peter Paulson, Hotel Bellwether

2001 Ray Caldwell, Little Caesars Pizza

2002 Elizabeth Grant, Stewart Title

2003 Larry Wickkiser, Airporter Shuttle

2004 Rud Browne, Ryzex, Inc.

2005 Nick Kaiser Saturna Capital

2006 Larry Weiber, Aluminum Chambered Boats

2007 Dale Henley, Haggen Foods

2008 Scott Walker, Walkers Carpet

2009 Wes Herman, Woods Coffee

2010 John Ferlin, Brooks Manufacturing

2011 Jeff Kochman, Barkley Company

2012 Bob Pritchett, Logos Bible Software

2013 ???

Small Business of the Year

1990 Lehmann and Sons

1991 Ferndale Drug

1992 Il Fiasco

1993 International Athletic

1994 Louis Auto Glass

1995 Gary’s Clothing

1996 Office Systems Northwest

1997 Hardware Sales

1998 Bakerview Nursery

1999 Bellingham Travel and Cruise

2000 McEvoy Oil

2001 Northwest Propane

2002 Brenthaven

2003 Absorption Corporation

2004 Andgar

2005 Northwest Computer

2006 Brambleberry

2007 Dewaard & Bode

2008 Credo Construction

2009 Fastcap

2010 Avenue Bread Company

2011 Chuckanut Bay Foods

2012 Vital Choice Seafood

2013 ???

Start-Up Business of the Year

1994 Bagel Factory

1995 Northwood Hall

1996 Merry Maids

1997 Laserpoint Awards

1998 Pastazza

1999 Laserjamb

2000 Siscosoft

2001 Chrysalis Inn and Spa

2002 Nuthouse Grill

2003 Aluminum Chambered Boats

2004 Emergency Reporting

2005 K&K Industries

2006 Fairhaven Candy Company

2007 Big Fat Fish Company

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2009 Reset Games

2010 Fat Cat Fish Company

2011 Infusion Solutions

2012 Next Level Training

2013 ???

Whatcom Business Lifetime Achievement Awards

1990 David Morse, Morse Hardware

1991 Hank Jansen, Lynden Transport

1992 Jack Cole, Brown and Cole, Inc.

1993 Red Haskell, Haskell Corporation

1994 Ira Yeager, Yeager’s Sporting Goods

1995 Ivor Allsop, Allsop, Inc.

1996 Chuck Wilder, Wilder Construction, Inc.

1997 Irwin LeCocq, Peoples Bank

1998 Jim Talbot, Bellingham Cold Storage, Barkley, Inc., Talbot

Industries

1999 Ann Jones, KGMI, KISM Radio

2000 Brian Griffin, Unity Insurance

2001 Don Haggen, Haggen Foods

2002 Alta McClellan, Hardware Sales

2003 Harold Walton, Walton Beverage

2004 Bob Diehl, Diehl Ford

2005 Hal Arnason Jr., Arnason-Miller Real Estate

2006 Ken Imus, Jacaranda Corp

2007 Jerry Chambers, Chambers Chevrolet

2008 Sid Baron, Exxel Pacific

2009 Jack Westford, Westford Funeral

Homes

2010 Dick Hempler, Hempler Meats

2011 Frank Imhof, IMCO Construction

2012 Nick Kaiser, Saturna Capital

2013 Dan Washburn, Windermere

Real Estate

BUSINESS PERSON

OF THE YEAR

WHATCOMBUSINESSALLIANCE.COM | 55


Where Are They Now?

Small Business of the

Year award: Hardware

Sales 1997

Ty McClellan is vice president

of Hardware Sales, a family-owned

company that Bellingham has

been home to for more than 50

years.

“Things have changed dramatically

with technology,” McClellan

said. “We have expanded into selling

online. With online sales we

can sell all over the world, [giving]

us greater buying power.”

McClellan took over for his

father and became vice president

of the company. He and his family

have no intention of selling the

company and Ty has no intention

of retiring anytime soon.

“We’ve got some lifelong goals

to build the company,” McClellan

said. “We’re having fun while

doing it and we’re going to continue

to grow.”

Despite now having a successful

online presence, Hardware Sales

was one of the few companies

that didn’t instantly cling to the

technological revolution. “We were

one of the last companies to get a

computer,” McClellan said.

He still looks fondly upon

receiving Small Business of Year

award 17 years ago. “It was quite

an honor being recognized by

the community,” McClellan said.

“There are a lot of businesses out

there to choose from and for us it

was absolutely incredible.”

He said that his family is proud

to remain family-owned and local

to the Bellingham community.

the Chrysalis Inn &

Spa: Start-Up Business

of the year 2001

The Chrysalis Inn & Spa opened

in April of 2001. Since the business

began, the surrounding area

has changed dramatically. The

boardwalk has been built and a

restaurant has been added to the

Chrysalis.

“The hotel consists of a spa and

restaurant,” owner Mike Keenan

said. “[There are] 128 employed. In

the spa alone we’ve contributed a

lot in jobs and over $600,000 [into

the local economy] between sales

and lodging tax.”

Keenan said that 2013 has been

the best year for the Chrysalis

since their opening. Fairhaven

traffic has increased the Chrysalis’

customer base, and liquor was

added to the menu options in the

restaurant.

“I’m not going to retire yet,”

Keenan said. “I still enjoy business

here and I have young kids

at home so I don’t want to leave

town.”

The Chrysalis is going well and

continuing to build itself up, as

2013 demonstrated. “We’re not in

business to win awards,” Keenan

said. “If they come along it means

we’re doing something right.

Business is rewarding, that’s why

we do it.”

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Industry Report – Golf In Whatcom County

Golf courses

in Whatcom

County report

upward trends

The Canadian dollar boosts play,

grow-the-game initiatives aim to

keep revenues rising

By Mike McKenzie


Photo courtesy of Sudden Valley Golf & Country Club


Industry Report – Golf In Whatcom County

Golf season in Whatcom

County will soon

awaken to Daylight

Savings Time, to warmer

weather, and to heavy

traffic on tee boxes,

fairways, greens, carved

dunes, and places out-ofbounds.

A good time to ask: How’s business?

The county is full-bloom with

golf courses. A baker’s dozen

courses criss-cross various meadows

and ex-farm or ranch land

and forests and housing developments

around the county. Many

get high praise from publications

that deem to rate golf courses.

But, are all 12 faring well?

Odds run against them in two

ways: generally, nationally, recreational

golf is in a slump; locally,

supply often exceeds demand. (A

number surfaces from somewhere

that compares Whatcom County

golf to King County golf. One hole

for every 750 residents here; One

for every 1600 there.)

A visit with some of the local

courses produced reports of

upward revenue trends and forecasts

and lots of optimism about

golfers reinvigorating the sport

hereabouts, with a boost from

creative marketing to kids, young

execs, women, seniors, and disabled.

60 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM

Nationwide, initiatives fly

around like wild tee shots. At the

annual trade show for the industry

in Orlando, Fla., to start this year

equipment manufacturing giant

Taylor Made put up $5 million

toward discovery of innovative

ways for golf course operations

to attract more golfers back to

the game. Taylor Made CEO Mark

King said, “Our game lacks innovation….new

ideas, new motivations,

new reasons to get off the

couch and play the game.”

In the Wall Street Journal

recently, golf columnist John

Paul Newport wrote: “At the U.S.

Golf Association’s annual meeting

(in Pinehurst, N.C.) incoming

President Thomas O’Toole Jr. sent

a good portion of his inaugural

remarks….(on) the desire of the

USGA to address some pressing

problems, in particular the slow

leakage in the number of golfers.”

Whatcom teaching pros

have revamped their junior

programs and tee boxes

to wake up the younger

set to the perceived joys

of golf, as well as other

players who cannot smash

the ball a mile.

The CEO of the National Golf

Foundation, Joe Beditz, cited that

the number of players between the

ages of 18-34 is down 30 percent

from a peak in the 1980s, dropping

from approximations of 30

million to 20 million in about 25

years.

The prevailing problems, all

seen somewhere in Whatcom

County’s golf landscape: too many

courses, fast greens, slow play,

and a dearth of places for kids and

other beginners to have affordable

fun while learning the game.

In asking around, we heard

many possible solutions to attract

customers and enhance business:

“Dumb down” the courses. Shorter

tee boxes for kids, other beginners,

women, seniors, and disabled

players. Changes in course maintenance

and turf management

(larger, less-treacherous greens,

less watering and other resources),

changes in handicapping, alternative

equipment choices, improving

the pace of play.

O’Toole said in his speech, “The

game has a significant legacy of

exclusion and elitism that we must

collectively work to overcome.”

Locally, one thing rang clearly

in responses from the persons running

the operations – O, Canada is

an anthem for Whatcom County

golf as well as the neighboring

nation. Even with the Canadian

dollar wobbling a bit, golfers

directly north know a bargain

when they see one.

We know this commonly

because of long lines of B.C.

citizens purchasing gas, milk, and

other commodities. The same goes

for golf on the cheap. Especially at

the public courses, and especially

at those closest to the border –

upward to 80 percent of business

at Dakota Creek Golf Club, a chip

shot south of the Blaine crossing.

Brian Kruhlak, director of

golf at Sudden Valley, himself a

Canadian who competed on scholarship

for the University of British

Columbia, said that golf up there

is “more expensive and less supplied.”

About half of his communityowned,

semi-private club memberships

belong to Canadians,

and about 60 percent of daily

play comprises Canadian golfers.

“Customer service is another

thing better for them down here,”

Kruhlak said. “I’ve experienced it,

and we hear it all the time from

friends up there in the golf business.

It’s the culture and environment.

The game is a bit more

stodgy in Canada, stemming from

the heritage of its roots in Great

Britain.”

Kruhlak also addressed the bigger

picture of Whatcom County


experiencing the same problem

as nationally – over-saturation.

“During the early-to-mid-‘90s, we

were adding 400 courses a year,”

Kruhlak said. “The National Golf

Foundation had put out the word

O, Canada is an anthem

for Whatcom County golf

as well as the neighboring

nation. Even with the

Canadian dollar wobbling

a bit, golfers directly north

know a bargain when they

see one.

along the way that we had to

open one course a day to meet the

demand, which was grossly overestimated.”

He and all the other Whatcom

teaching pros have revamped their

junior programs and tee boxes to

wake up the younger set to the

perceived joys of golf, as well as

other players who cannot smash

the ball a mile.

Revenue streams seem endless

at the golf courses: Greens fees,

tournament fees, club memberships,

corporate outings, cart and

club rental, locker rental, lessons,

pro shop merchandise, equipment,

food and beverage, residual amenities

(such as a workout facility,

swimming pool, sauna and/or

steamroom, etc.).

But another main point surfaced

– greens fees still pay the freight.

Number of rounds is the critical

number, and nobody reported

having hit critical mass. But the

industry locally appears to be at

a rallying point. Several of the

club pros and managers pointed

out that the ’08 economic slump

took a large bite because golfing

became dispensable, and corporate

outings disappeared.

Here’s a look at some figures

and trends at several Whatcom

County golf courses…

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WHATCOMBUSINESSALLIANCE.COM | 61


Industry Report – Golf In Whatcom County

Mike Montgomery (left), the director of golf, gives General Manager Trent McAllister some putting tips...their course hosted 45,000

rounds last year. (Staff Photo)

Bellingham Golf & Country Club

The Old Guard of local

golf, Bellingham Golf

and Country Club (founded

1912) has rallied gradually

over the last two years.

“Last year was a very

positive year,” said Trent

McAllister, who grew up

on the course and started

work at the club in 1988 as

a 12-year-old and worked

his way up to become the

general manager in 2010.

He reported more than 45,000

rounds played during 2013, and

profits up 10-12 percent.

The country-club model differs

from other county courses.

Bellingham G&CC is memberowned,

managed by a board of

directors, and golf provides only

about 40 percent of the business.

Dining for club members, banquets,

events, and catering makes

up about 40 percent. Club amenities

like swimming lessons, the

workout facility, and others earns

the rest.

Also, the club has fewer golfers

from Canada than most

other courses – about 8 percent,

McAllister estimated.

BG&CC foresaw a rosy and

robust future back in 2005. On

Valentine’s Day the demolition

crews razed the clubhouse, and

it reopened the next November

in grand style. “It provided a big

spark,” McAllister said. “We were

quite active, and the golf course

was full.”

Then 2008 happened, and the

club became more vulnerable than

most. “A country club is a luxury

item. It’s the common tale of private

clubs…the most expedient

thing to cut.”

The club added about 200

social/golf memberships attributable

to a “resurgence of young

executives, players under 40, that

we marketed to,” McAllister said.

That target market included a

reduction in monthly cost by more

62 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM


than $50 to $299. The club also

instituted a corporate program –

group pricing for a minimum of

four memberships at $199 each.

The equity certificate membership

remains $438.

BG&CC advertises golf widely

– Comcast, Golf Channel, CNN,

ESPN Sports Center, local radio –

but more for brand awareness as

reaping memberships. “Word of

mouth still drives 90-95 percent of

our business,” McAllister said.

Marketing events provide

residual revenue, like wine tasting,

cooking class, dinner dance,

and starlight dinner. “We set up

the restaurant on the course,”

McAllister said, and added, laughing.

“But not on a fairway.”

Mike Montgomery is director of

golf and head pro among three.

The golf staff also has a superintendent,

Dave Bocci, who has been

there 17 years, and eight course

attendants.

Montgomery revamped the

junior program from a three-day

camp to 14-16 days. On certain

Mondays, the tee boxes move forward

and only kids get to play the

course. “…Without the pressure

of adults wanting to play faster,”

Montgomery said. “We need more

areas for teens to play with appropriate

length.”

Montgomery probed the matter

of lagging interest by pushing

on traditional parameters. “We

must find ways to make it easier

for the everyday golfer and less

time-consuming,” he said. “Ask

ourselves things like, why play 18?

Why play four hours? Why not

an 8-inch hole (instead of 4.25)?

Why not two holes on every green

instead of the standard one?

“You have all different types of

golfers, so why not do things to

allow everyone to have fun at the

same time?”

He also sees diverse activities

cutting into golf. “I see people into

mountain biking, paddling boats,

triathlons, working out. Things

with no scorecard,” Montgomery

said.

“Golf has a brutal scorecard.

So how do we get from Point A

to Point B when you have a 15

handicap or higher and still have a

good workout?”

Why play 18? Why play

four hours? Why not an

8-inch hole (instead of

4.25)? Why not two holes

on every green instead of

the standard one?

—Mike Montgomery

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WHATCOMBUSINESSALLIANCE.COM | 63


Industry Report – Golf In Whatcom County

in the years leading up to 2008.

Since then the figure had risen to

43,000-45,000.

Generally, recreational golfers

speak of the course as the

most scenic public layout in the

county. “It’s tree-lined, with old

houses on it, like you can’t find

anymore,” Fish said. “It’s the best

buy for your golf dollar in western

Washington.”

The basic golf dollar for adults,

in peak season May-October, is

$32 weekday and $40 weekend.

Golfers can buy punch cards for

multiple rounds at a discount.

Golfing provides about

60 percent of the

revenue, and the rest

comes from the pro

shop merchandising

and equipment, lessons,

tournament events, and

other services. Canadians

make up about 30 percent

of the golf rounds.

Mel Fish arranges golf bags in the pro shop at the popular municipal course he and a

partner lease from the City of Bellingham, featuring a Men’s Club and a Golf School.

(Staff Photo)

Lake Padden Golf Course

Mel Fish, the director

of golf, operates this

city-owned, public course

with a management lease

contract that he and his

business partner, Barry

Kramer, negotiated with

Bellingham effective Jan.

1, 2006.

Lake Padden golf course opened

in 1971. Originally from Bellevue,

Fish came to Bellingham to attend

WWU (’75), and he has worked at

Lake Padden since 1990.

The course logged about 40,000

rounds during 2012. “Not a good

year,” Fish said. Lake Padden was

busy with 50,000 rounds at its

peak, and averaged about 45,000

On March 15 the Men’s Club

opens its season – 330 men paying

a $65 membership fee. “It keeps

this place open,” Fish said. The

group has 10 tournament events,

and course availability perks.

Golfing provides about 60 percent

of the revenue, and the rest

comes from the pro shop merchandising

and equipment, lessons,

tournament events, and other

services. Canadians make up about

30 percent of the golf rounds.

In 2000 Fish and a club member

built the Lake Padden Golf School

on the premises, operated by Luke

Bennett, the director of instruction.

He also is the head coach of

men’s golf at Western Washington.

“It’s a teaching facility, with an

office and meeting room, TV for

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video analysis, and the latest technology,”

Fish said.

To keep the clubhouse and

course active during Fall and

Winter, Lake Padden offers a

“Winter Golf Tour” developed and

run by Josh Fish, Mel’s son, a PGA

of America-certified club pro who

studied in the pro golf management

program at Campbell College

while playing on a baseball scholarship

there.

As many as 100 show up, but

normally between 40-70. “That

keeps them coming out all winter,

something to play for,” Mel Fish

said. “They win merchandise. It

helps revenue, and keeps them

from putting the clubs away all

winter.” Another fun date on Lake

Padden’s schedule is the Polar Bear

Open on New Year’ Day. About

100 enter, regardless of weather.

As a public course Lake

Padden’s round costs below the

average, and for a couple of other

reasons. Mel Fish explained, “A

condition of our contract with the

city is that we remain the most

affordable, inexpensive course

to play. It’s not written in the

contract, but we agreed to it in

principle, because I’d been playing

here for 20 years and didn’t

want all the players I knew to see

me as suddenly owning it and trying

to get rich off of them. It just

motivates us to work harder in

merchandising, the driving range,

lessons, the school, and all.”

Scott McBeath is the course

superintendent. “He’s a two-handicap

player so he knows the game.

He’s been like gold, as he turned

this place around just six months

in,” Fish said.

“It’s always been a diamond in

the rough, a very special layout,

and we’re always polishing that

diamond to make it better.”

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WHATCOMBUSINESSALLIANCE.COM | 65


Industry Report – Golf In Whatcom County

Brian Kruhlak drives the lake inlet on one of the testiest tee shots at the course that is a Canadian haven that he worked during summers

as a kid, and now lives on above tee box No. 2. (Staff Photo)

Sudden Valley Golf & Country Club

About 26,000 rounds

were played on this

semi-private course

owned by Sudden Valley

Community Association,

consisting of around

3,200 lot owners and

8,000 residents. A board

of directors oversees the

club, and Brian Kruhlak is

director of golf and head

pro.

Kruhlak estimates that about 10

percent play golf with membership

discounts (and also to tennis, the

recreation center that will lease

to the YMCA this year, the swimming

pool, and other amenities).

Otherwise, golf there opens during

specified hours to the public.

The business breakdown: Daily

golf brings 40 percent, membership

fees 40 percent, and golf

outings 20 percent, according to

Kruhlak. Standard greens fees cost

$40 weekdays, $50 weekends.

Canadian golfers make up

about 60 percent of the daily

golf revenue, and about half of

the membership players. Kruhlak

understands that influence firsthand.

“I grew up on this course

because my family (from B.C.) had

66 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM


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a summer vacation home here,” he

said.

“I got special dispensation to

work at the course since there

“Carts came along, and

they’re great for revenue,

but the caddies went

away – and that’s one

important place young kids

were around the game and

learned to play,”

—Brian Kruhlak, director of golf, Sudden

Valley

were not enough American kids

to work. I’ve been on this course

from early ‘80s when I was a cart

washer, club scrubber, and then

assistant pro here.”

He returned three years ago

after 20 years as head pro at

Avalon in Skagit County. Seeking

ways to make the course more

agreeable to more players, Kruhlak

oversaw expanding the greens

by 20,000 square feet, and he

changed agronomy practices to

use less water and different treatments.

Sudden Valley’s golf business

has experienced growth of about

10 percent a year since

2011. “It was kind of flat last

year because unfortunately we

lost our food and beverage operator

in October of ’12 and didn’t

reopen the restaurant until July to

September last year. We don’t own

the restaurant, and we were hamstrung.”

To stimulate interest Kruhlak

operates clinics with junior programs

and women, a junior camp

in June, and events to create more

rounds. In 2011 he cut the junior

membership fee for 17-under from

$550 to $250. The result: “We’ve

gone from four members to 30,”

he said.

He has a vision for helping

young, non-affluent youths to

play golf. “Carts came along, and

they’re great for revenue, but the

caddies went away – and that’s

one important place young kids

were around the game and learned

to play,” he said. Sudden Valley’s

golf course, sitting on what once

was a huge ranch in the forest

and accessible by a winding drive

through sky-tall Douglas firs,

offers what Kruhlak calls the best

combination of outstanding aesthetics

and a two-pronged test of

skills.

“We have two starkly different

nines,” he said. “The front (where

his home sits above the No. 2

tees) wraps around the lake with

mountainside views, and the back

goes up into the hills, where it’s

tree-lined all the way and much

tighter. Hands-down, it’s the most

beautiful golf course property

around here.”

WHATCOMBUSINESSALLIANCE.COM | 67


Industry Report – Golf In Whatcom County

Shuksan Golf Club

Rick Dvorak, the CEO

of Shuksan Golf Club,

summed up 2013 on his

course as “…a very good

year, up in rounds and

revenue – the best in 8

years. I don’t like to reveal

our rounds, but between

25,000-30,000.”

Canadian golfers – over 50 percent

of Shuksan business, Dvorak

said – love it because it’s close

and it’s inexpensive. Still, play

runs far below capacity, and the

owner said he recognizes decline

during the last three years in business,

given the marketing and

the venue. At one point when

border problems decreased traffic

from Canada, Shuksan went from

75-100 rounds a day to 35.

A problem for Shuksan at times

has been its difficulty, length,

and natural layout. “For a long

time our course was very difficult

because of the terrain,” Dvorak

said. “We have moved tees forward

for seniors, both men and women,

to make it a shorter but normal

course.”

He referred to a write-up about

several Northwest courses in

Alaska Airlines Magazine a couple

of years ago, in which the author,

Jeff Wallach, wrote: “Playing

Shuksan is like watching an entertaining

stage play that reveals an

array of quirky, yet engaging personalities,

ranging from amusing

to downright ornery.”

In addition to the core services

of tournaments and other golf

events, pro shop, greens fees, cart

rental, and the driving range,

Shuksan has places for non-golf

meetings, and for weddings.

“We’re set up for it,” Dvorak said.

“We have an outside wedding terrace

in front of the clubhouse.”

The backdrop for a wedding,

just as for the golfer, lends spectacular

views of the Cascades

(a peak of which the course is

named for) and glimpses of Mt.

Baker. Dvorak, stating that he has

a “bunch of favorites” among the

holes, spoke of what many call the

signature hole of Shuksan, No. 5:

“It’s a par-4 strategy hole that

will beat you up, but its beauty is

its privacy. It sits among cedars

and firs and says, ‘You’re sitting

in the heart of the Pacific

Northwest.’”

“Playing Shuksan is like

watching an entertaining

stage play that reveals

an array of quirky, yet

engaging personalities,

ranging from amusing to

downright ornery.”

— Jeff Wallach, for Alaska Airlines Magazine

Photo courtesy of Shuksan Golf Club


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Industry Report – Golf In Whatcom County

Tyler Poster (left), the 2nd assistant, talks about merchandise with head pro and director of golf Nathan Vickers at one of the most popular

and busiest public courses in the county. The pro shop is but a tiny slice in the course’s revenues. (Staff Photo)

North Bellingham Golf Course

Greens and

memberships make up

80 percent of the business

at this county course most

resembling a traditional

links layout, sans ocean,

heather, and gorse, and

another 15 percent from

the pro shop.

Other sales come from the driving

range, cart rental, lessons,

the restaurant, and other sundry

extras. And business as a whole,

said head club pro Nathan Vickers,

the director of golf, “…is pretty flat

as a whole.”

Referring to the comeback from

the 2008 economic downturn, he

said, “Golf is not necessary. It’s the

first thing you put off. But, we’ve

been growing a little, which is

good compared to the average in

golf. If you’ve been growing at all

the last four or five years you’re

better than most.”

His course welcomed about

45,000 rounds last year, a robust

number comparatively – both

against the rest of the county,

and against past performance at

North Bellingham. The number is

up from the 38,000-40,000 range

since 2008.

The course opened in 1995.

Vickers arrived two years later from

Spokane. He attributes the growth

pattern that survived the ’08 recession

to staying the course. “We

didn’t cut expenses,” he said, “and

we kept the course in great shape.”

70 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM


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The course caters especially to

Canadian golfers, drawing in a

range between 30-45 percent of

revenues from the northern neighbors,

depending on the time of

year.

“We cost a lot less to play as a

municipal course when they come

down for their groceries, gas, and

play a round,” Vickers said. “A lot

of their courses would cost them

twice as much.”

He pointed out the main reason

why the Canadian player remains

a core customer: border crossings

in 2008 stood at 10 million; by

2012 they’d risen to 21 million. As

second assistant pro Tyler Poster

put it, “We’re right on the way

between millions of people and a

mall.”

The day of this interview, two

men putting gear in a car with

British Columbia plates, identifying

themselves as Larry and Jerry,

said they would pay three times

more to play the municipal course

nearest their home. They also said

they made it from their home to

North Bellingham in 40 minutes,

and would have spent nearly that

He pointed out the

main reason why the

Canadian player remains

a core customer: border

crossings in 2008 stood

at 10 million; by 2012

they’d risen to 21 million.

As second assistant pro

Tyler Poster put it, “We’re

right on the way between

millions of people and a

mall.”

long in tunnel traffic going to

their nearest course.

Vickers said, “We watch the

Canadian dollar closely. If it drops,

we have a double-whammy.” One

of the two players there that day,

Jerry, made note that they were

paying less than $2 more (the loonie

was down near 80 cents) and

they wouldn’t care if it dropped

to half of the U.S. dollar “because

we’d still be saving money.”

North Bellingham offers many

tournaments and club events,

thriving on competition. They held

a Super Bowl tournament, and

throughout the off-season they

keep points and standings in a

Frostbite League for both men and

women.

During peak play, Vickers said

the course would draw about 130

on a weekend day. “We have a

really good winter course. It drains

well, and we’re open to the sun.

Greens are healthier from nice

water flow, and grass is waist

high. It gobbles up golf balls.”

WHATCOMBUSINESSALLIANCE.COM | 71


Industry Report – Golf In Whatcom County

Dakota Creek – a course of a different color

Pam Smith built it, mows it, welcomes golfers ‘as-you-are’ for family-friendly rounds

By Mike McKenzie

Pam Smith refers to

herself as a “very

sole proprietor.” She also

could tag on golf course

architect, club pro, greens

superintendent, and head

of customer service,

marketing, and every other

thing that keeps her Dakota

Creek Golf Club running.

In Whatcom County’s montage

of golf, Smith and her unusual

back-story and operations make

Dakota Creek a course of a different

color. She built designed a

built it on a 100-year-old, 200-

acre farm. Correction: “Me, God,

and many, many knowledgeable

golfers,” she said of its creation.

“I asked questions, and everybody

was kind enough to answer.

I took what we needed, and threw

the rest away.”

The result, a chip shot from the

Canadian border tucked into hilly

woods off of the I-5 Birch Bay-

Lynden exit, is a casual-atmosphere,

family-styled, picturesque

layout. “Family friendly, that’s our

theme for 2014,” she said (repeatedly)

during a ride around her

course.

“You can see the whole county,” owner Pam Smith said of her hand-built course that

relies on as much as 80% Canadian golfers with themes of casual and family-centered

play. (Photo by Mike McKenzie)


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Industry Report – Golf In Whatcom County

Relying largely on golfers

a quick drive away in British

Columbia, the business chugs

along steadily on a theme of

come-as-you-are and leave formality

at the entrance.

After she bought the land she

wanted to turn it into a camping

business, though the aged barn

adds a large, looming salute to

yesteryear as the backdrop to the

clubhouse. “But the county ordinance

would allow me to build a

only a church, a cemetery, or a

golf course,” she said.

She had been taking care of

the grounds on contract at Lake

Padden’s municipal course, and

figured, “Why not make myself a

family-friendly golf course – the

future of golf.”

The one job she doesn’t perform

is instructor. “I don’t even play the

game. My job is mowing the grass,

and meeting the folks who visit

us.”

The course, while unconventional

yet refined repeatedly and

groomed immaculately over the

years, is no joke. Smith bursts with

prideful energy as she describes

it. “Our greens are dynamite over

“Our action (greens

fee) stays the same. We

don’t compete with the

big boys…we’re not a

trendsetter….We rely on

75-80 percent Canadian

customers.”

—Pam Smith, owner, Dakota Creek Golf Club

the last three years. The fairways

are still a mom ‘n’ pop course. We

didn’t have the millions it would

have taken to make them topgrade,

and they had to mature

quick.”

She opened the front first, and

the back a decade later, and said

both were too soon. “I opened in

the ‘80s prematurely as the ‘toughest

9 holes in Washington.’ In ’96

we went to 18 holes, but prematurely

again, with the back nine.

We teed up on the dandelions.”

Business? “We hang on,” she

said. “Like a lot of businesses in

the county we rely on 75-80 percent

Canadian customers. We’re

very Canada-friendly, but 9/11 and

the border crossing about killed

us. They’d had a moratorium on

building courses, and they had

nothing like our nine-hole so we

did fantastic, and now we have

them back on a regular basis.”

Greens fees cost in the $20s,

or $15 for nine holes. “Our action

stays the same. We don’t compete

with the big boys. I’ll up my prices

the second I can, but we’re not a

trendsetter.”

Golfers at Dakota Creek find a

friendly practice area with a net,

and what Smith terms “dynamite

putt and chip greens.” To add

user-friendliness to the golf test,

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she’s widened the fairways and

moved some tee boxes forward.

“We’ve dramatically improved the

course over the last 5-6 years.

Up-and-down, I believe we have

the best greens in the county.

“You will not be bored on our

course. It has everything the game

has to offer, and at the top you

can see the whole county – islands

in front of you, mountains if you

turn around. It’s a gorgeous walk

with nature.”

“We have the best greens

in the county. You will not

be bored on our course.

It has everything the

game has to offer, (and)…

it’s a gorgeous walk with

nature.”

—Pam Smith, owner, Dakota Creek Golf Club

Her relaxed regulations permits

teeshirts, tank tops even. “We

welcome you as you are. We ask

that everyone arrive in a shirt, but

once out on the course, hey, that

shirt can come off. Just respect the

course, and respect others playing

it.”

The club also stages several

tournaments designed for fun. And

some are free. Smith stages those

on behalf of three charities – the

alternative Humane Society shelter,

a camp for kids, and the Royal

Family Orphanage.

The only new consideration

looking ahead, other than selling

off several bags of new clubs

she got in a buyout, is weddings.

“We’re pitching a tent. We’d

turned down a lot of requests, so

my grandson created the facilities

to accommodate riding into the

wedding tent on golf carts in a

slow parade….”

One more line on the job title

list for Pam Smith.

Representing the universal golfer, this stately bronze bust welcomes visitors to

Bellingham Country Club. (Staff Photo)

Whatcom County

Golf Courses

Bellingham Golf & Country Club (private, 18)

Dakota Creek Golf Club, Custer (public, 18)

Grandview Golf Course, Custer (public, 18)

Homestead Golf & Country Club, Lynden (semi-pvt, 18)

Lake Padden Golf Course (muni, 18)

Loomis Trail, Blaine (semi-pvt, 18)

North Bellingham Golf Course (public, 18)

Point Roberts Golf & Country Club (public, 18)

Raspberry Ridge, Everson (exec, 9)

Semiahmoo Golf & Country Club (semi-pvt, 18)

Shuksan Golf Club (public, 18)

Sudden Valley Golf & Country Club (semi-pvt, 18)

WHATCOMBUSINESSALLIANCE.COM | 75


Philanthropy: Mt. Baker Chapter Red Cross

Executive Director Stacy Rice leads the local chapter that manages a budget of $800,000, of which 91 percent goes to programming, and

100s of volunteers with a five-person staff. (Staff Photo)

Mt. Baker Chapter Red Cross: beyond local

Helping families navigate unexpected emergencies

Special to Business Pulse

The local administrative

team of the American

Red Cross, based in

downtown Bellingham,

bears the name Mt. Baker

Chapter. It operates with

just five employees. Seem

small?

Take a look at its tentacles.

They stretch from local, to regional,

to state, to national, to around

the world.

The Mt. Baker Chapter primarily

covers needs in Whatcom County

and Skagit County, but also part of

the Northwest Washington Region

that includes the Snohomish and

Islands chapters. They all fall

under the U.S. umbrella, and work

within the framework of the largest

humanitarian organization in

the universe – the network of the

International Red Cross Chapters.

With just a five-person staff the

local chapter is capable of helping

thousands of people every

year – typically on a daily basis –

because the chapter thrives as a 98

percent volunteer organization. It

carries out the mission of preventing

and alleviating human suffering

in the face of emergencies by

mobilizing the power of about 350

volunteers with about an $800,000

budget.

Here’s the astounding fact that

demonstrates how the free-market

approach boosts philanthropy:

All $800,000 comes from within

Whatcom and Skagit, and all on

donations. Fund-Raiser is the Mt.

Baker Chapter staff’s middle name.

Jayne Heininger, the chief operating

officer of the regional Red

Cross, said, “We receive no funding

from our national organiza-

76 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM


tion, or from the government….100

percent of the funding comes from

the generosity of our community…

(including) both individuals and

businesses.”

Last year, according to the

executive director of the Mt. Baker

Chapter, Stacy Rice, the chapter

provided emergency services

and lifesaving skills to more than

10,000 people. “The services we

provide are essential to the health

and well-being of our community,”

Rice said. “Many of our clients

would become homeless without

the immediate assistance that we

provide. Many people are making

it month-to-month … but are

unable to navigate an unexpected

emergency such as a house-fire

or flood. With a little help, these

folks remain vital, healthy, contributing

members in our society.”

The private donations remain

within Whatcom and Skagit counties.

The only monies allocated

outside the area are donations specifically

designated to a national

or international relief effort by the

donor. When an emergency strikes

beyond local capacity to respond,

support then draws from the

region, the state, and then from

the nation as needed.

“Even though we are responsible

for all emergency responses

within our jurisdiction,” Rice said,

“it is very comforting to know

that there are multiple levels of

assistance built in to the Red Cross

response plan,” said Rice.

While the Mt. Baker Chapter

provides all of its services within

Whatcom and Skagit counties,

their volunteers often travel far

and wide to assist others. During

large national disasters, the

American Red Cross recruits volunteers

nationwide. For example

in 2013, during Hurricane Sandy

relief efforts, 22 volunteers

deployed from the Mt. Baker

Chapter to help folks in New York,

New Jersey, and West Virginia.

The volunteers deployed as

shelter workers, nurses, mental

An American Red Cross worker helps a child in distress somewhere in America, an everyday

occurrence for volunteers such as the 350 who support Mt. Baker Chapter in this

region. (Photo courtesy of the American Red Cross)

WHATCOMBUSINESSALLIANCE.COM | 77


Philanthropy: Mt. Baker Chapter Red Cross

health professionals, Emergency

Response Vehicle (ERV) drivers,

and feeding-team members. Linda

Giles leads these efforts as the

volunteer services director. The

benefits cut both ways. “Our volunteers

learn a great deal when

deployed to national disasters,”

Giles said. “They bring new skills,

ideas and information back to the

chapter, which is very helpful on a

local level.”

The American Red Cross has

gone through significant change

over the last three years as the

national organization has restructured

and streamlined. Chapters

merged, and back-office functions

have been regionalized, databases

have been standardized, and

expenses have been drastically

reduced.

“In order to remain financially

viable in our changing world as

well as excellent stewards of the

donated dollar, changes needed to

be made, Heininger said. “It has

been an exciting and sometimes

challenging process, but the results

are proving to be extremely beneficial.

As an organization, 91 cents

on every dollar goes toward Red

Cross programs.

The local Red Cross provides

essential services through three

main programs: Disaster Services,

Services to the Armed Forces, and

Health and Safety. These programs

help prevent, prepare for, and

respond to emergencies.

“We receive no funding

from our national

organization, or from the

government….100 percent

comes from the generosity

of our community…

(including) both individuals

and businesses.”

–Jayne Heininger, COO of the Washington

Regional Red Cross

The Disaster Services program

provides immediate emergency

relief to those affected by

unexpected disasters. This relief

includes temporary shelter, financial

assistance for clothes, food,

supplies and medical needs as well

as emotional support. After immediate

assistance is provided, the

goal is to reestablish each family

into a residence comparable

to what they were in before the

disaster.

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Skagit Bridge Collapse Mobile Feeding: Mt. Baker Chapter Red Cross volunteers Sue

Hibma (left) and Judy Holz helped feed and hydrate rescue teams during the relief efforts

after the I-5 bridge collapsed near Burlington last year. (Photo courtesy Mt. Baker Red Cross)

78 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM


With the economic downturn

over the past several years, the

number of families needing help

has increased as well as the number

of family members living in

each residence. The Chapter averages

one disaster response a week

with the most common disaster

being house fires. However, the

Chapter has responded to 18 disasters

over the past two months …

more than doubling their average.

Since disasters are unpredictable,

the Chapter must always be ready

to respond with physical and

human resources as well as have

the donations necessary to fund

the response. All of these factors

depend on our community at

large.

The Service to the Armed

Forces Program provides emergency

assistance to our local service

members, veterans and their

families. This assistance includes

Emergency Communication

Services between families and their

deployed service member, financial

assistance, as well as classes

and workshops. The classes assist

families to deal with the stresses of

having a family member deployed

as well as the challenges of reintegrating

that family member once

they return home.

This is one of the least wellknown

programs of the Red Cross

but is also one of the most utilized.

“We recently helped a service

member return to the bedside

of his father just hours before his

father passed away. The gift of

those few hours for the service

member, his father, and their entire

family was priceless for them. We

felt honored and humbled to be

a part of that healing process in

some small way,” Rice said.

The Red Cross also teaches

lifesaving skills to thousands of

individuals every year through its

Health and Safety Program. “We

hear stories every day from folks

who have taken a CPR class or

babysitting class and have saved

a life because of their new skills,”

BUSINESS BOX SCORE:

Mt. Baker Chapter of the American Red Cross

• Top Executive: Stacy Rice, Executive Director

• Started: 1917

• Employees: 5, all in Bellingham

• Volunteers: 350

• How start-up was funded: Individual and corporate contributions

• Current Budget: Approximately $800,000

• Services outreach: 10,000 people

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Philanthropy: Mt. Baker Chapter Red Cross

stated Rice. Statistics show that

80 percent of the time, people use

CPR and other lifesaving skills on

someone they know. Being prepared

can definitely save a life …

and often it is a loved one.

The Chapter just celebrated with

a young family after their 13 year

old daughter, Sarah, saved a 6

year old girl’s life. While Sarah

was babysitting for only her second

time, the little girl choked

on a piece of food and stopped

breathing. Sarah remembered her

Red Cross training and began to

do abdominal thrusts. After several

attempts, she was able to dislodge

the piece of food and bring the

girl back to life. Preparedness

saves lives.

While all of the services of

the Mt. Baker Chapter are provided

within Whatcom and Skagit

counties, their volunteers often

travel far and wide to assist others.

During large national disasters,

volunteers are recruited nationwide

in order to fulfill the need of

the particular community. During

Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, for

example, 22 volunteers deployed

from the Mt. Baker Chapter to help

folks in New York, New Jersey,

and West Virginia.

The volunteers deployed as

shelter workers, nurses, mental

health professionals, Emergency

Response Vehicle (ERV) drivers,

and feeding team members. “Our

volunteers learn a great deal when

deployed to National disasters.

They then bring these new skills,

ideas and information back to the

Chapter … which is very helpful

on a local level,” said Linda Giles,

Volunteer Services Director. All

costs for national disasters are

covered by the national organization

and staffed by Red Cross volunteers

throughout the country.

Disaster preparedness is also an

important part of the Red Cross

mission and the Mt. Baker Chapter

is currently involved in a 3-year

preparedness initiative called Safe

in the Sound. Safe in the Sound

Local volunteers Mike Gantenbein, Judy

Holz (seated), and Noriko Lao (r.) are

working on a regional disaster plan for the

Mt. Baker chapter. (Staff Photo)

(or SITS) is striving to teach and

prepare 1 million people in the

Puget Sound area over the next

three years to be ready when

disaster strikes. In coordination

with their founding partner, Puget

Sound Energy, the initiative has

80 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM


already reached over 400,000

people.

Within our community, the

goal is to train 40,000 residents

in Whatcom and 25,000 in Skagit

and we are well on our way.

Statistics show that the more prepared

a community is for disasters,

the more lives are saved when

a disaster strikes. Statistics also

prove that every dollar spent on

preparedness saves six dollars in

response. This makes for a smart

investment ahead of time.

The Chapter offers free

Preparedness Workshops and webbased

programs to groups and

businesses to help them prepare.

Free Red Cross apps are also available

on a number of topics to

help all residents prepare for and

respond during emergencies.

With such a small local staff

and so many important programs,

the Chapter depends on its welltrained

volunteers to do their

work in the community every

day. The Chapter also works very

The chapter’s Fab Five in the home office (left to right): Office Manager Roxanne

Pierce, Volunteer Services Director Linda Giles, Executive Director Stacy Rice, Financial

Development Director Teresa Scott, and Regional Chief Operating Officer Jayne Heininger.

(Photo by Mike McKenzie)

closely with local Emergency

Management, fire, and police as

well as other nonprofits to fill the

needs of their clients. “It takes a

village to help someone in need

after a disaster or emergency. No

one organization can do it alone.

We are very fortunate to live in

a generous community. There is

no way we could do what we do

without our donors, partners and

volunteers,” Rice said.

To support the Mt. Baker

Chapter and the work that it does

in our community, you can donate,

volunteer, and get prepared. For

more information, visit www.

redcross.org/mtbaker, or call at

360-733-3290.

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Personally Speaking: WWU President Bruce Shepard

Personally Speaking…

with

Dr. Bruce Shepard

Interview and Photos by Managing Editor Mike McKenzie

Graciously granting

a special request,

the president of Western

Washington University

wore his CEO hat in a

visit with Managing Editor

Mike McKenzie about the

business of WWU as one

of the largest employers in

the county. He revealed

a management style that’s

taking WWU into a new

frontier with inquiring

leadership, collaborative

vision, and acute fiscal

acumen within the business

community.

For our business-centered

reader, Dr. Shepard addressed how

higher education, i.e., in this case

WWU, can and must exercise

strategies and create significant

impact on the regional economy

and companies – and the national

and global free markets, as well.

“Stewards of place” is his label

for a strong, vibrant destination

university that provides real-time

business opportunity for students

wanting that, and for businesses

wanting top-drawer students in

any field. Oh, yes, and there’s that

matter of raising funds and balancing

budgets.

When he isn’t up to his eyes in

that, you might catch him roasting

coffee, woodworking, and hanging

out with family….

Education a Top Priority

My dad was first person to go

to college in our family. He was

moving irrigation water from one

trough to another in the Central

Valley of California with a shovel

at the age of 20….migrant, agricultural

labor. The life-saver was

when he wandered down to Cal-

Berkeley, paid $17 a semester in

fees and no tuition, got interrupted

by World War II, and then went on

to get his Ph.D.

82 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM


Photos courtesy of WWU Office of Communications and Marketing

WHATCOMBUSINESSALLIANCE.COM | 83


• Education: B.S., Master’s, and Ph.D. at

University of California at Riverside in

political science.

• Career: Oregon State, 23 years, Poli-

Sci faculty and various admin roles.

Eastern Oregon, 1995-2001, Provost

and Poli-Sci professor. Wisconsin-

Green Bay, 2001-’08, Chancellor.

Western Washington, began Sept. 1,

2008 as President.

BOX SCORE:

Dr. Bruce Shepard

• Professional organizations: Visiting

scientist, Population Study Center,

Seattle; policy analyst, USDA Forest

Service; visiting fellow, School of

Communication Leadership and Liberal

Studies, Mitchell College of Advanced

Education, Bathurst, Australia,

and Board of Directors, American

Association of State Colleges and

Universities.

• Personal: Hobby coffee roaster,

woodwork, sailing. Wife, Cyndie,

is executive director of Compass 2

Campus (C2C) at Western Washington

University. C2C, a mentoring initiative,

and she teaches at Western in

Woodring College of Education and

in the dance department, is pastpresident

of WWU’s chapter of Phi

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NORTHWEST BACKGROUND

Every summer my dad would

drive us north to camp on the

Olympic Peninsula, where you

picked the campsites based on the

trees to strategically locate the

ropes and the tarps to keep you

dry. We’d go to Orcas Island and

Vancouver Island.

I spent 29 years in Oregon in

two different places, served in the

Midwest, and then had the opportunity

to come back to Western.

I’d watched it grow from a typical

regional university into one of

considerable accomplishment and

fine reputation.

PROFESSOR BEFORE ADMIN

For 22 years I earned an honest

living as a professor. At Oregon

State I had a chance to go into

administration. My ability to write

fairly well got me there. People

noticed my ability to write a clear

sentence, to think clearly and

communicate. I’m now learning

to master Twitter. It’s intriguing

and fun how you convey a sense

of your personality, humor, and a

clear message in 140 characters.

MISS IT?

Yes, I miss the classroom. I

tried to continue to teach while

also working on the administrative

side. I don’t know if the students

noticed, but I thought I was

cheating the students by not giving

them my full attention. So I

stopped because I knew I could do

84 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM


a better job. Sometimes my faculty

invites me in for guest lectures.

YOUR SUBJECT?

More recently, the history of

higher education. At the traditional,

old private university of the

early 1800s, the president of the

university always gave the final

capstone course, moral ethics…a

philosophy course. When I went in

to talk to that class for their last

lecture, I said that anybody who

thinks that a modern American

university president, after spending

all his time raising money for

the university and dealing with

elected officials, hasn’t got anything

to say about ethics, doesn’t

understand the job.

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“(WWU) needs to be the

stewards of place. We

have a responsibility, an

obligation, to take care

of the places where we

have the good fortune to

call home. Economically,

politically, socially, and

culturally.”

BUSINESS SIDE OF PRESIDENT

I come at it from a couple of

angles. First, a strong regional

university like ours needs to be,

the phrase I like is, the stewards

of place. We have a responsibility,

an obligation, to take care

of the places where we have

the good fortune to call home.

Economically, politically, socially,

and culturally.

That’s the good reason. The

smart reason is political. I have

a slogan I repeat wherever I go:

Communities support universities

that support communities. I

look at Bellingham and Whatcom

County as huge potential as a

WHATCOMBUSINESSALLIANCE.COM | 85


Personally Speaking: WWU President Bruce Shepard

most attractive area for retirement,

recreation, scenic beauty, and climate.

HIGH GOALS

We have a strong university

here, (and) with a smile we’d call

ourselves a community of subdued

excitement. That’s fine. But we

don’t want to be a community of

subdued aspirations. We want to

set the bar high and go after it.

WWU’S PART?

How can Western play a catalytic

role here? We’re known for

the engagement of our students

and faculty and staff in our community.

We’re the only university

in the state – public or private,

big or small – that three years in

a row has been on the President’s

White House Higher Education

Community Service Honor Roll.

Mainly that’s because of about

almost 1 million hours of volunteer

service. A lot of enterprises,

not-for-profit, would not be possible

if not for the faculty and students

supporting them.

We’re key players in the

Northwest Economic Council, and

in the Whatcom County plans for

sustainable economy…trying to

figure out how to play a stronger

and stronger role as stewards of

place.

ACTIVELY SEEKING INPUT

Steve Swan, Western’s vice

president for University Relations

and Community Development

recently surveyed leaders in Skagit

and Whatcom County and held

some face-to-face conversations

about what we could be doing.

What we heard is that if we need

help we can go to them.

It works the other way, too. We

have all these academic departments

and classes that want to

get engaged with a business and

provide some help and learning

opportunities. Where do they go?

The idea is Western’s Front Door

to Discovery program. Turns out,

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it’s a two-way door, that allows

people in the community that

want help and expertise.

Dan Purdy is the person staffing

that Western program. He knows

how to navigate the university and

create that. He’s got eight projects

going right now. If a faculty member

has an idea about a business

class that could work on a strategic

situation and would love to

work on that in a real-world situation,

such as a marketing challenge,

Dan will go to the business

community and make arrangements

there to help.

IS IT WORKING?

This is the first year. It’ll take

a year or two to see how that

works out. So far I’ve been very

impressed. It’s not enough to

just say the good words, when it

comes to the university supporting

the community, and the community

supporting the university.

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There’s got to be action.

We’re proactively seeking projects.

It’s an umbrella organization.

Under that we have the economic

research operation with Professor

Hart Hodges, and the Small

Business Development Center with

Jennifer Shelton, and Western’s

extensive service learning in the

community. There’s a lot of learning

by doing, and serving in the

community takes place. Learning

becomes more effective, too,

through real-world problems and

not just textbook problems.

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EXAMPLES?

Pro CNC, a high-tech machining

operation here, has about

50 family-wage jobs. Six former

Western students in our automotive

technology program started

it, and several alumni still head

the company. They came up with

this high-tech machine that makes

parts for the aerospace industry.

One of their more profitable products

is mouthpieces for high-end

saxophones.

The old idea of machining is

somebody’s standing at a metal

lathe. These days, they’re standing

in front of computer screens

with CAD equipment, and robots

run the machines, moving parts

around. Pro CNC depends on

Western as the source for those

high-tech skills, and hires a lot of

our grads.

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WHATCOMBUSINESSALLIANCE.COM | 87


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“I’ve loved to sail all my life, fish, tennis,

golf. And I’ve done a lot of woodworking

lately. That cabinet (in his office) – no

tax dollars, I built it. I’m a closet coffee

roaster.” —Dr. Bruce Shepard

Another example is Alpha

Technologies. Their group not only

hires a lot of our graduates for

their great global success, but they

reinvest in the University through

scholarships to insure that they

maintain a stream of talent.

There are hundreds of opportunities,

and we don’t want to just

be subdued aspirations. How do

we get up to that level of higher

success? All of us are looking to

the future to try to figure that out.

WWU TOOK BIG HITS

I don’t want to be Pollyannish

about the hard times this

University has been through,

because they’ve been very hard.

About 14 percent of our budget

comes from taxpayers. So, 86

88 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM


cents of every dollar we spend

come from Western students who

could write their tuition checks to

somebody else. That means we’re

already accountable to the marketplace

for performance and keeping

people satisfied with the quality of

the product.

In my time here the state financial

support has been cut by more

than 50 percent. Still we’ve come

out stronger than where we started

– because you don’t let any good

crisis go to waste.

You look hard at what can be

done. We’ve really understood

our market edge – quality. People

expect an excellent education at

Western; it’s why we have 15,000

applicants for 3,500 slots. Other

institutions went to open admissions.

We didn’t go down that

road. We protected that edge in

the marketplace.

HOW?

We made changes, became

more efficient. We learned the

lessons. Every time we thought

we’d exhausted every possible savings

we could think of, we’d go

back and find that the well wasn’t

empty. There were still more efficiencies

and savings to be found.

I think we really have come out

of this not merely surviving, but

stronger in every way.

FORWARD THINKING

I’ve studied a lot of the business

stuff. A lot of the teachers –

Edwards, Deming – and two things

that they all say struck me.

One, dissatisfied customers don’t

ever tell you they’re dissatisfied;

they just go away. So you’ve got

to be proactive and understand

what’s happening with the people

you do business with.

Second, you have to understand

what your customers need before

they know it. Your competitors

are already delivering what they

want today. That’s what higher ed

is about…thinking a generation

ahead of our clients – our students

Reach more than 50,000 leaders

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MAGAZINE

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WHATCOMBUSINESSALLIANCE.COM | 89


Personally Speaking: WWU President Bruce Shepard

– to know what it is they want

and need before they even know

it.

LESSON OF THE ENGINEERS

Years ago at Oregon State during

tough economic times, I sat in

a meeting with a bunch of their

gurus. They call it the Silicon

Forest there because of the important

manufacturers of chips. They

said that when it comes to their

engineers they were either going

to have to fire them, retrain them,

or turn them into administrators

because after three or four years

they’re not good for anything else.

They sought our help to keep

their assets on the cutting edge. I

began to think about that. Really

our business is to create and innovate

and stay at the cutting edge.

That’s another reason why to have

this role in our local communities

of helping to move the economy

forward and stay competitive.

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[On leading WWU] “Topdown

management usually

doesn’t work. People just

go off a cliff together….

The phrase I use is

conducting a symphony

among talented soloists.

How do you do that? By

keeping the vision in front

of people.”

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I’ll put one other edge on that.

We have a role that’s shared with

the community. I’m sitting here

looking at a map of the Pacific

Rim on the wall, and I have good

enough vision I can see Korea,

and Japan, and China. We’re also

active in studies of Canada, and

Africa. We have a role of not only

bringing the world to Whatcom

County, but also Whatcom County

to the world.

We’re working on that as a university

as a part of our economic

community that is an important

source of strength for us. I’ll come

back to the example of Alpha

Technologies – global enterprise,

locally-based.

ENTREPRENEURIAL PROJECT:

WINDOW TO TOMORROW

I’ve asked business professionals

and leaders, ‘What are you missing

in college graduates? What

are you looking for the most? Two

interesting things have come up

most.

One is a more entrepreneurial

spirit, and intra-preneurial – hiring

people for middle management

positions. They want entrepreneurial

spirit in middle management

positions, even at large corporations.

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Personally Speaking: WWU President Bruce Shepard

ABILITY TO RELATE

The other one I heard recently

from IBM, and on the East Coast,

and down in Seattle. They want

graduates who are empathetic. Not

sympathetic. Empathetic.

People who can put themselves

in somebody else’s shoes, who

can see the world from somebody

else’s perspectives. That’s important

because they’re working in

groups, (and asking) what is the

common ground, how can we

work on this together?

In a recent presentation I

heard from three very high-priced

people: the heads of learning for

Apple, Microsoft, and IBM. They

all three had the same basic message

– we obviously want graduates

with technical expertise, but

they’re no good to us if that’s all

they have. They have to be able to

see across cultures, across people,

and they kept using this word,

empathy.

Working on Your Behalf

WBA ADVOCACY STATEMENT

Whatcom Business Alliance supports business

enterprises who demonstrate a commitment to a

safe, responsible, and ethical work place while

remaining compliant with all current local,

state, and federal laws, codes, and regulations.

The WBA further encourages and steadfastly advocates

for business development initiatives that

clearly operate in the best interest of our community.

WBA advocacy also includes identifying members’

primary concerns impacting their businesses,

and addressing those concerns appropriately.

Learn more about and join the WBA online

at www.whatcombusinessalliance.com

or by calling 360.746.0411.

Fostering Business Success and Community Prosperity

Board of Directors

Dave Adams, President

Emergency Reporting

Randi Axelsson, Sales Manager

Silver Reef Hotel, Casino and Spa

Pam Brady, Director, NW Govt. & Public

Affairs, BP Cherry Point Refinery

Janelle Bruland, President / CEO

Management Services Northwest

Jane Carten, President / CEO

Saturna Capital

Bruce Clawson, Senior VP

Wells Fargo Commercial Banking

Scott Corzine, Major Accounts Exec.

Puget Sound Energy

Kevin DeVries, President / CEO

Exxel Pacific, Inc.

Greg Ebe, President / CEO

Ebe Farms

Andy Enfield, Vice President

Enfield Farms

John Huntley, President / CEO

Mills Electric, Inc.

Guy Jansen, Director

Lynden, Inc.

Sandy Keathley, Previous Owner

K & K Industries

Paul Kenner, Executive VP

Snapper Shuler Kenner Insurance

Jeff Kochman, President / CEO

Barkley Company

Troy Muljat, Co-Founder, NVNTD, Inc.

Managing Broker, Muljat Commercial

Bob Pritchett, President / CEO

Logos Bible Software, Inc.

Brad Rader, Vice President

Rader Farms

Becky Raney, Owner

Print & Copy Factory

Jon Sitkin, Partner

Chmelik Sitkin & Davis P.S.

Doug Thomas, President / CEO

Bellingham Cold Storage

Marv Tjoelker, CEO

Larson Gross, PLLC

That resonates well with

Western. When we survey our students

we find that they really care

about and are highly motivated

about making a difference. Really

motivated to make a difference,

and that’s true of Bellingham and

Whatcom County.

“We obviously want

graduates with technical

expertise, but they’re no

good to us if that’s all

they have. They have to be

able to see across cultures,

across people, and (have)

empathy.”

LEADERSHIP PHILOSOPHY

I’m a poli-sci person. In my

profession I don’t believe in the

guru you read when you pick up

a book or magazine in the book

rack at the airport with the latest

sort of thing. I believe in researchbased

stuff in studies of leadership.

What it teaches me is that in

complex environments, complicated

organizations, the answers

are never obvious.

And top-down management

usually doesn’t work. People just

go off a cliff together.

What leadership has to be today

is not by you giving answers, but

by asking questions. They have to

be questions that take us outside

of our zones of comfort, because

none of us likes to deal with

change. So, part of your job in

leading a staff is to ask questions

that make us a little uncomfortable.

CUTS BOTH WAYS

And it has to go two ways. I

chose at my one chance to speak

each year to Western faculty

92 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM


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Personally Speaking: WWU President Bruce Shepard

and staff at what we call Open

Convocation, and I posed six difficult

questions on the campus that

we’re now working on. But you

have to ask me questions that take

me outside of my zone of comfort,

too, because I don’t like change as

well.

That’s the way leadership works.

It follows that if you ask questions,

you have to be able to hear

and listen. People ask me, what’s

your vision for the university?

Well, I have a vision. It’s, what is

the vision of the university, the

community, our elected officials,

our donors, our alumni?

I’ve spent a lot of time listening

with a lot of people. In a complex

organization if you keep the vision

and direction you’re going in front

of people, creative people – 2,200

employees, 15,000 students, and

more than 100,000 alumni – will

come up with stuff you never

thought of to move us forward.

YOUR METHOD

The phrase I use is conducting a

symphony among talented soloists.

How do you do that? By keeping

the vision in front of people.

That’s how I approach the job of

helping lead here at Western – I

ask them questions, and keep them

uncomfortable, and listen carefully

to what people say.

Then share the answers in front

of folks until they’re sick and tired

of hearing them. I get up and give

my 10-minute spiel, then I go and

sit down at the table, and hear my

friend say, ‘I’ve heard that speech

so many times I could give it

myself.’

And I say, (slapping a table)

‘Good! That’s the idea!’ That’s

what I want.

People have to create their own

understandings, and that’s education.

When you do it that way,

people buy in. They own it, and

make it successful. That’s really

important.

President Shepard said he misses the classroom, but he takes every opportunity to visit

with students as a visiting lecturer, or walking around the campus.

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Guest Column: Minimum Wage Law

Erin Shannon | Director, WPC for Small Business

Erin Shannon became director of the Washington Policy Center

for Small Business during January 2012. She has an extensive

background in small business issues and public affairs. The Center

improves the state’s small business climate by working with owners

and policymakers toward positives solutions.

Will your teen find a job this summer?

Most teens don’t know that state law makes it harder for them to find summer work

There is an

unemployment crisis for

teens in Washington state.

Our teen unemployment

rate (for 16-to-19 year

olds) is a staggering 30

percent, the sixth-highest

in the nation. To compare,

the state unemployment

rate for all workers is 6.6

percent.

The Great Recession cannot

be blamed for our state’s poor

teen employment ranking. Since

2002, well before the recession,

Washington has ranked among the

top ten states with the highest teen

unemployment every year but one.

Washington also has imposed

the nation’s highest minimum

wage for years. According to two

decades of research on the impact

of a high minimum wage, the evidence

shows that raising the wage

reduces employment for the least

skilled, such as young workers.

At $9.32, Washington has the

highest minimum wage in the

nation. Lawmakers recognize that

a high minimum wage decreases

job opportunities, so Washington

businesses are allowed to pay

14-to-15 year olds a training wage

to give employers an incentive to

hire young workers just entering

the workforce. But those 16 and

older are subject to the full minimum

wage, pricing many young

workers out of the labor market.

Given our state’s 30 percent

unemployment rate for 16-to-19

year olds, it is obvious a much

larger segment of teen workers is

in need of similar relief.

The general consensus of

decades of minimum wage

studies is that a 10 percent

increase in the minimum

wage reduces teen

employment by one to

three percentage points.

The vast majority of academic

studies, over 85 percent, show

that a high minimum wage hurts

the very people it is supposed to

help—the young, the inexperienced,

the unskilled. The general

consensus of decades of minimum

wage studies is that a 10 percent

increase in the minimum wage

reduces teen employment by

one to three percentage points.

The effects are even more pronounced

for minority teen workers.

Research shows a 10 percent

minimum wage increase causes

four times more employment

loss for African American young

adults than it does for non-black

employees. This might explain

why the unemployment rate for

black teens is significantly higher

than other teens.

The long-term effects of youth

unemployment are much more

profound than a teen who couldn’t

work to save money for a car. It

creates a “wage scar” that leaves

a lasting impact on a workers

employment prospects and earning

trajectory. The longer the teen

remains unemployed, the bigger

the scarring effect. Numerous

studies show those who do not

work as teenagers have lower

long-term wages and less employment,

even after 20 years.

Studies also show a teen training

wage would help prevent

wage scarring by encouraging

teen employment. A study by a

Federal Reserve economist found

having a starting wage well below

the minimum counteracts much of

the negative impact on job prospects

for teens.

The Organization for Economic

Cooperation and Development

(OECD), an organization comprised

of 34 countries to foster economic

progress, said in a 2010 report

that teen unemployment could be

reduced by allowing a sub-minimum

training wage for teenagers.

Former Chief Economic Advisor to

President Obama, Larry Summers,

has endorsed a teen training wage

as a way to combat teen unemployment.

96 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM


Our state’s high minimum wage

creates a barrier to teens just when

they need work experience the

most. A temporary training wage

of 85 percent of the state minimum

wage would provide employers

with the incentive they need to

take a chance by hiring a young,

unskilled teenager. If the law

forces a higher wage, the employer

might as well hire an older applicant

with more job skills and a

work history. Most teens will

never know that they can’t find

a job because of a state law that

fixes wages.

The result of allowing a training

wage would be more teens being

hired and receiving valuable work

skills and experience, reducing

wage scarring and other long-term

consequences created by prolonged

periods of unemployment

for young workers. Young people

just want a chance. State lawmakers

should help them get it.

Sumas: A great place to live and do business

The City of Sumas has a thriving industrial zone with rail service & heavy haul

roads making it an excellent place to do business. Here are a few

more reasons why you should be here:

• Proximity to Canada

• Foreign trade zone

• Low electric rates

• Fast turn around for permits

• No development or impact fees

• Low land prices

• Great schools and beautiful parks

• Lowest utilities cost in the county

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• Quiet rural setting

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WHATCOMBUSINESSALLIANCE.COM | 97


Guest Column: Free-Market Environmentalism

Todd Myers | Environmental Director,

Washington Policy Center

The Washington Policy Center is an independent, non-partisan think tank promoting sound public

policy based on free-market solutions. Todd Myers is one of the nation’s leading experts on freemarket

environmental policy and is the author of the 2011 landmark book Eco-Fads: How the Rise of

Trendy Environmentalism is Harming the Environment. His in-depth research on the failure of the

state’s 2005 “green” building mandate receives national attention. He recently became a contributor

to The Wall Street Journal.

Why I don’t count on politicians

to save my honeybees

As spring arrives, we

soon will begin seeing

honeybees as they collect

pollen and nectar, and

pollinate flowers and fruit

in the area. The bees in my

own hives near Issaquah

are getting ready and, with

luck, they will survive

the winter and I can look

forward to a strong year of

pollination and honey.

Honeybees are an especially

welcome sight to beekeepers

because of recent concerns

about Colony Collapse Disorder

(CCD). Over the last decade, the

percentage of hives that fail to

survive the winter has increased

from about 15 percent to over

30 percent, according to the U.S.

Department of Agriculture. A great

deal of debate goes on among

beekeepers about the cause of this

worrisome decline.

Some talk apocalyptically about

a world without bees. Many environmentalists

have quickly pointed

to causes ranging from pesticides,

to genetically modified crops

(GMOs), to cell phone towers.

Research shows, however, that

none of these suspected causes is

the likely source of increased winter

die-off of honeybees.

For example, while bees in the

United States have struggled, honeybees

in the Canadian prairies

where a large amount of GMO

crops grow, have fared better. In

Europe, on the other hand, where

GMO crops are banned, honeybees

have seen declines.

Bill McKibben, a wellknown

environmental

activist, even blamed

climate change for the

decline. Honeybees are not

native to North America

and they have thrived

from California to North

Dakota. Blaming a onedegree

global temperature

increase for the decline

of honeybees that have

already adapted across a

wide temperature range

is the sort of unscientific

nonsense that makes it

difficult to address the

real issues.

Some have blamed pesticides

called neonicitinoids that are seedbased.

The evidence of a link to

honeybee death is sparse, however.

Recent studies found if honeybees

become exposed to the pesticide,

they can be harmed. Studies

also show, however, that honeybees

are unlikely to be exposed to

neonicitinoids because the pesticides

are not expressed in pollen

or nectar. Neonics actually are less

toxic than some pesticides they

replace. Banning neonics, as some

activists have proposed, might

increase the use of other pesticides

that are more harmful to bees.

Bill McKibben, a well-known

environmental activist, even

blamed climate change for the

decline. Honeybees are not native

to North America and they have

thrived from California to North

Dakota. Blaming a one-degree

global temperature increase for

the decline of honeybees that have

already adapted across a wide

temperature range is the sort of

unscientific nonsense that makes it

difficult to address the real issues.

Beekeepers worry more about

other threats, like the varroa mite,

which has the appropriate scientific

name of varroa destructor.

Varroa mites attach themselves to

bees, weakening them and transmitting

illness. Reducing the threat

from varroa is a common topic

among beekeepers.

98 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM


Most research, including a

report from the Environmental

Protection Agency last year,

points to a combination of factors.

Honeybees can manage stresses,

but as pressures add up bees have

a more difficult time surviving.

Here, however, is a fact that

many people don’t know: The

number of honeybee colonies in

the United States and worldwide is

increasing. With prices for pollination

increasing, beekeepers have

responded to market incentives

with increased breeding to insure

against increased winter mortality.

Politicians can argue endlessly

about the possible causes of CCD,

but beekeepers live in the real

world where feedback is immediate.

If we don’t take the right

steps, adapting and changing hive

management, our bees will die.

If politicians get environmental

policy wrong, they still take credit

for “caring” about the issue, while

passing the real-world costs of

failure on to others.

Beekeepers constantly learn

more about the causes of CCD.

We work to keep our hives alive,

because for many apiarists it is

the way they earn their living;

but, also because we feel strongly

about protecting the bees in our

care.

I have been to numerous meetings

where beekeepers expressed

sadness at the loss of even a few

bees out of a hive of 50,000. Only

the free market can take advantage

of the local information and

personal incentives to demand

success in a way that politics consistently

fails.

Given a choice between trusting

politicians in Olympia or relying

on beekeepers motivated by profit

and personal care, the best hope

for honeybees are the beekeepers.

We are the ones ensuring that

spring weather will, once again,

bring the gentle buzz of honeybees

going about their work.

Environmental policy consultant and regular guest columnist Todd Myers is an avid apiarist,

more commonly known as a beekeeper. He’s all decked out for duty with his ‘family’

here. (Photo courtesy of Todd Myers)

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WHATCOMBUSINESSALLIANCE.COM | 99


Guest Column: Risk Management

Don C. Brunell | Past President, AWB

Don Brunell retired in January 2014 after 28 years as president of the Association of Washington

Business. Formed in 1904, the AWB is Washington’s oldest and largest statewide business

association. Its roster has more than 8,100 members representing 700,000 employees, serving

as both the state’s chamber of commerce and the manufacturing and technology association.

Membership includes major employers like Boeing and Microsoft, but 90 percent of AWB members

employ fewer than 100 people. More than half of AWB’s members employ fewer than 10. For more

about AWB, visit www.awb.org.

Putting risk in perspective

Where there is life,

there is risk. That’s

not some insightful

quotation, it’s just a fact.

We’re exposed to risk

from the moment we get

up in the morning – slip

and fall, dog bite, traffic

accident, lightning strike.

We can manage risk, we

can minimize risk, but we

cannot eliminate it.

That fact used to be accepted

as common sense, but in today’s

society, people have come to

believe that any degree of risk is

unacceptable. In fact, trial lawyers

have won lawsuits, not because

their clients were injured, but

because they feared they might be.

Why does this matter to you?

When government tries to ensure

a virtually risk-free environment,

it imposes regulations that are

needlessly punitive and costly. We

pay those costs through higher

prices and lost jobs.

Case in point: estimating environmental

risk. There are two

common ways to calculate risk.

One method is easier and cheaper;

the other is more accurate. Most

government agencies use the first

one.

It’s called the “deterministic”

method.

This method is easier for agencies

to use because it’s simple and

it doesn’t require a lot of data. The

only problem is it’s less accurate.

It tends to overestimate risk. But

that’s not all. Regulators routinely

take that overestimated risk level

and compound it by adding an

additional layer of buffer – “just to

be safe.” As a result, you end up

with regulations that are far more

restrictive and costly than necessary

to provide protection.

A recent study by HDR

Engineering estimates that

imposing these standards

in Washington would cost

local governments, ports,

ratepayers and businesses

billions, with little or no

environmental benefit.

Last November, the Washington

Department of Ecology announced

that it will likely use this method

as it updates the state’s Fish

Consumption Level – one factor in

a complex formula that determines

our state’s water quality standards.

That’s a problem. Ecology’s

starting point on this issue was

extreme to begin with. They

wanted to use the same FCR that

Oregon used, one which resulted

in water quality standards that

are virtually impossible to meet

because the technology to comply

doesn’t exist, and may not for

decades. In some cases, the allowable

levels are so low they can’t be

measured with existing technology.

A recent study by HDR

Engineering estimates that imposing

these standards in Washington

would cost local governments,

ports, ratepayers and businesses

billions, with little or no environmental

benefit.

Despite that, Ecology still plans

to use this less accurate method to

calculate environmental risks.

There is a better way.

It’s called the probabilistic

method, as in “probabilities.” It’s

more comprehensive, more precise

and more accurate.

This method analyzes large

amounts of data and thousands

of variables in order to calculate

a range of exposures and risks

across various populations and

circumstances. The result is a more

nuanced, realistic picture of environmental

risk.

Think of it this way: When you

walk out of your house, there’s a

risk you could get struck by lightning.

Lightning strikes occur every

day somewhere on the globe. But

how likely is it that it will happen

to you? That’s the question that is

better answered by the probabilistic

method.

100 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM


Ecology has used the probabilistic

method, and the EPA says

it provides the best basis for

decision-making. “Because the

results of the refined risk assessment

show the range of possible

environmental impacts and which

ones are most likely to occur, they

provide a better basis for decisionmaking.”

If that’s true, why isn’t Ecology

using it now? Good question.

It’s a question being asked by

the members of the Northwest

Pulp & Paper Association, who

recently submitted a report to

Ecology on the probabilistic method

prepared by ARCADIS, a global

leader in environmental engineering

and risk assessment. NWPPA

has asked Ecology to use the more

accurate probabilistic method as

the agency updates our state’s

water quality standards.

Let’s hope they listen.

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WHATCOMBUSINESSALLIANCE.COM | 101


Guest Column: Lean Business

Randall Benson | Lean Operations

Randall Benson is a management consultant, author, and Lean

master working out of Whatcom County. You can visit his blog

“The Lean Heretic” at www.leanheretic.com, and his website at

www.bensonconsulting.com.

The power of respect in Lean

Dr. Alan Dobzyniak, the highly

respected medical chief of staff

for Oakwood Health System in

Michigan, stood before about 100

of the hospital’s leaders at their

annual awards ceremony. He

began to talk, and emotions overcame

him. He paused, regained his

composure, and began again, “In

the 20 years that I’ve been on staff

at this hospital,” he said, “this is

the first time that management

actually asked the staff what they

thought we should do—and look at

the incredible results!”

Respect for people is the

hallmark of the famed

Toyota Lean method.

It’s the defining element

that distinguished Toyota

from previous methods of

process improvement.

When your Lean initiative

builds on respect for people,

expect magic.

Consider Dr. Dobzyniak and

Oakwood Health’s story.

At the awards ceremony, he was

referring to Oakwood’s creation

of the nation’s fastest emergency

room operation.. Oakwood’s

ER had been dangerously overcrowded

and visitors often waited

hours to see a doctor. It was not

uncommon to find Patients and

loved ones huddling outside the

ER in freezing weather because

there were no seats, or even standing

room, inside.

Just nine months after instituting

Lean principles, and extending

to ER staff the authority to explore

and apply their own ideas, they

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102 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM


7 Ways to Demonstrate Respect for Employees

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

Be clear about the ends, but let employees determine the means.

Invite employees to participate in improving their own work processes.

Encourage staff exploration, discovery, and application. Avoid asking

staff to blindly execute someone else’s plan.

Place high value on the experimental method. Celebrate well-run experiments,

regardless of the outcome.

Allow your staff to stop the process when they see something gone awry.

Celebrate learning from mistakes and improving processes.

Allow employees the latitude to fix customer problems and carry out

service recovery.

made a remarkable transformation:

The nation’s first guaranteed

30-minute ER!

Further, they established new

benchmarks for almost every

aspect of emergency care delivery.

• Instead of waiting hours to

be seen, patients received

evaluation by a doctor

within 15 minutes on average.

• Patient length of stay was

reduced by 70 percent.

• Overcrowding was nonexistent.

A visitor would find

only a few family members

in the waiting room.

• Satisfaction scores skyrocketed.

• Word of mouth spread, and

Oakwood rapidly attracted

new patients to the system,

producing a financial turnaround.

The ER leader, Corrine Victor,

earned recognition as the VHA

Healthcare Leader of the Year for

these accomplishments.

By any measure this was

a breakthrough, not just for

Oakwood, but also for emergency

room care throughout the United

States. More than 80 media

reports told Oakwood’s story,

and dozens of other hospital systems

visited them for tours and

insights.

The value of the Oakwood

story lies not just in its successes,

but also in the perspective of

how they got there. It was not

their first, but their fifth try. Yes,

fifth.

Oakwood tried and failed to

fix the same ER four times in a

five-year span. Not until they

implemented Lean care delivery,

anchored with newfound respect

for staff, did they achieve, and

exceed, their objectives.

When I first met Corrine, she

handed me the four thick consulting

reports prepared for her

over those years. The reports

contained many suggestions,

often based on Lean principles,

for every aspect of ER operations.

The staff did its best to comply

with the recommendations, but

the overcrowding and long waits

continued.

The consultants’ reports all

revealed the same fatal flaw: lack

of respect for employees.

Previously, the external

experts analyzed the information

they gathered from staff

and made their recommendations.

Managers and staff members

were expected to simply

implement the expert’s untested

ideas. During the four failed

attempts, staff members never

became masters of their own

fate. Oakwood failed to improve

because it didn’t honor the key

hallmark of Lean: respect for

people.

Corrinne, as the ER chief executive,

asked me to help her create

a quest – a journey of exploration

and discovery in which we

invited staff to search for their

own solutions. If they achieved

what we termed a “big change,”

a breakthrough innovation, they

could apply it to their ER.

The team engaged vigorously

in their quest, running almost

200 experiments and making

dozens of innovative changes.

During the nine-month journey,

they used their collective genius

to discover and ultimately apply

their “big change.” The result

– the nation’s fastest ER – was

a breakthrough far beyond their

expectations.

The biggest difference was how

their ideas and their capabilities

for innovation were respected

and celebrated.

In Oakwood’s case, respect for

people meant granting them the

authority to explore, to discover,

and to apply employee-developed

ideas. Oakwood described this

to the press as “employee-driven

innovation.” However you

describe it, that respect might

make the difference between

pedestrian results and a strong,

positive and prosperous breakthrough.

The difference that choked up

a chief of staff.

How does your organization

demonstrate respect for people?

How would you describe the

results? Send me a note at

rbenson@bensonconsulting.com.

I’d love to share your stories.

WHATCOMBUSINESSALLIANCE.COM | 103


Guest Column: Water Rights

Ken Mann | Whatcom County Councilman

Ken Mann is a member of the Whatcom County

Council and serves as Chair of the Finance

Committee. Ken has a background in finance and

civil engineering. Ken and his wife, Amy, have a

real estate development company that restores

commercial and residential buildings.

Water rights from two viewpoints

Through the eyes of a business owner, and of a member of County Council

Personally, we are not

concerned about the

effects of “exempt wells”

and other water rights

challenges facing Whatcom

County residents, farms,

fisheries, and businesses.

It is extremely unlikely

that our properties will

be impacted. The vast

majority of our properties

get water from a purveyor

with unassailable, perfected

water rights.

However, if I were in an agricultural

business in Whatcom

County, such as a farm growing

berries or a slaughterhouse—and if

I did not have legal water rights—

I’d be scared to death.

Here’s why, from the viewpoint

of an at-risk business owner: If

I do not have a water right, my

business is and always has been

vulnerable to senior water rights

holders. If a senior water right

demands an adjudication of water

resources and prevails, junior

water rights and those without

water rights can be shut down.

Period.

Looking at it from a seat on the

Whatcom County Council, this is

a tremendously important issue to

property owners and businesses

throughout the county, many of

whom have been operating for

years without water rights.

There are no more water rights

available; Whatcom County is

closed to new water withdrawals.

Thus, it is of critical importance

to Council members to stay

If a property owner wants

to dig a well, we (County)

can issue a permit to

dig the hole. But only

the state’s Department

of Ecology can grant (or

deny) permission to withdraw

water from that hole.

— Ken Mann, Whatcom County

Council Member

engaged on this issue. I know we

face some mistaken perceptions

about County government’s role in

the middle of all this.

For example, if a property

owner wants to dig a well, we

can issue a permit to dig the hole.

But only the state’s Department of

Ecology can grant (or deny) permission

to withdraw water from

that hole.

County government issues

building permits based on water

availability, as established by a

letter from a water purveyor or a

well driller’s report. However, if

you do not have access to water,

you can not get a building permit

- and that has always been the

case.

At issue recently, and the subject

of wildly inaccurate rumors

and internet hysteria, was a claim

that the County was debating a

ban on private wells on private

property, or elimination of build-

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104 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM


ing permits without a water right.

These claims were ridiculous for

many reasons.

We did vote (Jan. 28) to pursue

litigation that stems from a

Growth Management Hearings

Board ruling. The County is

appealing a ruling that delegated

unprecedented authority over

water resources to county governments.

Counties do not have (or want)

the legal responsibility, or the

scientific capacity, to adjudicate

water rights. We await a ruling

from the courts.

If anyone or anything eliminates

water withdrawals, (a.) it

will be the Washington State

Department of Ecology, not

Whatcom County, and (b.) apply

only to anyone not holding a legal

water right.

This has always been the case,

and the County cannot and will

not do anything to change that.

A panel discussed the potential travails of dissent and possible litigation over water rights

at a recent board meeting of the WBA at the Mt. Baker Theater in Bellingham: (from left)

Doug Allen, local official for the State Dept. of Ecology; Perry Eskridge with the Whatcom

County Realtors Association; moderator Jon Sitkin, an attorney with water-rights expertise,

and local berry producer Marty Maberry representing agricultural interests.

(Staff Photo)

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WHATCOMBUSINESSALLIANCE.COM | 105


Guest Column: Water Rights

Roger Almskaar | President, CAPR

Roger Almskaar has served as a land use

management consultant for the last 32 years. He

is president of the Citizens Alliance for Property

Rights, Whatcom Chapter.

106 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM

Sometimes a challenge is necessary

On Jan. 28, 2014 the

Whatcom County

Council voted 6-1 in

support of moving forward

in its lawsuit against the

state Growth Management

Hearings Board’s Final

Order in Case 12-2-0013

regarding water rights.

Whatcom County’s Citizens

Alliance for Property Rights

(CAPR) is a public-interest group

affiliated with the larger regional

CAPR organization comprising

many county-based chapters and

100s of members in our state

and in California. We support the

County Council in this move and

encourage them to stand strong

against the Growth Management

Hearings Board in this case.

During the last year, water

rights and resources became a

major county-wide land use and

resource issue. We have actively

participated in this Rural Element

process since mid-2009, now

going on its fifth year.

Many of our members, and

hundreds of other residents, own

acreage and businesses in the

county, and have been adversely

affected by this long, drawn-out

process.

This is due to two actions:

1. The re-start of the longneglected

Planning Unit,

which is the key party in

the Watershed Inventory

Area 1 (WRIA 1, most of

County Council votes 6-1 to fight a good fight

2.

Whatcom County) planning

process.

The June 7, 2013 Final

Decision and Order (FDO)

by the state Growth

Management Hearings

Board, saying the County’s

Rural Element rules and

policies were out of compliance

on protection of

surface and ground water

resources, as required by the

Growth Management Act

(GMA).

We need to secure the

best possible outcome in

a court of law, instead

of caving to the political

appointees on the

board, who lack relevant

knowledge of the geology,

hydrology, biology, history,

and culture of Whatcom

County.

Whatcom County government

wisely and properly sued the

board over this FDO, and the case

is headed to the state Court of

Appeals. While the topic of water

resource planning and regulation

is complex, many citizens believe

this challenge is in their best

short- and long-term interests, and

the county as a whole. We need

to secure the best possible outcome

in a court of law, instead of

caving to the political appointees

on the board, who lack relevant

knowledge of the geology, hydrology,

biology, history, and culture

of Whatcom County.

We offer these 6 major reasons

why this suit should be

fought by the County Council,

County Executive, and Prosecuting

Attorney, especially regarding

water quantity, including water

rights. There are many more reasons;

we think these are the most

critical at this time.

1. The Hearings Board’s decision

is flawed in several ways.

It dismisses controlling state

rules regarding basin closures specific

to WRIA 1, such as the law

that clearly states exempt wells

are allowed (WAC 173-501-070;

see p18, FDO). The Hearings Board

should not be allowed to substitute

its layperson-board judgment for

that of the Department of Ecology,

which rules as the sole state

authority on water rights.

The Hearings Board also wants

to impose an open-ended, oftendifficult

scientific burden on

individuals to prove a negative,

i.e., that a proposed well has zero

hydraulic continuity with streams

in the area. Such studies could

cost tens of thousands of dollars,

and can and will be challenged.

2. It often will be very problematic

to conclusively prove or disprove

that a new well will impair


in-stream flows to any significant,

measurable degree. This is because

of the very diverse physical geography

within most rural areas.

Key factors – including geology,

hydrology, level of ground water,

soils and slope – can vary greatly,

even within a few hundred feet

apart. Wells as close as 300 feet to

each other will often differ greatly

in both quality and quantity tests,

even within the same type of

landscape.

3. Simply giving in to the

Hearings Board will have severe

negative economic impact on a

large segment of citizens, and on

the county as a whole. To deny

people access to water based on

arbitrary “zero” standards will cost

many times the expense of this

litigation. The costs take the form

of reduced land values, lost tax

revenue due to massive land value

losses, lost opportunities for homes

and businesses including farms,

and ensuing litigation from those

affected.

4. The FDO greatly exaggerates

the negative impacts on water

quantity and quality of exempt

wells for homes in rural areas and

on fisheries. A recent Department

of Ecology rule for Clallam County

states that for a typical rural

home on a septic system, only

“10 percent of indoor water use is

assumed consumptive” (WAC 173-

518-085). Thus DOE has concluded

that 90 percent of the water consumed

indoors by this type of use

typically returns to groundwater.

Common knowledge holds that

the quantity of ground and surface

water withdrawn by local municipalities

(cities and utility districts)

and businesses, including farming,

is several times that of exempt

wells. This especially rings true

in the dry season when in-stream

flows are lowest.

Also, a high portion of these

withdrawals are discharged to

marine waters, not to rivers and

streams.

5. Water for allowed rural land

uses is not readily available from

approved systems in many areas

of Whatcom County, or too costly

for some. Effectively prohibiting

new exempt wells by excessive

regulation in rural areas will stifle

lawful plans, and lower land values.

6. The water rights issues raised

by the Hearings Board’s very

questionable decision have raised

serious concerns way beyond

Whatcom County. Several statewide

groups, such as Washington

Realtors, have committed resources

to support the county suit. And

several others, such as Farm

Bureau, Association of Washington

Counties, and Association of

Washington Business, are considering

joining in.

While we believe litigation

should always be the last resort,

we believe the history between the

parties, the facts, and the law in

this case justify going to court.

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WHATCOMBUSINESSALLIANCE.COM | 107


Whatcom Business Alliance

Fostering Business Success and Community Prosperity

Member News

Port partnering with

Ireland? Maybe…

The Port of Bellingham administration

has undertaken a deep,

intensive study of Harcourt

Developments Ltd in Dublin,

Ireland, to determine whether

the company will be selected to

develop about 11 acres of the central

waterfront between downtown

Bellingham and the Whatcom

Waterway. “We need to get into

their balance sheet,” said Rob Fix,

the executive director of The Port

who will lead the process.

And, it’s a two-way mirror.

Harcourt also will be determining

whether this smaller slice of their

original vision is financially viable

for them. Deadline is June 8 for

what Fix called “due diligence”

and a decision by both parties.

Harcourt originally proposed to

develop the Port’s entire 237 acres,

but the Port Commission nixed

the larger offer and approved the

current vetting process.

Harcourt must meet zoning regulations

and specs of the waterfront

master plan in the area that

includes the nearly 100-year-old

Granary Building. Upon approval

of ongoing talks, Commissioner

Dan Robbins stressed that this

was “not a selection,” and

Commissioner Mike McAuley

sought and received assurances

that the commission will play a

role in final determinations. Fix

said at the meeting, “We’ll keep

you informed every step of the

way,” Fix said.

Harcourt, which would work

collaboratively with multiple local

companies if selected, is best

known for its Titanic Museum and

development at the site where that

infamous vessel was built.

SILVER REEF RISING HIGHER

Silver Reef Hotel Casino Spa

has broken ground on its sixth

expansion of its 12-year existence

– a larger lobby, a tower

almost doubling rooms to 205, a

3,000-square-foot meeting space,

and a bar.

Lummi Nation Chairman Tim

Ballew II said in a news release,

“…This new construction will provide

more jobs (to) help grow the

economy for the greater region.”

Scheduled completion date is June,

2015.

PEOPLES PROMOTES PEOPLE

Peoples Bank announced three

recent promotions: Mark Swanson

to Vice President as branch manager

for Cordata and West Lynden;

Shannon Day to assistant vice

president a branch manager for

the Fairhaven office in the Haggen

Fairhaven Market, and Steve Gray

to assistant vice president as a

senior real estate loan officer at

the Bellingham Real Estate Loan

Center in the Barkley District.

$1K GIFT TO LOCAL HS

Signs Plus is giving $1,000

to the student body of one of 10

county high schools based on voting

by their constituents through

social media. Go to SignsPlusNW.

com/Whatcom-County-highschool-1000-giveaway/

for details

by March 31.

“Our owners believe that supporting

local students and schools

is a vital part of having a healthy

and prosperous community,” said

the company’s president, Jim

Sutterfield (671-7165 for further

info, or JimS@SignsPlusNW.com)

ALL-AMERICAN MARINE

All American Marine is designing

and building two 250-passenger

ferries for the King County

Ferry District on an $11.8 million

contract.

Mark Always, founder of the company Penumbra Tables, won two categories of prize funding in a recent “Pitch Fest” staged by Red Rokk

and The Big Idea Lab with his digitized Beer Pong table. (Photo courtesy of Red Rokk Interactive.)

108 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM


RED ROKK/BIG IDEA ‘PITCH’

Red Rokk Interactive and the

Big Idea Lab stage a monthly

“Pitch Fest” in which entrepreneurs/inventors

make a presentation

to a judging panel of local

business leaders for an investment

prize for best business idea.

The latest winner was Mark

Alway and his Penumbra Tables

company’s interactive beer pong

table, replete with digital scoring,

lighted sensors, air compressors,

and a phone app. Alway plan to

take the table to the Las Vegas

market where beer pong is an

organized industry.

WBA member Ken Bell, owner

of Best Recycling, was one of the

judges, along with Dusty Gulleson,

founder of eResources; Ed Love,

WWU director of marketing; Port

Commissioner Dan Robbins, and

Rosemarie Francis, founder of

Etelu.

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6) ***Double ZEPA Filtration (change in seconds, no tools).

7) Portable and Lightweight (14.5H x 12.5W x 6.5D — 5lbs.)

Silent Night® with ZEPA® technology

is scientifically proven to be more

effective with particulate removal than

any air purifier on the market today!

*CADR 139 (Clean Air Delivery Rate): This “higher than we claim” rating was certified by AHAM testing

(Association of Household Appliance Manufacturers) in April 2013. The volume of air in a 13’ x 16’ room passes

through PT-100 every 15 minutes: that’s 96 x each day with virtually 100% particle reduction.

**Collects all Sizes of Particulate: A patented ion drive technology uses electrostatic force to draw air through 2

highly efficient filters that collect all sizes of particulate (including virus-sized and smaller).

***Silent Night® PT-100 with Double ZEPA® technology is lightweight, portable, easy to maintain, costs less than

12 cents a day to operate and purifies up to 250 square feet. An expensive and noisy HEPA machine (2x more to

buy; 4x more to operate).

Call me if you want to enjoy the cleanest, most particulate-free air possible!

John Smith, Nature Tech Independent Representative: (360) 500-7546

WHATCOMBUSINESSALLIANCE.COM | 109


Ask the Experts: Life in the Tech Lane

Tech Help Staff | Big Fresh

Experts at Tech Help in Bellingham, a division of Big Fresh,

provide answers to the questions that are trending among

clients. If you have a tech question for our experts, send

an email to getanswers@gotechhelp.com

Free desktop remote access tools

Recently LogMeIn, one

of our favorite remote

desktop tools, suddenly

pulled the plug on the free

version of its remote access

tool. Now you’ll pay to

keep using it.

Or, switch to an alternative.

We thought it would be helpful to

come up with a list of alternatives

for you to have a free, remote

desktop service like LogMeIn.

Teamviewer

Teamviewer supports Windows,

OS X, Linux, Android, and iOS,

and is free for personal use. It’s

probably the most obvious and

popular alternative to LogMeIn.

Teamviewer offers remote support

and management, in that you

don’t necessarily need to have the

remote side set up before you need

to connect. Further, it sports useful

features like:

• Wake-on-LAN to wake up a

sleeping computer and put

it back to sleep when you’re

finished;

• File transfer capabilities;

• Clipboard pass-through;

• Support for connecting from

mobile devices like phones

or tablets;

• Support for online meetings

and collaboration, so

multiple people can connect

to one host, or share a session…and

much more.

The beauty of Teamviewer is

that all features are free, setup is

incredibly easy, and the app actually

has more features built into

it than you’ll probably ever really

need.

Chrome Remote

Desktop

Chrome Remote Desktop supports

Windows and OS X (and

Linux, sort of), and is completely

Top Technology Trends in 2014

By the Staff at Tech Help/Big Fresh

Space tourism

Virgin Galactic is scheduled to become the first private

commercial “spaceliner” to blast tourists into space,

with an inaugural trip in 2014 carrying its founder, Sir

Richard Branson. He and his children, Holly and Sam,

will lift off on SpaceShipTwo from the Spaceport America

in New Mexico.

Wearable tech

Google is expected to ship its groundbreaking, augmented-reality

glasses, Google Glass, to the public in

2014, expanding the wearable tech market. Samsung’s

Galaxy Gear watch and the Pebble Smartwatch will continue

their usefulness as developers create more apps for

them. Health-tracking devices like the Nike Fuel Band,

Jawbone Up, and Fitbit Force will continue to drive the

health technology marketplace into the mainstream.

Internet of things

At the 2013 IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin,

the technology company Philips demonstrated a concept

called the HomeCooker Next that could time cook,

change temperature, and stir food -- using a smartphone.

The Nest thermostat not only can control your home’s

temperature remotely, it also learns your behavior and

makes adjustments accordingly.

The networking of our physical world will continue to

boom in 2014. Connected devices are no longer just limited

to smartphones and computers. Everything from door

locks and home appliances to bikes and watches can now

be networked.

110 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM


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WHATCOMBUSINESSALLIANCE.COM | 111


free for personal and commercial

use. You have to install it in

Chrome on any computer you

want to connect to.

You’ll have to log into Chrome

on any computer you want to

connect to, which is a bit of a

bummer, but the great thing is that

it runs in your browser, it’s supereasy

to set up, and it’s remarkably

fast.

It’s not packed with additional

features. Yet if all you need is to

do some quick, cross-platform

troubleshooting or access some

files remotely, it’s fast and free,

and uses a web browser you probably

already have installed.

you get more features, such as

clipboard syncing, and file sync

and transfer, and more. That’s the

catch, though—there’s a VNC client

and server that supports every

operating system, mobile and

desktop.

And as long as you know what

you’re doing and set it up properly

you’ll be able to connect to any

system you control, anywhere you

have internet access, completely

for free.

The “Official” VNC software is

RealVNC, which offers its client

and server apps for Windows, OS

X, Linux, Android, iOS, and even

Chrome (and will happily add features

and support if you’re willing

to pay for them).

Experts at Tech Help in

Bellingham, a division of Big

Fresh, provide answers to the

questions that are trending azmong

clients. If you have a tech question

for our experts, send an email to

getanswers@gotechhelp.com

The beauty of Teamviewer

is that all features are

free, setup is incredibly

easy, and the app actually

has more features built

into it than you’ll probably

ever really need.

It’s not perfect; Chrome Remote

Desktop has no mobile apps or

support (although the word is,

that’s coming soon), has some

trouble with multiple displays,

and it’s pretty featureless when

it comes to things like wake-on-

LAN, file transfer, streaming, and

other support tools. But what you

trade in heft you get back in simplicity

and ease-of-use.

VNC

Virtual Network Computing

is less of a specific product and

more of a platform. It uses existing

protocols to send keyboard

and mouse actions to a remote

computer, and in turn it sends the

screen from that remote system

back to your viewer.

Depending on the VNC client

and server software you use,

112 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM


MAGAZINE

The Publication of The Whatcom Business Alliance

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ideas and trends that are shaping our county. Business Pulse Magazine

is the official magazine of the Whatcom Business Alliance (WBA) and is

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Please complete and mail to: Business Pulse Magazine

2423 E. Bakerview Road

Or, subscribe online at: Bellingham, Washington

businesspulse.com 98226

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Anderson Paper ........................... 112

Archer Halliday ............................63

Bank of the Pacific .........................14

Banner Bank................................ 7

Barkley Company ......................... 116

Bellingham Athletic Club.....................11

Bellingham Bells ...........................19

Bellingham Fitness .........................89

Best Western Lakeway Inn .................. 51

Big Fresh ................................. 41

BP Cherry Point Refinery.................... 31

Brooks Property & Storage .................. 81

Charter College, Bellingham Campus .........56

Chmelik Sitkin & Davis......................37

Chocolate Necessities.......................85

Chrysalis Inn and Spa.......................35

City of Blaine ..............................85

City of Sumas .............................97

Dakota Creek Golf & Country................ 61

DeWaard & Bode............................ 5

Diane Padys Photography ...................16

Dynasty Cellars Winery .....................99

Evergreen Christian School..................23

Exxel Publishing............................53

Faber Construction .........................25

First Federal Savings........................ 91

113 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM

ADVERTISER INDEX

Great Floors ...............................77

Gym Star Sports Center.....................45

Hardware Sales ............................88

Hotel Bellwether ...........................86

I-5 Parking ................................93

Industrial Credit Union .....................94

Kulshan Brewing Company..................80

Lake Padden Golf Course....................65

Larson Gross CPAs & Consultants ............25

LaserPoint Awards..........................17

LegalShield ...............................101

Metcalf Hodges ............................43

Mills Electric..............................107

Nature Tech ..............................109

North Bellingham Golf Course............... 71

North Cascades Institute....................50

Northwest Propane.........................97

Northwood Casino .........................79

NW SkyFerry...............................48

Oltman Insurance ..........................33

PeaceHealth St Joseph Medical Center.......102

Peoples Bank ..............................69

Print & Copy Factory .......................27

Q Laundry ................................101

R & R Excavating .........................109

ReBound Physical Therapy ..................23

Red Rokk Interactive .......................95

Rice Insurance .............................27

Saturna Capital ............................. 2

Scrap It/Stow It ............................47

Semiahmoo Resort Golf Spa.................74

Shuksan Golf Club ......................... 61

Signs Plus .................................90

Silver Reef Hotel Casino Spa ............... 114

Skagit State Bank ......................... 115

Skagit Valley Casino Resort..................84

St Paul’s Academy.........................105

Sudden Valley Golf & Country ...............67

TD Curran .................................. 9

The Willows Inn on Lummi Island ............111

Transgroup Worldwide......................87

United Way................................78

VSH Certified Public Accountants ............87

WECU ....................................57

Western Refinery Services................... 21

Whidbey Island Bank ........................ 3

Whirlwind Services .........................17

Wilson Motors .............................15

Windermere Real Estate ....................35

Windows on the Bay .......................39

WHATCOMBUSINESSALLIANCE.COM | 113

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