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Good Gracious! High-flying Grace Borsari Receives Lifetime Achievement Award PLUS

Business Person of the Year Small Business of the Year Start-Up of the Year

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VOL. 44 | NO. 2 PUBLISHER | Tony Larson

ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER | Melissa Vail Coffman EDITOR-IN-CHIEF | Mike McKenzie Bellingham 1619 Kentucky St. 360.734.5717

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LIFESTYLE EDITOR | Danielle Larson COPY EDITOR | Larry Coffman CONTRIBUTING WRITERS | Dave Brumbaugh, Sherri Huleatt, Cheryl Stritzel McCarthy, Mike McKenzie, Tara Nelson, Patti Rowlson, Paul Twedt, Mary Louise Van Dyke GUEST COLUMNISTS | Gerald Baron, Dana Brandt ART DIRECTOR | Scott Book PHOTOGRAPHY | Scott Book, Tiffany Brooks Cover photo by Scott Book SENIOR ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE | Jon Strong ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE | Ashley Butenschoen ADMINISTRATION | Danielle Larson

— WBA BOARD OF DIRECTORS — BOARD CHAIR | Doug Thomas, CEO, Bellingham Cold Storage EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE | Jane Carten, President/Director, Saturna Capital; Pam Brady, Director NW Government & Public Affairs, BP Cherry Point; John Huntley, President/CEO, Mills Electric; Tony Larson, President, Whatcom Business Alliance; Doug Thomas, President/CEO, Bellingham Cold Storage; Josh Turrell, Partner, Larson Gross PLLC BOARD OF DIRECTORS | Janelle Bruland, President/CEO, MSNW; Tyler Byrd, Founder/President, Red Rokk Interactive; Andy Enfield, Vice President, Enfield Farms; Bryant Engebretson, Owner, Tradewinds Capital; Jonathan Ensch, VP/Sr. Relationship Manager Commercial Banking, Washington Federal; Mitch Faber, Partner, Adelstein, Sharpe & Serka; Sandy Keathley, Founder, K & K Industries; Lynn Murphy, Sr. Government Affairs Rep, Puget Sound Energy; Laura McKinney, NW Regional Government & Public Affairs, Alcoa Intalco Works; Becky Raney, Co-owner, Print & Copy Factory; Sarah Rothenbuhler, Owner/CEO, Birch Equipment; Patti Rowlson, Owner, PR Consulting; Galen Smith, Owner, Coldstream Farms; Billy VanZanten, President, Western Refinery Services, Josh Wright, VP/Broker, Bell-Anderson Insurance For editorial comments and suggestions, write editor@ businesspulse.com. The magazine is published bimonthly at 2423 E. Bakerview Rd., Bellingham, WA 98226. 360.746.0418. The yearly subscription rate is $30 (U.S.). For a free digital subscription, visit businesspulse.com. Entire contents copyrighted © 2019 Business Pulse. All rights reserved. POSTMASTER Send address changes to Business Pulse, 2423 E. Bakerview Rd., Bellingham, WA 98226.

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CASCADIA International Women’s Film Festival

JCPenny Building: Dead Or Alive? By Mike McKenzie

[This compilation was gleaned from Whatcom Superior Court minutes, Bellingham City Council minutes, news releases, off-the-record conversations, and various media reports, especially an article by reporter John Stark in Cascadia Weekly.] During the Summer of 2018, for our regular Business Pulse Q&A feature, Jeff Kochman and Jeff McClure discussed their offer to purchase that iconic but 30-years-vacant JCPenney Building and their plan to double it to four stories high and develop it for mixed-use offices, retail, apartments, and parking. The interview didn’t appear as planned in the Sept.-Oct. issue. Nor in Nov.-Dec. Nor in Jan.-Feb. Nor now—eight months later. Complications have compounded, and confounded the principle players. The deal remains stagnant, and the building stands vacant, as it has since 1988. Numerous delays have resulted from—well, put it this way—if you can follow all the characters and the plotline, you probably liked Tolstoy’s War and Peace... Sept. 2018: Kochman and McClure proferred $712,000 for the building and a commitment of $12 million to expand and renovate it. They’d arranged the deal with Bruce Tolchin, who lived in California and controlled Whatcom Center LLC, which bought the building in 1998. Sept. 26: Doug Tolchin, Bruce’s brother, surreptitiously created an

LLC titled “1308-1320 Cornwall.” Doug and his mother, Mary, and an associate previously managed Whatcom Center LLC’s business, until legally assigning control back to Bruce in 2010. Oct. 8: Bellingham City Council approved a public-private partnership with the Kochman-McClure team. The City committed $2.1 million to buy the land that the building sits on, with the caveat that the developers would lease it. A closing date was set for November. Same Day: Doug Tolchin moved the building and property from one holding company to another. He notified the City and the developers that Whatcom Center LLC didn’t have the rights to sell and threatened to sue if the sale took place. Nov. 2: Bruce Tolkin countered with a lawsuit against his brother, claiming full authority to sell. Nov. 19: Bruce Tolkin died. He had signed a document that day moving the closing date of the sale to Feb. 1. The case was frozen. His $50 million estate trust manager sought to oversee the case. Soon after: Mary Tolchin sued to stop the trust manager in California. Feb. 8: Whatcom County Superior Court Judge Robert Olson ruled no, temporarily, on an extension to close the sale, yet Judge Olson scheduled two more hearings here in early March on who has rights to what. Meanwhile, the developers and the City confirmed to Business Pulse that they’re still on board. P+

MARCH/APRIL 2019 BUSINESSPULSE.COM | 9

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Thought the JCPenney Building had new life—high drama unfolds. Also, pet-care tech, farmers market at Barkley, and what?—a library at the airport.

+ MORE

By Tara Nelson

RMC Architects | Stephanie Bower, Architectural Illustration

NEWSMAKERS • NUMBERS • OUT AND ABOUT MARKETING • SMALL BUSINESS • HEALTH • GUEST COLUMNS

FEATURE

DEPARTMENTS

inside

PULSE

Four days of films directed by women, workshops, and Academy Award-winning filmmaker Freida Lee Mock

Dynamic Duos: Father-Son & Lean Six Sigma Interview by Mike McKenzie Jeff Gray and his son, Mason, moved to Bellingham last year and they have cut a wide swath into their life mission—instructing and guiding business leaders through the internationally acclaimed Lean and Six Sigma training. In addition to the full curriculum they created and teach in Bellingham Technical College’s Continuing Education Program, businesses contract with them through Jeff’s company, SixSigmaTV.Net. What’s the difference between Lean and Six Sigma Mason Gray: Lean, in short, is eliminating waste in business. Jeff Gray: Six Sigma reduces variations and defects. You merged them. Why? JG: Combined, they work together to eliminate the costs of poor-quality performance, the things that sink a business. MG: You can do one without the other, but it makes more sense to add the simplicity of Lean to the reliability of Six Sigma. It’s a happy marriage.

What’s at the core? JG: Teaching businesses to eliminate where they’re bleeding (wasting resources) and reducing their variabilities so they can innovate and grow. In a nutshell, the keys are to standardize and stabilize, then innovate and grow to the next level of excellence and productivity. Teach it where? MG: Courses at Bellingham Technical College (BTC), where I graduated in 2018 from the fisheries and aquaculture science program. We’ve written BTC’s curriculum for Lean Six Sigma and we teach the courses. What’s the methodology? MG: With clients, we hold a variety of workshops focusing on waste, variation, innovation, and how to build market share and revenue growth using the DMAIC Lean Six Sigma methodology. [Note: DMAIC is a five-phase process—define, measure, analyze, improve, control.]

Photo by Scott Book

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As a Time magazine reporter, Cheryl Crooks spent much of her career telling other people’s stories. Today, she’s focused on helping women tell their stories through film. Crooks is the Executive Director and Founder of CASCADIA International Women’s Film Festival, an annual nonprofit event in April that exclusively showcases women-directed films. This festival comes to the Pickford Film Center in Bellingham from April 11-14. “A woman’s perspective is too rarely seen in film,” Crooks said. “An art form that teaches, informs, inspires, and motivates is missing an essential perspective on humanity when women’s voices are not heard.” CASCADIA also provides a venue and support system for women filmmakers and puts Bellingham on the map as a film destination, along with CASCADIA’s targeted markets of New York, Los Angeles, Portland, Vancouver, B.C. and Seattle. And the ARC Film Festival 2020 will show a selection of CASCADIA’s films in Mainz, Germany. The 2019 film lineup includes feature-length and short documentaries, narratives, and animated films from around the world. Ajo, a film by 2017 CASCADIA Director More Raca of Kosovo that qualified for an Oscar nomination this year, follows a young woman who escapes an early marriage arranged by her father. Indigenous films include Edge of the Knife, shot entirely in the Haida Gwaii language, and OChiSkwaCho, directed by Jules Koostachin—a returning CASCADIA Director and band member of the Attawapiskat First Nation. Koostachin presents a spiritually ailing, elderly, two-spirit woman who must decide whether to stay with her grandchildren or follow a sacred being known to many Indigenous people as a spiritual messenger. Western Washington University joins CASCADIA to present China Love, directed by Australian Olivia Martin-McGuire. The film explores China’s emergence from its restrictive, highly traditional past to a globalized nation, as seen through the lens of its booming wedding industry. On April 12, a film and conversation event features four-time Oscar-nominated Director Freida Lee Mock, best known for her films Anita and “Maya Lin: A Strong, Clear Vision,” for which she won an Oscar. Her newest documentary is “RUTH: Justice Bader Ginsberg In Her Own Words.” For more info, visit cascadiafilmfest.org

MARCH/APRIL 2019 BUSINESSPULSE.COM | 59

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Q&A with father-and-sonduo, Jeff and Mason Gray, intent on eliminating your waste and defects with Lean Six Sigma methodology.

59

Your menu for After Hours entertainment: some womendirected films, some comedy, some jazz, some classic rock, and some hot sax.

BUSINESS

+

PERSON

OF THE YEAR LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT

SMALL BUSINESS

START-UP

By Business Pulse Staff

The ABCs (and an M) of the 2019 Business Person of the Year finalists—Appel-Birnel-Cowden-and-Mullett— involve diverse industries of dairy farming, home healthcare, gravel and concrete services, and boatbuilding. On March 21, in the ballroom of the Semiahmoo Resort, Golf & Spa, the award recipient will be announced. Annually across the last 34 years, the Business Pulse Awards have brought special attention to outstanding business success stories that also incorporate invaluable service to the community. Presented by the Whatcom Business Alliance, awards also are bestowed on a Small Business of the Year and a Start-Up of the Year.

The evening draws to a climactic conclusion with the recognition of a person for an entire career body of work—the Lifetime Achievement Award. The 2019 honor goes to a woman who helped start a business in a small, rented space in Lower B.C. that has grown into a global conglomerate. She is Grace Borsari, who co-founded Alpha Technologies, then developed her own manufacturing arm of that business (Altair Advanced Industries, creating more than 400 jobs in Bellingham), and now sits as CEO of her firm, G.B. Enterprises, managing commercial real estate and a fleet of aircraft. MARCH/APRIL 2019 BUSINESSPULSE.COM | 27

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Drum roll, please. The finest of the fine in local business are lined up. Check out their remarkable stories, and we’ll see on March 21 who stands out as Business Person of the Year, as well as the Small Business and the Start-Up of the Year, along with an honor for achievements over a lifetime body of works in Whatcom County industry.

your cue to look for additional content online @ businesspulse.com


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publisher’s note

The Biggest Night of the Year Stars Local Entrepreneurs and Their Hard Work, Innovation, and Contributions To Community TONY LARSON

Publisher, Business Pulse

O

n March 21, in the grand ballroom at the Semiahmoo Resort and Spa, I invite you to join Business Pulse magazine and the Whatcom Business Alliance, to honor individuals and companies who are finalists for the Business Person, Small Business, and Start-Up Business of the Year awards. In addition, we will honor Grace Borsari, co-founder and former top executive of Alpha Technologies and CEO of her own manufacturing company within the Alpha conglomerate, Altair Advanced Industries, with the Business Pulse Lifetime Achievement Award. On Dec. 10, 2018, EnerSys, a public company listed as ENS on the New York Stock Exchange, announced its acquisition of the Alpha Technologies group of companies headquartered in Bellingham. Alpha had been in the top spot on the Business Pulse list of Top 100 Private Companies in Whatcom County for the last five years. The sale closed for $750 million, consisting of $650 million in cash and $100 million in EnerSys shares. Borsari will join many Whatcom County business icons whose names forever will be enshrined on the annual Lifetime Achievement perpetual trophy in their honor. You can read more about Grace and the other finalists starting on page 27 of this issue. One story that has not been told is that when Grace and co-founder Fred Kaiser were shopping the company for sale, they had other offers—even more lucrative

ones. Their revenues topped $800 million in the 2018 Top 100 listing. Their line in the sand was that they wanted to sell to a company that shared their values and recognized the value of the facility and employees in Whatcom County and keep them here. That mentality demonstrated by Borsari and Kaiser is foundational to the Whatcom Business Alliance and to this event itself, which is entering its 33rd year. Business success is the single largest driver of community prosperity. When businesses are strong, they can hire more employees, pay better wages and benefits, contribute more to the local tax base in order to provide essential public services, and give back to the community through philanthropy and thousands of hours of employee volunteer time. By lifting up and recognizing local businesses and individuals in the business community doing good things, we believe it will encourage others to strive for the same. If you’d like to join us on March 21, go to BusinessPulse.com right away to register, becaues the event will sell out. WBA Update Last year, the Whatcom Business Alliance kicked off the WBA Youth Engagement Initiative with 300-plus high school students from six local high schools participating at Bellingham Technical College. We have a vision for a more dynamic economy that offers possibilities and clear pathways for local youth and families to

6 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM MARCH/APRIL 2019

find livable wage jobs in local businesses and industries. The WBA Youth Engagement Initiative works in partnership with employers, educators, and like-minded organizations to create synergies that advance youth employment and career opportunities in Whatcom County. YES Whatcom and WBA Policy Center Now, the WBA is launching “YES Whatcom” (Youth Employment Services). One of the services will have local companies creating a profile on a central website promoting their company and its opportunities open to students, their parents, counselors, and educators. Stay tuned. We’ll have more details coming. Also, we’ll be launching the WBA Policy Center. If you or your business are not paying close attention to public policy issues of importance, you will be governed by those who are. The WBA Policy Center will be an easy way for you to not only keep up on those issues, but to potentially change their trajectory. There is strength in numbers, so your support is meaningful. My hope is that you would consider supporting the WBA Policy Center. Mark your calendar for May 16. The WBA Leaders of Industry Issues Forum will allow you to learn about the issues coming up, and to meet a number of other business leaders who have committed to being part of the solution. Enjoy the issue! Tony Larson


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leading edge RMC Architects | Stephanie Bower, Architectural Illustration

NEWSMAKERS • NUMBERS • OUT AND ABOUT MARKETING • SMALL BUSINESS • HEALTH • GUEST COLUMNS

JCPenny Building: Dead Or Alive? By Mike McKenzie

[This compilation was gleaned from Whatcom Superior Court minutes, Bellingham City Council minutes, news releases, off-the-record conversations, and various media reports, especially an article by reporter John Stark in Cascadia Weekly.] During the Summer of 2018, for our regular Business Pulse Q&A feature, Jeff Kochman and Jeff McClure discussed their offer to purchase that iconic but 30-years-vacant JCPenney Building and their plan to double it to four stories high and develop it for mixed-use offices, retail, apartments, and parking. The interview didn’t appear as planned in the Sept.-Oct. issue. Nor in Nov.-Dec. Nor in Jan.-Feb. Nor now—eight months later. Complications have compounded, and confounded the principle players. The deal remains stagnant, and the building stands vacant, as it has since 1988. Numerous delays have resulted from—well, put it this way—if you can follow all the characters and the plotline, you probably liked Tolstoy’s War and Peace... Sept. 2018: Kochman and McClure proferred $712,000 for the building and a commitment of $12 million to expand and renovate it. They’d arranged the deal with Bruce Tolchin, who lived in California and controlled Whatcom Center LLC, which bought the building in 1998. Sept. 26: Doug Tolchin, Bruce’s brother, surreptitiously created an

LLC titled “1308-1320 Cornwall.” Doug and his mother, Mary, and an associate previously managed Whatcom Center LLC’s business, until legally assigning control back to Bruce in 2010. Oct. 8: Bellingham City Council approved a public-private partnership with the Kochman-McClure team. The City committed $2.1 million to buy the land that the building sits on, with the caveat that the developers would lease it. A closing date was set for November. Same Day: Doug Tolchin moved the building and property from one holding company to another. He notified the City and the developers that Whatcom Center LLC didn’t have the rights to sell and threatened to sue if the sale took place. Nov. 2: Bruce Tolkin countered with a lawsuit against his brother, claiming full authority to sell. Nov. 19: Bruce Tolkin died. He had signed a document that day moving the closing date of the sale to Feb. 1. The case was frozen. His $50 million estate trust manager sought to oversee the case. Soon after: Mary Tolchin sued to stop the trust manager in California. Feb. 8: Whatcom County Superior Court Judge Robert Olson ruled no, temporarily, on an extension to close the sale, yet Judge Olson scheduled two more hearings here in early March on who has rights to what. Meanwhile, the developers and the City confirmed to Business Pulse that they’re still on board. P+

MARCH/APRIL 2019 BUSINESSPULSE.COM | 9


leading edge NEWSMAKERS

People On the Move...

Babbit

Ueberroth

Everett Babbitt, CEO of Bellingham Marine, has announced his retirement, effective Dec. 31, but he will continue as a Director of the company. Babbitt joined Bellingham Marine in 1984 and held a variety of positions until 2004, when he was named President and CEO. Under his leadership, the company became recognized as the international leader in marina design-build construction and tripled its revenues. It now builds more coastal projects annually than all of its competitors combined. “As with many of my colleagues, I’ve been incredibly fortunate to be able to spend my career with Bellingham Marine,” Everett said. “I believe our success is based on our commitment to innovation, building a superior product, serving our clients’ needs, and hiring top talent.” Owner and Chairman Joe Ueberroth, who also will assume the title of CEO, shared his appreciation of Everett’s contributions. “We’ve been extremely fortunate to have Everett at the helm of our company for the better part of the last two decades,” Ueberroth said. “Having him continue on as a member of our Board, and available for special projects, provides our team with confidence that we will take this transition in stride.” Bellingham Marine specializes in floating docks, platforms and wave attenuation systems for marinas worldwide. Michael Bayless has been promoted to CEO of Barkley Company in Bellingham, succeeding owner Stowe Talbot, who will remain as President. Bayless will be responsible for the daily operation of the company, working with the management team on an ambitious 10-year growth plan as well as working with public, private, and community partners on the

Bayless

Cornelsen

continued development of Barkley Village. Prior to joining Barkley last July, Bayless served as CFO of Dawson Construction. A 25-year resident of Bellingham, Bayless has a broad background in real estate development, finance, and construction. He currently serves on the PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center Foundation Board. Talbot said, “I’m excited to hand off some of my responsibilities to Michael. He brings exactly the right set of skills and work experience to the job. This will allow me to devote more time to master planning and long-range business strategy.” Barkley’s commercial and residential spaces now enjoy near 100% occupancy. Among the new construction projects the company will embark on this year are a built-to-suit office structure and a 90-unit apartment complex. In the coming years, Barkley Company anticipates the build-out of several hundred more residential units, both for sale and rent. The company also will expand its commercial office and retail holdings and further develop its open-space and pedestrian infrastructure. Barkley Village is a 250-acre urban village with a mix of residential, retail, office and civic uses in Bellingham. Barkley Company owns the majority of land and buildings in this neighborhood center, and serves as its lead developer. Started some 25 years ago, the development is owned by second-generation siblings, Stowe and Jane Talbot. Also see www. barkleyvillage.com. Riley Cornelsen has joined Chad Fisher Construction (CFC) in Burlington as a project manager. He previously worked for GK Knutson in Bellingham as a project manager and estimator. “We’re excited to have Riley join the team,” Co-owner Duke Fisher commented. “In working closely with him on many projects

10 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM MARCH/APRIL 2019

Steenkamps

as a subcontractor, we appreciated his thorough attention to detail and knowledge in the industry, and we’re intrigued by the relationships he built with clients and co-workers. We’re confident he’ll be a great addition to the Chad Fisher Construction family.” Cornelsen, a Ferndale resident, has 10 years’ experience in the construction industry and earned his bachelor’s degree in construction management from Washington State University. Outside of his construction work, Cornelsen volunteers as a coach for both Ferndale High School and Ferndale Youth Football and is a member of the Ferndale School District Bond Task Force & Oversight Committee. Ansa and Johan Steenkamp—an emigree couple from South Africa—are the new owners of Merry Maids of Whatcom County. “We’re both passionate about the Merry Maids mission and culture,” Ansa said. “We want all our home and business customers to enjoy a clean and healthy environment, have time to relax, and not stress about cleaning.” The Whatcom franchise has 13 professionally trained, bonded, and insured employees, with a 720-day incident-free safety record, Ansa said. And it uses state-of-the-art equipment, with environmentally friendly cleaning supplies, she added. Johan said, “We fell in love with the Pacific Northwest eight years ago when we emigrated from South Africa. Ansa always is looking at opportunities to help and develop people and also likes a clean and tidy house, so Merry Maids was the perfect opportunity.” Merry Maids offers regular home cleanings on a weekly, semi-weekly or monthly schedule. Special services include deep cleanings, move-in and move-out cleanings, and post-construction or refurbishment cleanings. It also serves some commercial clients. P+


leading edge NEWSMAKERS ‘LIBRARY LIFTOFF’ Airport’s New Digital Innovation

Bobbie Ruth Langley

Eco-Friendlier Cremation Alternative For Pets

Radiant Heart After-Care For Pets in Bellingham is offering water cremation as an eco-friendlier alternative to traditional firebased cremation services. With a growing demand for its boutique funeral services, Radiant Heart’s owner Bobbie Ruth Langley had been considering adding a second natural-gas-fired crematorium, but she was concerned about the additional environmental impact. “Flame cremation of one pet can produce the same amount of CO2 as a 500-mile car trip,” Langley explained. Two years ago, she learned about a Seattle business that was offering a new water-cremation process that reduces an animal’s remains to bone, using water and alkali, rather than fire. The result of both water and traditional flame-based cremation is the same—the pet’s body is reduced to bone, Langley said. However, the processes, and their effects on the environment, are very different. Traditional cremation uses a flame fed by natural gas, and the by-product is CO2. Water cremation uses alkaline hydrolysis, and the by-product is an effluviant that is released directly into the sewer system. Estimates are that water cremation has 1/10th the carbon footprint of traditional cremation. “We believe water cremation is an attractive option to pet parents who care about the environment,” Langley said. Putting her money where her mouth is, as they say, Langley bought and installed the new water-cremation equipment at a cost of $100,000. She raised the funds through a combination of business savings, an equipment loan, and a personal loan. Radiant Heart After-Care for Pets, Whatcom County’s sole pet-only funeral home, opened in the Fall of 2013 and serves pet owners as far south as Seattle.

Here’s a worthwhile way to spend your time while awaiting a flight to depart or arrive at Bellingham International Airport! The Whatcom County Library System (WCLS) and Bellingham International Airport (BLI) have partnered to launch “Library Liftoff ”—an eye-catching space that encourages travelers to download free library eBooks and eAudiobooks while at the airport. “With a WCLS library card, or a card from most public libraries, people can access thousands of digital materials, anytime and anywhere,” Christine Perkins, WCLS Executive Director, said. “Library Liftoff is an innovative way for us to engage more people outside of the library’s walls, while making airport wait times a little more enjoyable.” Although the Library Liftoff space is at Gate D, travelers may use the free wireless Internet access anywhere in the airport to download the free Libby eBook and eAudiobook reader to their personal mobile phone or tablet and stock up on great reading. “BLI always is looking for ways to improve our customers’ experience, and Library Liftoff does exactly that,” Marie Duckworth, BLI Landside Supervisor, said. “Our visitors now can enjoy free digital materials and carry a library in their pockets while traveling.” Both WCLS and BLI have made major service

Susan Knight enjoys an eBook at “Library Liftoff.”

changes over the last few years. WCLS offers 40,000 eBooks and eAudiobooks, 13 million songs to stream and download, nearly 150 digital magazines, and access to online research tools, like NewsBank, Consumer Reports, Chilton’s Online Library, and many others. In the Fall of 2018, BLI launched direct flights from Bellingham to Tucson. It also offers non-stop flights to Seattle, San Juan Islands, Oakland/San Francisco, Los Angeles, Palm Springs, San Diego, Phoenix-Mesa, and Las Vegas. Seasonal service is offered to Hawaii (Kona) and Maui from November through April. More information about airport services can be found at www.FlyBLI.com. To learn more about Library Liftoff, visit www.wcis.org/libaryliftoff.

Bellingham Farmers Market Expands To Barkley Village

The Downtown Bellingham Farmers Market runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Saturday from April through December 21. And this year, there will be a new farmers market at Barkley Village every Wednesday, from June through September, with hours to be announced. “We’re thrilled to have the Bellingham Farmers Market as part of the Barkley Village community this year and hope that the new location can serve both the employees who call Barkley Village home by day and the greater

neighborhood in the early evenings,” said Neal Swanson, Vice President of Barkley Village. “Providing access to the bounty of fresh produce this area produces has been a goal of the Village for a number of years, and we’re excited to see it come to fruition.” The Bellingham Farmers Market is taking a hiatus from its Wednesday Fairhaven Farmers Market this year, to evaluate the location, hours, and consumer needs. The addition of Barkley Village offers an opportunity to expand vendor membership. “Barkley Village has the advantages of space and ample parking, so we can explore options such as food trucks, CSA (Community Supportive Agriculture) box pick-up points, and picnic-table seating,” Market Director Caprice Teske noted. This year, the Market’s focus is on vendors offering specialty crops, processed foods using locally grown ingredients, and crafts not already represented in the current market mix. For vendor and other information visit http:// www.bellinghamfarmers.org/.

MARCH/APRIL 2019 BUSINESSPULSE.COM | 11


leading edge NUMBERS

Petal Pushers

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Percentage of U.S. commercial production of tulips in Skagit Valley, where more bulbs are produced than any other county in the nation. (Source: WSU Skagit County Extension)

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Each of petals and sepals on a tulip blossom. Aha, you (and we) thought it had six petals!

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The tulip—the fourth-most popular flower among gardeners in the U.S.—reigns as queen of a small but mighty regional universe during the month-long, 34th annual Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, April 1-30. Last year, visitors from 86 countries signed in among the multitudes who walked the festival fields. All hail the brightest bulb in the room….

61,000

Number of festivals that have an agricultural presence beyond the featured park or garden; Skagit Valley stands alone, with about 400 stemflowered acres on display. (Source: Skagit Valley Tulip Festival annual report)

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Followers on the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival Facebook page.

Millions of dollars injected into the Skagit County economy by more than 300,000 visitors in 2018. (Source: WSU Skagit County Extension annual report)


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leading edge OUT AND ABOUT 1

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Photos: 1, 3-4, 7, 9 Scarlet Tang. Photos: 2, 6, 8, Natalie Bennett

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St. Paul’s Academy Annual Grand Cru Gala and Auction—A Record-Breaking Success! The St. Paul’s Academy annual Grand Cru Gala and Auction on Saturday, January 26 was a resounding success—raising a total of $503,700. This was a record-breaking year for the school and their gala fundraising efforts. Of this, over $244,000, goes directly to student scholarships and tuition aid via the Raise the Paddle. Over 230 guests included parents, grandparents and friends of the school attended. Their commitment to the school was demonstrated through the fierce bidding and amazing fundraising that took place. The evening had a steam-punk theme in keeping with their STEM focus. The gala had the added excitement of the official announcement of the new name for the school, The Franklin Academy. The audience heard why Benjamin Franklin was chosen to represent the school as they continue to modernize the Academy and have it advance through its own Age of Enlightenment. Special recognition was given to platinum sponsors eResources, Saturna Capital, and Brooks Property Management. 1. Dr. Tung Ha & Dr. Kerri Fitzgerald, Fourth Corner Neurosurgical Associates. 2. Sarah Kaiser-Brand, SKB Events. 3. Jeff and Toni Holmes, The Loft - Latitude Kitchen and Bar Restaurant and Brassworks USA. 4. Niki Thanisra, Wanida Thai Cuisine (left) and Sunantha Day, Hard Drive Marine: Landing Craft. 5. Tom and Sara Jentz, Herb’s Cider. 6. Joe and Maria Lugo, St. Paul’s Academy Spanish Teacher and husband. 7. Sam and Yanolla Boulos, Starvin Sam’s. 8. Mimi Ferlin, Brooks Property Management. 9. Bryant Engebretson, Tradewinds Capital Management.

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leading edge MARKETING

Video Marketing: Easy, Effective, and On-the-Rise

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BY SHERRI HULEATT

ideo marketing is one of the most effective ways to promote your business or organization. According to the State of Video Marketing 2018 report by Wizowl, 97% of marketers say video helped increase consumers’ understanding of their product or service, and 76% said it increased sales. Beyond this, about one-third of all content consumed online today is video and about 72% of consumers prefer to learn about products and services through video rather than text. Most marketers know that “Content is King”—and now, more than ever, the content most likely to engage your customers is video. Lucky for you, you don’t need a professional videographer or expensive equipment to make effective videos—a simple smart phone and free editing apps will do. A couple of months ago, to promote a music-streaming service, I corralled a few coworkers into creating a short action video montage of their feet dancing. I pieced the video clips together in a free video-editing app, added some open-source music, and voilà—our company’s new Facebook video ad (which only took about one hour to film and edit) received about twice as much engagement as our previously static verbal-and-image ad. Here are a few ways you can easily promote your business with videos: Facebook Live: Facebook videos receive about eight billion views a day and get significantly more social engagement than YouTube, according to AdEspresso—a Facebook ad-testing platform. Facebook Live, introduced in 2016, allows you to broadcast and interact with your customers in real-time, garnering instant comments, likes, and questions. Facebook’s algorithm also favors live broadcasts, giving you a nice boost in your customer’s News Feeds. 16 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM MARCH/APRIL 2019

To start, host an “ask-me-anything” broadcast where customers can ask your team and/or owner questions in real time, broadcast a cool company event—like a product launch, volunteer event, conference, home showing, etc. Or share a behindthe-scenes look at your company or operations. Instagram: Instagram’s one billion users watch 60% more video on the platform than they did one year ago, according to Fast Company. In 2016, Instagram increased its 15-second video limit to 60 seconds. And in September 2018, to capitalize on the rise of video marketing, they launched Instagram TV (IGTV), which allows users to upload long-form, vertical videos as long as 60 minutes. Use Instagram videos to tease new products, share short tutorials, and offer candid team interviews. A few tips: • Use humor and stickers to humanize your brand. VidMob’s State of Social Video 2018 report found that users prefer funny content. • Instagram videos are muted by default, so make sure there’s movement and/or text within the first few seconds to capture your followers’ attention. • Ask for user-generated content by encouraging your followers to post their own videos with a custom hashtag. • Since Instagram is a mobile platform, shoot your videos vertically so they fill the screen. If you’d like your video to hit the top of your customers’ feeds (as opposed to being pushed down by Instagram’s algorithm), use Instagram Stories. These 15-second video clips or photos disappear after 24 hours, although you can save your favorites to your profile as a “Story Highlight.” Instagram Stories have


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become incredibly popular, with about 400 million daily users—up from 300 million, or 33% more than about one year ago, according to Social Media Today. YouTube: The behemoth of all video marketing platforms, YouTube is less about short, candid updates like Instagram and Snapchat thrive on, and more about long-form videos with a longer shelflife. YouTube is the second most popular search engine behind Google, so the platform’s one billion users rely increasingly on YouTube to answer questions (how-to, product information, etc.)—making it a great place to establish your product or service as their answer. Create your YouTube channel to promote webinars, tutorial videos, product videos, interviews, and more. If you don’t have much time to create videos, break down one idea or topic into shorter videos to increase content, which also makes them more easily digestible for viewers. Similar to Instagram and Facebook, YouTube’s algorithm controls what users see, so ask for likes, comments, and subscribers to boost your ranking. Professional’s Tip: Get more bang for your buck by embedding or linking to YouTube videos from other marketing channels, such as your website, emails, or blogs.

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MARCH/APRIL 2019 BUSINESSPULSE.COM | 17


leading edge SMALL BUSINESS

Business Succession Planning Smooths the Path of Ownership Transition BY PAUL TWEDT

“Broad and deep preparation, both mental and emotional, is necessary for successful leadership. It’s important to mentor a possible successor to share your passion for the business….(and) use a team of succession experts to make a difference.”

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xiting the business is something most entrepreneurs don’t think about. Yet, having a succession plan is essential for anyone who ultimately wants to realize the full value of their business. Without a formal succession or transition plan, a closely held business risks not only its longevity, but also its bottom line. While 80-90% of businesses in the U.S. are family owned, fewer than one-third succeed into the second generation—and just 10 percent survive into the third. Why succession planning? Few events in the life of a small business are as critical, visible, or stressful as when its owner leaves. The eyes of every employee, customer, supplier, and stakeholder focus on the outgoing leader

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and the preparations that ensure that the company succeeds without him or her. Family owned and closely held business owners often never take the necessary steps toward a smooth transition in leadership. Typically, they don’t clearly identify a successor, or they failed to prepare their company to succeed without them. One way to greatly improve the successful sale of a business is to strengthen it from the foundation up, focusing not only on the technical details of the business but also on the people and processes that can help maximize its value. To ensure that the interests of your selected stakeholders align with your business, and to make certain you have the right people supporting your efforts, consider the following questions:


1. Which of your key employees have the ownership mentality to take your business to the next level? Simply because someone has been second in command, or is related to the family, doesn’t mean he or she is necessarily the best choice to succeed you. The right person is often the type you may have avoided hiring in the past—an entrepreneurial leader just like yourself. 2. What steps are you taking to mentor a possible successor? Broad and deep preparation, both mental and emotional, is necessary for successful leadership. It’s important to mentor a possible successor to share your passion for the business. 3. Do you have a plan for a pool of talent in key areas of your business? Potential buyers often look beyond the spreadsheets to the quality of the employees behind the numbers. It pays to have some simple processes and procedures for evaluating the performance of employees and identifying where potential gaps exist for placing future talent. 4. How will you reward these select employees? If there are people you’d like to take care of in the transition, such as certain non-owner employees who helped make the business successful, be careful that this desire doesn’t conflict with the economics of getting the deal done with the buyer. An incentive-based compensation program tied to company performance can sweeten a transition plan by fairly compensating employees whose contributions impact the most, and by encouraging them to remain after the transition. Don’t go it alone! You spent a lifetime successfully driving your business forward. Selling or otherwise transferring that business can be one of the most challenging tasks you face. Use a team of succession experts to make a difference. At minimum, work with legal, accounting, and other financial professionals experienced in the field of succession planning who can help with a seamless, productive, and unifying transition. Advisors can help you assess your own strengths and weaknesses, so that when the time comes you’ll be well-positioned to transition your business on your terms—when you want, and how you want. MARCH/APRIL 2019 BUSINESSPULSE.COM | 19


leading edge HEALTH

Patti Rowlson with daughter Kelsey.

How To Run a Small Business Without Running Yourself Into the Ground Sharing my personal journey and its relevance to a healthy workplace

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study of the U.S. workforce, released by internationally recognized FreshBooks at the end of 2018, projects that by 2020 some 27 million Americans could leave traditional work in favor of full-time self-employment, joining the 15 million already there. The study found that, in the minds of American workers, the drive to climb the corporate ladder has been replaced with the desire to control their own careers, to have flexible schedules, and to choose the type of work they want to do. Those desires certainly can be achievable in the life of an entrepreneur. FreshBooks reported that all of these newly independent, self-employed workers expect to have less stress, to improve their work-life balance, and to be in better health. Wait. What? Reading those expectations gave me pause, because I’m not so sure many self-employed people would concur. Actually, a few I spoke with about this chuckled when I asked if entrepreneurship brought them less stress, more work-life balance, and better health than traditional employment.

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Maintaining health and wellness while being self-employed takes effort! Self-employed myself, consulting alongside local business leaders and entrepreneurs since 2009, I’ve seen that those three expectations can be quite difficult for entrepreneurs. The reality is that it can be stressful to generate enough work to pay the bills. Not to mention managing people, staying on top of taxes, making sure business-development and growth plans stay on track, keeping up with marketing—all challenging parts of entrepreneurship. Self-employed individuals also can have trouble disconnecting from work. They work long hours and sometimes put their own health and wellness on the back burner. Been there, done that myself! For many, successful self-employment takes a continuous effort to manage work-life balance, stress levels, and our own health, because business matters often take priority over any or all of those ideals. So, how can self-employed people run a business without

Katherine Moran

BY PATTI ROWLSON


running themselves into the ground? One answer is to make time to step outside, away from work. That’s my story in a personal journey and lifestyle changes made throughout 2018. Hmmm. How can spending time outside help entrepreneurs manage stress and improve their health and wellness? It has to do with something called brain-life balance. Entrepreneurs need ‘brain-life’ balance In a Psychology Today article (posted online Jan. 19, 2016) psychotherapist Jade Barclay shared findings she uncovered in writing her MBA thesis, namely: “We don’t need worklife balance, particularly entrepreneurs. We love our work. Work is life. We need brain-life balance. We need the way we’re managing our time, and the way we manage our communication with ourselves and others, to actually be friendly to our brain and our body.” I believe her insight. The self-employed people I know (myself included!) love their work. It fuels them and provides a high level of job satisfaction. I also know that self-employed people push themselves too hard and that they’re their own worst critics, which can lead to added stress and even burnout. Barclay explains in the article that stepping away from our work environment—just a little each day— is very important. That goes a long way toward reducing stress and preventing entrepreneurial burnout. A challenge begins I experienced and felt the benefits of connecting with nature when I began to re-balance my own health and wellness in January of 2018. I began a 365-day personal challenge that included time outside every day—rain or shine, wind, or freezing temps. The goal was intentionally moving in the fresh air for at least one mile each day, either walking or interval jogging. My mantra: I can endure one mile, even in the worst conditions. No excuses. The 365-day challenge was healthy for me in a number of ways. It started off as just a reason to step away from work to reset my brain and shake off any tension that had built up during the day. That worked! A mere 20 minutes on the trail helped me feel refreshed and refocused. That felt great, so I kept going every day for an entire year. I didn’t miss one day. I participated in charity walk/run events. I completed a 10K. I went on six-mile hikes. I met business peers for a walk instead of coffee. PR Consulting—my company—hosted meetups that included networking time on the trail. I spent a ton of quality time with friends and family on the trail. Pretty much everyone I know can walk a mile, too, and they were willing to support me in my challenge. I learned that I could inspire others to spend time in nature, and they enjoyed it, too. I also had a lot of solo time on HEALTH continued on Page 55

MARCH/APRIL 2019 BUSINESSPULSE.COM | 21


leading edge GUEST COLUMN | ENVIRONMENT

Casting Positive (Sun)Light On Small-Scale Solar Energy In the State of Washington

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BY DANA BRANDT

ecently, I came across the guest column in the Jan-Feb edition of Business Pulse that painted solar power in Washington State in an unfavorable light. In response, I thought I’d offer some counterpoints that highlight the merits of solar as I see them. My perspective draws on 15 years of experience at Ecotech Solar offering solar installation and design services to residents and businesses in Whatcom County and beyond. I hope to set the record straight on solar as a fantastic value proposition, as well as a great way for homeowners and businesses to cut their carbon footprint and claim energy sovereignty in the face of escalating electricity bills. Solar for the masses Solar isn’t just for the select few. Anyone with the proper solar resource—i.e., a roof that isn’t too shaded—can make a near-infinite natural resource work for them. Even western Washington— the cloudiest part of the state—receives more sunlight than Germany, the world leader in installed solar capacity. Thanks to decreases in solar equipment prices, solar has become a financially workable solution for a broad range of folks and businesses. The price of panels has dropped an astonishing 80% since 2004. Solar panels also have increasingly good warranties—from 25-30 years—and typically outlive their projected lifetime. 22 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM MARCH/APRIL 2019

So, does solar make sense for the masses? Yes! Easy for me to say, but you’re probably still wondering: What does it cost? It’s hard to generalize the cost of an installation without a solar site evaluation (these evaluations are free) because so many location-pecific variables factor in. The cost depends largely on the amount of electricity that the customer is hoping to generate. It also depends on the space available for an installation, electric bills, the site’s orientation, and the size of the proposed system. The value proposition The main point of the price conversation: People shouldn’t disqualify themselves by automatically thinking solar is too expensive. Most systems are easily financed through zero-down credit union loans secured by the solar panels that have low 20- or 10-year fixed-interest rates. The federal government also offers a generous 30% tax credit for both residential and commercial systems, further reducing the cost. The cost-benefit relationship is what makes solar work so well— better than people tend to expect. The savings from eliminating an electricity bill offsets nearly the entire payment of a solar installation loan. The utility cost before solar might be a little less, but you’re generating clean energy, and adding substantial value to your home. Once the loan is paid off, your electricity is free.


Speaking of adding value to your home, a great upside of solar is its ability to significantly appreciate a property’s value. Numerous studies have shown that homes with solar sell faster and for more—significantly more. Additionally, solar opens up options to phase-out inefficient, gasfed furnaces and hot water heaters, paving the way for high-efficient electrical appliances that can be fueled by the sun. It’s OK if it rains “sometimes” Let’s revisit the claim that Washington doesn’t have enough sunlight to support viable solar energy production for homes and smaller-scale businesses. Thanks to the way that solar energy credits can be banked during our unusually-long, 16-hour summer days and cashed-in when the winter weather moves in, we have a tried-and-tested way to stay ahead of the rain. This “energy banking” is known as net metering. As a solar customer, you can think of your utility as a battery. Net metering means you’re sending the solar electricity you generate to this “battery bank,” which holds your credits until you need them in the winter, when you’re probably using more electricity than your solar system is generating. Functionally, net metering takes place through a simple electricity meter that utility companies install for solar customers; it spins backwards when you’re producing more electricity than you’re consuming and spins forward when you need to cash in on your banked credits. Experienced solar system designers can tailor your system to meet your energy needs. Solar can even be designed so your system accounts for future needs like electric vehicle chargers or electric appliance upgrades. You have the (solar) power! In conclusion, I want to emphasize that Washington, in general, is a great state for solar. If you’re still unsure, ask any of the thousands of solar owners throughout the state about their experience. P+ Dana Brandt holds a Master of Science in Renewable Energy and serves as President of Solar Installers of Washington. He founded Ecotech Solar in 2004.

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leading edge GUEST COLUMN | AGRICULTURE

A Third Generation Lynden Dairy Farmer Sells His Cows “The hardest decision I ever had to make.” —Glen Blankers BY GERALD BARON

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Communications Director, Whatcom Family Farmers

ome of Glen Blankers’ earliest memories are of playing with the cows and calves on his father’s and grandfather’s dairy farms, up on the Guide Meridian, scarcely a mile south of the Canadian border. In late November 2018, Glen sold the cows. That brought an abrupt ending to three generations of the Blankers’ familial farm. Glen was the last of seven Blankers dairy farmers to call it quits. “It was the hardest decision I ever had to make as a farmer,” said soft-spoken Glen. But, given the dim future prospects, he said he has no doubts he made the right move. The conditions that forced the Blankers family’s long-dreaded decision also loom for many dairy farmers in Whatcom County, the state, and the nation. Demand for dairy products is declining in the West, while increasing in Asia. A sharp rise in production efficiencies means fewer farmers are producing more milk, the very efficiencies that lead to ever-larger dairy farms—and the decline in smaller ones. Glen Blankers’ farm, with a little more than 300 milking cows, was slightly above the national average, though below the local average of about 450 cows. At age 66, Glen reluctantly faced the realization that, without any children eager to take over the farm, now was the time to call it quits. “I didn’t want to leave in a walker,” he said with a wry smile. He said he spent over two years trying to keep the cows in the county, offering other local farms the opportunity to take over and manage the operations while retaining the herd and keeping the farm active—a common practice. “But, I could basically see the handwriting on the wall,” Glen said. “They would leave the county and go to some larger dairy.” One of the many factors that led to Blankers’ sale was the sharply declining value of the cows themselves. In earlier years, he could bolstser income revenues by selling his high-value replacement cows, back when they went for $1,800 to $2,000 apiece. “Now they’re half that,”

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Blankers said. That creates a condundrum: Sinking prices make it more necessary to sell, but also reduce the income needed for retirement when you do sell. Glen cited a number of other factors prompting his difficult decision. “Land and feed prices and labor costs all are higher, and milk prices are lower.” The continually depressed price most Whatcom family farmers get for their milk is the primary factor. Most ship to Darigold, the farmer-owned Northwest cooperative, and prices are set on the global market. Blankers also pointed to labor costs that have gone through the roof. “Family leave, mandatory sick leave, the increased paperwork—all contribute to rising costs.” The math is easy; they all add up to cashing out. But the loss of his long-time employees hurts even more than the loss of his cows, Glen said. “There are five or six families that this farm provided a livelihood for, and they’ll have to find other employment.” His general manager had been with him for 22 years—half the time that Blankers farmed. “ He wasn’t sure if he and the others would find jobs that fit them as well,” Glen said, ruefully. “They all had a good fit here. They found their niche.” Among all the conditions that combined to make things difficult, the “straw that broke the camel’s back” was a mishap triggered by an unfortunate turn of nature. During 2016 and ’17, Whatcom County experienced a highly unusual wet season, which stretched from early Fall into late Spring. Whatcom dairy farmers had to delay the Spring application of manure to their fields because they’re limited in when they can do the application by some of the most restrictive nutrient-management regulations in the nation. Hence, the storage lagoons that hold the manure until it can be AGRICULTURE continued on Page 64


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2019 BUSINESS PERSON OF THE

YEAR

Business Person of the Year Matt Mullett, All American Marine Rich Appel, Appel Farms Steve Cowden, Cowden Gravel Rowena Birnel, Infusion Solutions

Small Business of the Year Bellewood Acres Bellingham Training & Tennis Club DeCo Mack Marine Exact Scientific

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CONGRATULATIONS TO THE BUSINESS PERSON OF THE YEAR

FINALISTS Start-Up of the Year Herb’s Cider Manthey Momentum

Lifetime Achievement Award Grace Borsari, Alpha Technologies

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Business Pulse magazine, Whatcom Business Alliance and the following companies congratulate our Business Person of the Year finalists and thank them for their contributions to our community prosperity.

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By Business Pulse Staff

The ABCs (and an M) of the 2019 Business Person of the Year finalists—Appel-Birnel-Cowden-and-Mullett— involve diverse industries of dairy farming, home healthcare, gravel and concrete services, and boatbuilding. On March 21, in the ballroom of the Semiahmoo Resort, Golf & Spa, the award recipient will be announced. Annually across the last 34 years, the Business Pulse Awards have brought special attention to outstanding business success stories that also incorporate invaluable service to the community. Presented by the Whatcom Business Alliance, awards also are bestowed on a Small Business of the Year and a Start-Up of the Year.

The evening draws to a climactic conclusion with the recognition of a person for an entire career body of work—the Lifetime Achievement Award. The 2019 honor goes to a woman who helped start a business in a small, rented space in Lower B.C. that has grown into a global conglomerate. She is Grace Borsari, who co-founded Alpha Technologies, then developed her own manufacturing arm of that business (Altair Advanced Industries, creating more than 400 jobs in Bellingham), and now sits as CEO of her firm, G.B. Enterprises, managing commercial real estate and a fleet of aircraft. MARCH/APRIL 2019 BUSINESSPULSE.COM | 27


Photo by Scott Book

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LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT

AWARD

Renaissance Woman: Grace Borsari Flying High As Lifetime Achievement Award Honoree By Mike McKenzie

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photo by scott book

y definition, it’s easy to refer to Grace Borsari as a Renaissance Woman (one with many talents or areas of knowledge). Early on, Grace was a professional photographer in homeland Switzerland, running a vacation resort’s photo business at age 20. Later, she co-founded Alpha Technologies—a company that morphed into a global enterprise as the Alpha Group, and also was CEO of her own manufacturing company within that conglomerate, Altair Advanced Industries (AAI). She continues, since the sale last Fall of the Alpha Group, as an executive—CEO of AAI, managing properties and testing facilities in Bellingham and commercial real estate in Alpharetta, Georgia. In Vancouver, B.C., she became a certified ski instructor. And, after moving to Bellingham, a certified aviatrix. A tale: The first time I met Grace was over lunch. I’d invited her to meet at The Beach Store Café on Lummi Island to convince her to let me write about her (she’s reticent about public attention). “How about Roche Harbor?” she said. Roche Harbor? For lunch? “We’ll go in my helicopter.” Me: “I’m terrified of helicopters! She: “Oh, many people say that, and then they fly with me and they don’t say that anymore.” Oh. She’s the pilot. I hadn’t even met her yet and I didn’t know, until we rallied around the chopper, that she’s no bigger than the minute it took to write this sentence. And she was right (if you don’t count a few white-knuckle moments and deep breaths). When Alpha Technologies and AAI moved from the Haskell Business Center into buildings near Bellingham International Airport, that’s when Grace became interested in learning to fly. She became instrument-certified to fly all aircraft except hot air balloons, with commercial ratings. She piloted her own plane

on business trips to Alpha Group sites in Phoenix, Atlanta, and all over Europe. For this article, we met once again in a restaurant, and Grace painted a remarkable picture of her path to excellence and success. The core of 30-plus years of business leadership can be extracted from her humble upbringing in a tiny village in Switzerland, where, she said, as a child of the late ‘50s she learned probably her most valuable lessons. “We were poor,” she said. “I shared a room with my two older brothers until I was a teenager.” They lived in a 750-square-foot apartment, just 4 kilometers from downtown Bern, the capital city. “We’d walk 45 minutes to town on Saturday nights to go dancing, just to save the 50-cent train fare,” Grace said. “But I have only good memories of my childhood.” She speaks proudly of her father, who earned a meager but steady living as a masseur with the International Red Cross. He knew sign language and read Braille—which inspired Grace to learn multiple languages, just as he had. And, dare we add fashion designer to her curriculum vitae, albeit non-professionally? Her mother, an amateur artist, taught Grace life skills, such as sewing. “We learned to be frugal,” she said. In a twist of irony, she told of wearing many silk clothes, even pajamas, because her father would salvage leftover skeins of silk from Red Cross donations, from which Grace and her mother would create impressionistic garments. “We didn’t look poor,” she said. “Sundays in church, people would say, ‘Look at the Borsaris—my, how well they dress.’ I still have two of those silk dresses. My mother and I also would take clothes handed down from relatives, take them apart, and remake them on a loom. Sometimes we had to repair the loom

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Photos courtesy of Grace Borsari

“From two older brothers I learned early on, you play with boys by their rules, and if you don’t like it, go play with your dolls….(having) a female-owned business gave me a foot in the door, but I also was playing with big guys and I knew how to play by their rules.” – Grace Borsari, CEO, GB Enterprises with Bazooka bubblegum (laugh). We also knitted our own sweaters; I still have some of them. And I still sew.” Grace said she acquired adaptive skills and mental toughness from her brothers, and lessons that later benefitted a woman doing business in an era of ‘glass ceilings’: “My brothers and I were a team,” she said. “But I learned early on, you play with boys by their rules, and if you don’t like it, go play with your dolls. I grew up in a man’s world. No snitching, either. If you tell mom, it’s punishable.” Grace said that in school she was “a little different from the rest of the class of 25 or 30….I rode a bicycle that I bought with money I’d earned, instead of walking to school with other girls. I did become class treasurer, and a Girl Scouts leader—I took a delegation to Sweden when I was 13.” Grace worked at odd jobs as a teenager, among them: Ironing napkins in a laundry. (“I hate ironing to this day.”) Picking grapes. (“You could eat all you wanted.”) Filing in an office. (“Really? You get paid for that?”) She attended a trade school in Bern. She began in art and soon turned to photography, including an apprenticeship where she learned French. Her first job was in the Swiss Alps, two hours away. “I had the dream job at Gstaads, a prestigious resort,” she said. “But I had bigger dreams. “I wanted to visit all the continents and learn English. (She

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already spoke four other languages from her work so near to France, Italy, and Germany.)” A world out there awaited her arrival. “I had obtained an immigrant visa to Canada, because it was easiest to obtain.” She quit at the resort and took off, never to return permanently. “It was hard to leave,” Grace said. “Lots of tourists bought my photos like there was no tomorrow. I shot, developed, and packaged the photos, and sold cameras. I ran the whole thing—I was my own boss at 20 years old!” But, dreams and ambition superseded the resort job. She lived at the YWCA and thumbed the Yellow Pages in search of a photography position. A portrait studio hired her. “I retouched fourby-five black-and-white negatives, got rid of wrinkles that showed up, and got really good at it,” she said, laughing. “But it became the first time, and only time, I got sacked. And next I learned another lesson. I applied at the Vancouver Sun newspaper, and they said they loved me, but I didn’t get the job. They told me, ‘We were looking for a male.’” While working at another photo lab, she befriended Fred Kaiser. “He was an electrical engineer for a company in Vancouver (B.C.),” she said, “and a friend asked him if he knew how to make backup batteries for his cable TV company that required them by law. Fred said yes, and he GRACE BORSARI continued on Page 55


P L A

CELEBRA A H T

ES

GRACE BORSARI FOR HER

Lifetime Achievement Award

Alpha congratulates Grace Borsari on her lifetime achievement award. Grace was instrumental to the success and a founding member of The Alpha Group and owner of Altair Advanced Industries. Grace’s contribution to the business community in Whatcom county and beyond is a legacy that will continue to positively impact lives.

Grace Borsari,

CEO of Altair Advanced Industries

2019 BUSINESS PERSON of the Year Awards


BUSINESS

PERSON

OF THE YEAR

FINALIST

Mullett Enjoyed a Banner Year He made All American Marine his biggest success story By Dave Brumbaugh

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t’s tough to pick out the most amazing thing about Matt Mullett and his company, All American Marine (AAM) of Bellingham. You could begin with more than $20 million in AAM revenues in 2018, up more than 75 percent from the previous year and a compounded growth rate of 17 percent in the 20 years that Mullett has been with AAM. You also could note that the Enhydra, a 600-passenger San Francisco Bay tour vessel built by AAM for Red and White Fleet, was named 2018 Boat of the Year by WorkBoat magazine. Or there’s AAM’s impressive move in 2017 from a 20,000-square-foot fabrication building, leased from the Port of Bellingham, to a company-owned 57.000-squarefoot building on Port property on Hilton Avenue that helped accelerate the company’s meteoric rise.

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But perhaps the most surprising thing about Mullett is this: He didn’t have any background in boating before connecting with AAM founder Pat Pitsch. Mullett was raised on a farm near Corvallis in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. He went even farther away from saltwater to attend Eastern Oregon University in La Grande. His initial goal was to become a neurosurgeon, but he said a stint as student body president led him to discover his skills were better suited to business leadership than scalpels. He earned an MBA degree after a Summer internship in Bellingham and later returned to this area, first helping a company open and run a restaurant group for two years. He then consulted with companies, including Hempler’s B.B. Meats, on in-house management and business plans. Mullett’s first extended time with any company began in 1989 when he convinced pharmacist Mike Roberts about


the potential of a comprehensive home-healthcare business. Roberts hired Mullett to lead Roberts Medical and Option Care, a home-infusion franchise. After starting as its ninth employee, Mullett grew the business to 125 employees and five offices before it was sold in 1996. Mullett then became CEO of Ocean Kayak. He developed and executed a business plan that led to 26,000 kayak sales worldwide in a 12-month period and helped the founders position it to sell to a publicly held company in 1998. But his biggest business success came after being introduced to Pitsch in late 1999. “I assisted Pat in seizing an opportunity by developing a comprehensive business—focusing on high-speed, hydrofoil-assisted aluminum catamarans—and executing it as the CEO,” Mullett said in an email query. “I negotiated an exclusive design agreement for North America with New Zealand-based Teknicraft Design, Ltd., giving AAM sole access to its state-of-the-art, hydrofoil-assisted, aluminum catamaran designs.” AAM’s growth then took off like one of its speedy catamarans. Mullett became AAM’s managing partner with 50 percent ownership in 2003, and he became sole owner in 2012. With 78 employees, AAM has become a leading manufacturer in North America of high-speed aluminum passenger ferries, eco-tour boats, hybrid vessels, dinner-cruise boats, and research/survey vessels. Away from the office, throughout the years, Mullett has assumed leadership roles, such as deacon, in his church and Christian faith involvements. At work, he shies from the spotlight and defers credit to AAM’s success to a finely tuned staff and specialty labor pool. Giving credit to God, his wife, Nina, and his family, Mullett said his most significant achievement has been “building a very cohesive and highly productive team of craftspeople and support personnel who embrace the company’s core values of humility, tenacity, and respect.” MARCH/APRIL 2019 BUSINESSPULSE.COM | 33


BUSINESS

PERSON

OF THE YEAR

FINALIST

Dairy Farmer Combines Two-Business Growth With Land Stewardship By Dave Brumbaugh

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ich Appel, dairy farmer and co-owner of Appel Family Dairy and Appel Cheese Shop, says that protecting the environment affects their bottom line in a positive way, hence it’s a core belief for him and his family. “(We want) to be the best stewards of our land and animals as possible,” Appel said. “…To treat our employees with kindness and respect (and) to provide exceptional dairy products to our customers.” His dairy farm lies close to the Nooksack River, northeast of Ferndale, and just a few miles from some Lummi Nation shellfish harvest beds. To keep bacteria from polluting the river and shellfish-bed water, the Appels developed and implemented a dairy-nutrient management plan. The family recently built two new manure-storage facilities and partnered with local agencies to install new culverts and self-regulating, fish-friendly floodgates on

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their property bordering Clarkson Creek, a Nooksack River tributary. These improvements protect Appel Farms from flooding and losing agricultural productivity, while opening up 2.2 miles of fish habitat upstream, according to the Whatcom Conservation District. Appel stays actively involved with Whatcom Family Farmers and Save Family Farming and was a leader in the formation of the Portage Bay Partnership with Lummi Nation. He serves as an industry leader, representing his farming peers and educating the public on dairy stewardship practices through farm tours and public appearances. “There are many challenges in the farming community right now, and I believe it’s worth fighting for,” Rich said. “I work hard to ‘build bridges’ and always say if there are reasonable people in the room, solutions can be found.” He also actively participates in the businesses that involve


“There are many challenges in the farming community, and it’s worth fighting for. I work hard to ‘build bridges’… if there are reasonable people in the room, solutions can be found.”

Congratulations to all the 2019 Business Person of the Year finalists from...

PETROGAS

Pacific, LLC

—Rich Appel his wife, Ann, his brother, John, and John’s wife, Ruth, ever since the Appel clan purchased the farm from his parents in 1989. Now with 25 employees, they’ve built a larger, more efficient creamery and opened The Cheese Shop, where customers can taste the numerous original-recipe cheese products they make. Their Gouda, Quark, Cheddar, Cheese Curds, Havarti, Feta, Maasdam, Parmesan, Yogurt, and Paneer varieties are sold numerous places locally, and across the nation through distributors. “We’ve worked hard and looked to God to guide us,” Rich said. “He is really how we got to where we are today, and we’re thankful.” In recognition of his numerous contributions, the Washington Association of Conservation Districts presented Appel its Vim Wright “Building Bridges” award last November. It’s given to individuals who work in the conservation arena to foster understanding and partnerships through community collaborative efforts. And that’s deeply rooted in environmental stewardship, ever an issue for dairies and other farm operators.

S I P. T A S T E . S A V O R . R E P E A T.

CA S I N O• R E S O R T

theskagit.com On I-5 at Exit 236

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BUSINESS

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Four Generations Strong

Steve continues the Cowden family legacy— diversifying services and giving back to the community By Sherri Huleatt Founded 74 years ago, Cowden Gravel & Ready Mix is a fourth-generation, family owned concrete and gravel producer and supplier in Whatcom County. “Statistics show that the success rate of generational succession drops to 30% by the second generation,” Chairman of the Board Steve Cowden said. “[It’s] 12% by the third generation, and only 3% by the fourth. We’re determined to beat the odds.” George Cowden (Steve’s grandfather) founded the company as a gravel supplier in 1945. After he passed away in 1953, Cowden Gravel was left to a 21-year-old son, Leonard. In 1963, Leonard expanded the company, adding concrete products and services, and after 45 years Leonard turned the company over to his son, Steve—who’d been following his dad around the business since he was eight years old. Now, more than two decades since taking over in 1998, Steve continues the tradition by transitioning the Photo by Book 36 | Scott BUSINESSPULSE.COM MARCH/APRIL 2019

company to his four sons: Brent, President/CEO; Deryk and Ryan, Vice-Presidents and Operations Managers, and Darrel, CFO. Cowden Gravel brought in about $35 million in gross revenues last year (up 10% from 2017) and employs 135 workers. It also has expanded from just a handful of equipment to an impressive fleet of more than 300 pieces of equipment—including dump trucks, excavators, cement mixers, and more. The company has two locations—one in Bellingham and one in Deming—and three pits and quarries scattered around the county. Cowden has been ranked consistently in the 30th percentile of Whatcom County’s Top 100 Private Businesses by Business Pulse. Steve Cowden said one of his greatest professional achievements is not just surviving the recession that hit in 2008, but using it as a launchpad for exploring new markets.


“I became motivated to get more ‘recession-proof.’ We diversified our product offerings to things that will always be needed, such as fuel, water, and garbage.” He said garbage transportation has been a huge growth area, and that the company now has more than 20 trucks transporting garbage daily from the Lower Mainland, Whatcom County, and Whidbey Island down to the Port of Seattle. The company’s other areas of expansion include: • Partnering with North Pacific Concrete Pumping. • Adding rock-quarry mining services. • Forming Cowden Brothers Trucking LLC in 2018. Cowden recently landed some large contracts, including initiatives at Phillips 66 Ferndale Refinery, a rail-expansion project at BP Cherry Point Refinery, expansion and upgrades at the Bellingham International Airport, and projects at Tesoro Refinery in Anacortes. Business philosophy at Cowden Gravel focuses on service over volume—“to be the best, as opposed to being the biggest,” Steve said. “We value all of our customers—big and small—and do everything possible to help make them successful.” Steve involves himself and the company in the local community and within the concrete industry. He served as president of the Washington Aggregates Concrete Association (WACA), sat on the Whatcom County Surface Mining Advisory Committee (SMAC) and the Building Industry Association (BIA) Board, and maintains proactive membership in the Whatcom Builder Alliance and Association of General Contractors (AGC). He also serves on local school and church boards. Cowden Gravel has donated services and money to a long list of local charities, including the Boys & Girls Clubs, Whatcom Pregnancy Clinic, St. Joseph Hospital, Lighthouse Mission, Lydia Place, and several others. When asked about his company’s philanthropic philosophy, Cowden quoted the Bible: “To whom much is given, much is required.” Going forward, Cowden plans to continue growth, with improvements and modernization of the equipment, as well as further business diversification. “The challenge continues,” Steve said. “Expanding the vision and making it a reality—one load at a time.” MARCH/APRIL 2019 BUSINESSPULSE.COM | 37


BUSINESS

PERSON

OF THE YEAR

FINALIST

Caring For Patients Where They’re Most Comfortable

Infusion Solutions IV therapy services see massive 2018 growth By Sherri Huleatt Rowena Birnel, as a pharmacy major in college and as a specialist in ambulatory care (and other related positions), had a vision: personalized IV infusions in the patient’s home. In 2010, she started Infusion Solutions, a specialty pharmacy offering in-home and patient IV infusion services. She has driven massive growth over the last few years, going from about $11 million in annual revenues in 2017 to more than $17 million in 2018—a 56% increase, and a 130% increase from 2016. What began as a five-person startup with $500,000 in annual revenues, has grown into a 38-employee company (27 are full-time and 23 live in Whatcom County), with locations in Bellingham and Everett (recently added) that Photo by Scott Book

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serve Whatcom, Skagit, Snohomish, San Juan, and Island Counties. Its team includes pharmacists, registered nurses, dietitians, pharmacy technicians, and billing specialists. Infusion Solutions specializes in injections known widely as IV (intravenous) therapy for a variety of treatments and immunizations, including chemotherapy, pain medication, hepatitis vaccinations, and more. Patients can receive infusions either at home, in a clinic, or at the Bellingham headquarters, which offers a comfortable space with a plasma television, WiFi, and chairs for relaxation. “We care for our community,” President and CEO Birnel said. “We provide many treatments and therapies in the home that our competitors do not.”


Her company serves individual patients, and also partners with nursing homes and clinics to provide infusion therapies, like a recently completed 18-month contract with Whidbey Health Medical Center for mixing oncology medications, and offering pharmacy services to the nonprofit All Heart Infusion—a nursing agency in Spokane. Steady growth has helped the company serve more than 5,500 patients. In fact, during the last three years it has gone from serving about 100 patients a day to more than 330 a day. Birnel said the growth stems from being patient- and community-focused, rather than revenue-focused “We put people before profits,” she said. “We believe that if we care for the whole community, the community will allow us to continue to operate as a values-based company.” The focus on caring for patients shines through. In 2018, Infusion Solutions provided more than 980 free nursing visits and helped support under-insured patients with free care. Birnel also advocates for her patients, particularly those on Medicare, by meeting with congressional representatives and senators locally and in Washington, D.C. Raised in Bellingham, Birnel graduated from the University of Washington’s School of Pharmacy in 1988 and worked for seven years as an investigational drug coordinator and ambulatory-care pharmacist at the Seattle VA Medical Center. She’s a board member of the National Home Infusion Association. Going forward, Birnel would like to expand her company’s customer base to Snohomish County and northern King County. “Everyone who lives here deserves the highest quality of care,” she said, “and we strive to be our patients’ number one choice for infusion services.” Led by Birnel’s philanthropic commitment, Infusion Solutions supports local theatre shows, racquetball tournaments, soccer tournaments, high school and middle school sports, local PTAs, and Senior Day in the Park. Outside the area, the company also donates to the UW School of Pharmacy and offers externship support to Washington and Oregon pharmacy students. Infusion Solutions is, in short, a northwest Washington powerhouse business. MARCH/APRIL 2019 BUSINESSPULSE.COM | 39


SMALL

BUSINESS OF THE YEAR

FINALIST

Bellewood Acres Ownership Transitions Seamlessly In Carrying On Legacy By Dave Brumbaugh

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ince one couple created a thriving, farm-to-table business with Bellewood Acres, just think how two couples might potentially power additional growth. The new four-ply ownership consists of Eric and Julie Abel, plus their son and daughter-in-law, Blake and Janelle Abel, as of December 2018. They operate the 62-acre farm near Lynden, as well as the large facility housing a café, gift shop, art gallery, meeting and wedding spaces, and spirits distillery near Ferndale on the Guide Meridian, about six miles north of Bellingham. The founders (’96) of this renowned business, John and Dorie Belisle, have semiretired, but they retained a small portion of ownership and stayed on to assist in the transition this year. The company continues to operate basically the same. It grew 5% last year, with about $2.2 in sales through its wholesale and retail business model. The 2018 Fall harvest yielded 1.7 million apples. Bellewood has 20 full-time employees and, counting seasonal harvests and holidays, it will hire as many as 75-80 part-time workers. In addition to a long-time relationship with the Bellingham Farmers Market, Community Food Co-Op, and Haggen grocery stores, Bellewood Acres last year introduced its premium-quality fruit, cider, and best-seller Honeycrisp apples to Metropolitan Market and other stores in Seattle. The company also partners with local restaurants and cideries that use its fruits to create their own products. Another highlight last year occurred when the Bellewood Distillery’s gin received a Gold medal and its brandy a Bronze at the San Francisco World Spirits competition. Eric Abel—who came from a marketing and product development background in Seattle—will manage the business as President. Julie is General Manager of the 14,000-square-foot facility on the Guide. Blake Abel is Vice President, overseeing the farm operations of more than

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25,000 fruit trees, including 21 apple and pear varieties, and a pumpkin patch. Janelle Abel is the Marketing and Community Relations Manager. “We want to share with the world that agriculture is more than just nourishing society,” Eric said. “Farmers are influencing culture by providing the raw materials that create rich life experiences for the family and community.” Bellewood Acres’ farm store stocks locally produced gifts, and includes a café serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and a bakery featuring specialties like apple turnovers, cider donuts, and naturally, pies. The distillery produces farm-to-bottle spirits of vodka, brandy, gin, and liqueurs. Community rooms rent out for special events, meetings, and weddings. “Bellewood has a great heritage in our community,” Eric Abel said. “Older generations are now bringing their own families back to build memories here. Because of that legacy, in a sense, Bellewood no longer belongs to anyone except to our community. We’ve almost become like a community park, where people come and stroll the orchard, play in our tire garden, get some refreshments, or take a walk on our beautiful conservation trail.” Part of the Abel company vision extends to more involvement in regional community and agriculture organizations. As the first certified Salmon Safe orchards in the state, Abel pointed out that Bellewood Acres created a tree-protected habitat for salmon to help keep the watershed healthy for native fish. The farm also will continue under the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program, aimed at building healthier ecosystems.“We anticipate exponential growth in 2019,” Eric said. “So this Spring we’re building the systems and infrastructure to handle the increased workload. One of our main objectives is to simplify our business by pruning back and focusing attention on the things that are producing the greatest benefits, so those products and services can flourish even more.”

Photo by Scott Book

Co-owners from left, Blake and Janelle Abel with their children Raylee and Rowe, and Julie and Eric Abel.


ASPHALT PAVING • Grading • Parking Lots • Patching/Repairs • Recycled Asphalt • Porous Asphalt • Driveways/Roads

 CIVIL CONSTRUCTION • Scraping/Land Leveling • Underground Utilities • Structural Concrete

• Site Prep/Clearing • Environmental Cleanup • Excavation/Demolition

2380 Grandview Rd., Ferndale, WA 98248 360.366.3303 www.wrsweb.com

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BUSINESS OF THE YEAR

Couple Learns That Running a Fitness Club Takes Mental Muscles, Too By Mary Louise Van Dyke obin and Doug Robertson were exploring real estate opportunities in 1999 when Doug mentioned that the club where he played tennis in Fairhaven, the Bellingham Training & Tennis Club (BTTC), might be for sale. Robin was ready to plunge back into the workforce after seven years as a stay-at-home mom and part-time worker. Doug asked Robin if she thought she could run a tennis club. The question didn’t faze Robin, she said, even though her work background as an environmental scientist wasn’t related to managing a tennis club. “I said, ‘Sure, how hard could that be?’” How hard, indeed? The reality challenged her mental muscles as she shifted gears from the external to the internal environment. “When we bought the Club (in 2000), it was a failing business with a little over 200 members—well below what it needed—a staff of seven, and run-down facilities,” Robin said. The majority of members participated only on the tennis side, and relatively few concentrated on the fitness and training facilities. The Robertsons quickly learned that their success would depend on attracting more members, updating equipment and programs, making renovations, and marketing for more fitness-training customers. Today’s membership of about 800 works out in an expanded facility at 800 McKenzie Avenue. That membership number reflects an increase of 225% on the tennis side and 2,692% on the fitness side, the Robertsons reported in an email overview of their business. Achieving those levels of growth required some serious scaling up, they said, especially over the last five years. The Club offers programs directed at tennis members and

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tennis-clinic participants, people training to get into the “fitness zone,” and those in the cycling programs and members of “RIDE” (a dedicated indoor-cycle studio). BTTC hosts tennis tournaments that attract participants from as far away as Oregon and Vancouver, B.C. Tennis membership was capped about a year ago and new applicants find themselves on a waiting list. The fitness area doubled in size last year with a 2,500-squarefoot addition. The result, Robin said, was a huge, light-filled area with expansive room for group-training fitness classes and new state-of-the-art equipment to accommodate the club’s growing fitness membership. “Our mission (slogan) is to help people ‘Do Life Better’ by feeling stronger, healthier, and gaining more energy to do the things in life that they love,” Robin said. Other recent changes involved an external facelift to the building and massive remodeling—renovation of the lobby, locker rooms, and fitness area—following rehabilitation of all the tennis courts in 2012. The club has five full-time employees, and 28 part-time. The Robertsons reported that revenues in 2018 rose to about $1.3 million, an 8.5% increase over 2017. Community service is important to the Robertsons. BTTC is a prime sponsor of the Bellingham Arthritis Foundation’s Jingle Bell Run, and the club collects coats for an annual coat drive. “Our members love that the club is so much more than just fitness and tennis,” Robin said. “It’s a community where staff knows your name. We offer a place to both feel comfortable and challenged to grow and learn, and a place where you see old friends and make new ones.”

Photo by Scott Book

FINALIST


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74 YEARS AND COUNTING MARCH/APRIL 2019 BUSINESSPULSE.COM | 43


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A family affair: from left, Ann Marie DeCollibus, Mack Mackiewicz and their son Tanner.

By Dave Brumbaugh

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nn Marie DeCollibus and Mark “Mack” Mackiewicz operate three ventures as a wife-husband team—two large commercial fishing craft and her ceramic artwork—under one business umbrella, DeCo Mack Marine in Bellingham. The couple has managed the business to steady growth as they enter this, their 29th year of operating fish tenders. They work primarily from Bristol Bay to Petersburg, Alaska, spending over half the year hauling catches of salmon, herring, and squid for hundreds of fishermen at 600700 tons a boatload. Last year, the operation grossed somewhere between $500,000 and $1 million. “Keep in mind we operate two boats and we prefer to keep our total income private,” Ann Marie said. DeCo Mack repeatedly has been recognized as the top-producing tender operation on behalf of its largest and longest-term client, Icicle Seafoods. Ann Marie described the yoyo nature of the commercial fishing industry: “Each season is different. We started out in the business barely breaking even and relying on my teaching salary to get us through. But fish tendering has allowed us to live a very comfortable lifestyle.” She calls herself Head Chef and Crew Boss and refers to Mark as the Skipper. They base their operations at Squalicum Harbor out of a 100-foot-deep stall. With The Steelhead and The DeCo Bay, the team tenders closer to home during the Fall in Puget Sound and Hood Canal, and last December they added a crabbing customer in Oregon. A former high-school art teacher, Ann Marie also markets seathemed artwork under the shingle of DeCo Ceramics, crafting even while at sea and selling in makeshift shops on the boats. But the core business isn’t kiln and clay. It’s about the fish. “Basically we pick up the catches from fishing boats and we haul fish to processing

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plants,” Ann Marie said. Their primary clients are seafood giants Icicle, Silver Bay, and Bornstein. “With large tanks full of refrigerated seawater (and) huge pumps that pull fish from one boat and pump it to another, our job is to keep the fish perfect and cold, and to service the fishing boats. “We’re fish truckers.” “Our proudest achievement was when we decided to begin paying for our crew’s healthcare,” Ann Marie said. “We wanted to ensure that our whole crew could make a living wage (year-round) and afford to buy houses, and to enjoy time to snowboard and other local activities. It’s made a big difference in the morale of our team.” DeCo Mack Marine employs eight full-time crew members and 2-3 seasonal employees. Most have worked with them more than 10 years and are considered family. Some, in fact, are family. DeCollibus and Mackiewicz’s three children grew up spending half the year working on the boats. Tanner has captained The DeCo Bay since they purchased it in 2009. Johanna grew up as a deckhand, and Michaelea worked throughout high school, paid her own way through college, and continues now a deckhand and on-board cook. Although The DeCo Bay and The Steelhead operate many miles away, the team feeds the local economy; the maintenance, equipment, supplies, and food are purchased from Bellingham suppliers. “We love going into places where they not only know us, but they care about us and our boats,” Ann Marie said, writing a long list of said places— mostly located on the working waterfront—to illustrate the breadth of synergy in commercial fishing. The DeCo Mack plan, AnnMarie said, is “to keep the boats up and running another seven years and to sell when the time is right so they’ll remain a big part of the fishing fleet.”

Photo by Scott Book

A Fisherman and a Marine-Theme Artist


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Good business is not just about the financial statements, it is about inspiration of quality entrepreneurship and leading others to greatness. Thank you for the past and current finalists and business leaders for making a difference.

T O T H E 2018

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD: Grace Borsari, Founder-Alpha Technologies START UP OF THE YEAR Herbs Cider Manthey Momentum Quinn and Foster Twin Sisters Brewing Company SMALL BUSINESS OF THE YEAR Bellewood Acres Bellingham Training & Tennis Club DeCo Mack Marine Exact Scientific BUSINESS PERSON OF THE YEAR Matt Mullett (All American Marine) Rich Appel (Appel Farms) Steve Cowden (Cowden Gravel) Rowena Birnel (Infusion Solutions)

Finalists!

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MARCH/APRIL 2019 BUSINESSPULSE.COM | 45


SMALL

BUSINESS OF THE YEAR

Exact Scientific Services Personnel Use Skills To Analyze Pathogens and Truth In Labeling By Mary Louise Van Dyke xact Scientific Services (ESS) personnel use skills and an array of scientific and genetic tools that Sherlock Holmes might have envied in identifying E. coli and other troublemaker pathogens. The company also provides analysis for the food and dietary-supplement industries, along with seafood, water, and agricultural products. CEO/Owner and microbiologist Kent Oostra and 34 employees provide answers for clients scattered through the U.S. and other countries. He launched the company in 2006 with three employees, and it has grown in gross revenues an average of 10%, year-over-year. In 2018, the company revenues stood at about $4.5 million, a 24% growth from the previous year. “We grow because our clients tell others about us,” Oostra said. “We don’t have a sales force, we’ve grown organically. I’m very proud of that. It says a lot about how we treat each client as an individual entity, focusing on their unique needs and budgets.” In addition to looking for pathogens that cause illness in humans, and performing nutritional analysis, the laboratory also analyzes heavy metals, probiotics, and vitamins, and provides interpretation of results. A recently added Molecular Biology division develops new platforms for routine testing, Oostra said. “In the last year we’ve developed virus and protozoan testing and a plant pathogen service, testing for viruses and bacteria that infect plants.” ESS is one of just two private labs in the U.S. that offers this service, as approved by the industry regulatory agency, the Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) within the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture. ESS works with the Whatcom County Conservation District and the British Columbia Ministry of Environment to develop a whole genomic-sequencing platform that monitors water quality. Additionally, the lab contracts for all of the National

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Sanitation Foundation’s seafood analysis. And on a more publicly recognized side, Oostra points to numerous ESS projects referred to (though not by name) on the popular Dr. Oz syndicated TV show. The company holds an esteemed International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 17025 accreditation. According to the ISO website, this specifies the general requirements for the competence (for laboratories) to carry out tests and/or calibrations, including sampling. “This a big accomplishment, especially with the size of our scope of accreditation,” Oostra said. “It’s become second-nature to us, and my team should be proud of what it has accomplished.” Oostra grew up in Lynden and graduated from Dordt College in Iowa. He became involved in the farming industry, working as a berry processor and in warehouse management. He also worked at two other testing labs in the area before launching ESS. Oosta, in a written response for the award nomination, listed some typical lab projects. A restaurant, for example, might serve white fish labeled as Pacific Cod. Laboratory staff can perform DNA sequencing and testing to verify if the fish product is Pacific in origin and not a farmed or Atlantic cod. Or the lab might be asked to do water testing for E. coli and discover that the beavers who live in an area are responsible for fecal content. “While beavers are skilled builders, their construction capabilities don’t extend to sanitary facilities,” Oostra said. He wants to add certified non-GMO testing and expand the DNA-sequencing arm of the business. And he emphasized that the company will continue to support community nonprofits, such as Lynden’s Lighted Christmas and Habitat for Humanity, and provide internships for college students. “We’re a service business helping other businesses achieve opportunities available to them,” Oostra said. “We succeed when they succeed.”

Photo by Scott Book

FINALIST


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START-UP BUSINESS OF THE YEAR

When Life Gives You Apples­—Make Great Cider By Mary Louise Van Dyke

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im “Herb” Alexander and his wife, Shama—originators and owners of Herb’s Cider in Bellingham—were blessed in the Fall of 2016 with an abundance of apples in their large orchard at home. “We had this bumper crop,” Shama said, “and we couldn’t figure out what to do with it.” They gave away bushels of it to family and friends. But, what they eventually did led to an enterprise in their garage that became a full-fledged business and saw revenues grow by 4,100% in a year’s time…. Tim, a drummer with the alt-rock band Primus for 30-plus years, was taking a break from his music at the time of the apple-and-pear overload. Neither Alexander wanted the extra produce to rot, and both were avid cider connoisseurs. Tim rented an apple press and the couple experimented in their garage with blending their homegrown Ambrosia and Gravenstein apples and Japanese pears. The idea for a cidery began taking shape as they sampled that first batch, and the couple began bouncing around ideas for the name and a brand. Some people might have tucked the idea away as a “maybe” venture in the future. However, the time seemed ripe to open a start-up business. “If you don’t at least try it (then) you’ll probably never do it,” Shama said in an email, So they introduced a hard apple cider in September 2017, opened a tasting room a month later, and began full-scale production and distribution a year after the product launch. Now they distribute to 38 states and Washington, D.C., and have nearly 90 retailers carrying their ciders throughout Whatcom, Skagit, and Island Counties and the Seattle area, as detailed on the Herb’s Cider website. “We plan to distribute nationwide,” Shama said, “and possibly internationally, as a long-term goal.” Shama, who serves as CEO, brought business experience to the table. She formerly worked as the Sustainability Officer for the North American operations of the B.C.-based LUSH Cosmetics. Tim grew up in West Virginia hearing about his great-granddaddy, a Kentuckian known for his distilled moonshine—an amusing tale told on HerbsCider.com. It appears that Tim had a touch of great-granddaddy’s desire to produce handcrafted alcohol beverages. In the music world, Tim was known as Herb. They ran with

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that brand name. Shama noted, “Tim’s the face of the brand and is widely recognized as one of the world’s best drummers. Hence our logo, company theme, and products all are named after drumming rudiments, drum rhythms, or drums (Single Stroke, Double Stroke, and Triplet).” Shama said that she and Tim toured local cideries, took notes, sampled ciders, and got to know their industry and competitors during their research and development phase. They hired an established expert brewer of hard cider, champagne, and wine, Chris Weir. Together, they implemented traditional cider-making techniques, crafting only with organic fruit, sugar-free, with no additives or coloring. Herb’s Cider launched Single Stroke, with co-packer Finnriver Cidery in Chimacum, Washington (where Weir had worked many years). A month later they opened the tasting room on Bay Street in Bellingham. Herb’s Cider blossomed to 41 times its revenue from January 2018 to January 2019 and has grown to 12 employees. In a new facility on Marine Drive, the company created Single Stroke and Double Stroke, both made from a blend of 100 percent organic apples, and then Triplet Cider, crafted from a blend of three organic, heirloom apple varieties. “Our black-and-white branding sets us apart from other ciders on the market, too,” Shama said. Along the way, the Alexanders said they have discovered the importance of creating a business plan and achievable goals. They quickly found that their costs averaged three-to-four times more than anticipated. “We learned to plan accordingly,” she said. She listed a litany of other lessons learned—e.g., “Be prepared for scaling up, and finding your sweet spot when it comes to growth”— and shared their operating philosophy: “Creating authenticity for customers, showing respect and appreciation of employees, and valuing hard work and a fun workplace environment.” Shama declared that it’s an “exciting time” to be an entrepreneur locally. “Whatcom County is seeing an upsurge in expansion of large-scale building projects, in addition to a growing number of promising new entrepreneurs in all industries,” she commented. “It’s exciting to be a part of this new growth and help support economic development here.”

Photo by Scott Book

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START-UP BUSINESS OF THE YEAR

FINALIST

Manthey Momentum Inspires Families To Hit the Gym By Sherri Huleatt From grandmas getting in shape with their grandkids, to married couples training for races, to young athletes perfecting their soccer skills—Manthey Momentum Sports Performance Training near Ferndale is a family affair. “We have entire families, sometimes up to three generations, exercising in our facility at once,” founder Megan Richey said. “It’s so cool to see families improve not only their capacity for strength and endurance exercises, but also their fitness-for-life activities— like playing with their kids.” Founded by Richey in 2016, about a year in she took on a business partner—personal trainer Jessa Loudon. They moved from a 900-square-foot gym into an expansive 5,000-square-foot location with professional-grade artificial turf and fresh-rubber flooring. That move enabled them to expand offerings for total fitness and performance. Manthey Momentum’s revenues jumped a whopping 240% last year to about $120,000. The customer count has increased from 14 in start-up days to more than 100. Megan and Jessa are the only fulltime staff, and they employ three part-time coaches. Megan Manthey (Richey) played professional soccer in three European countries after graduation from the renowned IMG Academy in Florida and the College of Charleston (S.C.). She said she always dreamt of returning to hometown Ferndale to start a training facility—specifically, one that welcomed kids. “I noticed a large gap in what was available for young athletes in terms of proper athletic development, and a space where excellence in life, as well as sports, could be fostered,” she said. “This

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is how Manthey Momentum was born. Today, we’re proud to not only serve athletes—but also their parents and the adult community at-large.” Manthey Momentum works with all ages, pre-school to retired seniors, providing personal training, small-group fitness, soccer lessons, and athletic-performance training. “We strive to help each of our clients realize their potential, their worth, and a zest for life,” Megan said. “Each member is a part of our family and plays a vital role in the culture of our space.” She said she and Jessa, also a Ferndale native, want to be known as the business in their industry that has created a positive impact in their local community “and in the lives of hundreds, if not thousands, of people who have found their purpose and passion for life.... The most rewarding aspect of our job is watching people discover their self-confidence and a new joy.” The company has faced ups and downs. “We have struggled with long hours, little or no sleep, financial sacrifices, and self-doubt,” Jessa said. They must wear many hats—coach, bookkeeper, janitor, social media coordinator, human resources expert, and more. Jessa said much of their success stems from asking for help when they need it, particularly from business mentors. “Without our friends and family there is no chance we would be where we are today,” Jessa said. “There’s nothing better than getting to share the joy and excitement of this nomination with them—and we can’t thank them enough for their encouragement through the rough patches. The community they’ve helped us build is more than we could ever dream possible.”

Photo by Scott Book

Co-owners Jessa Loudon, left, and Megan Richey, with her daughter Skylar.


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START-UP BUSINESS OF THE YEAR

Not Your Typical Beer Garden By Sherri Huleatt ost start-ups hope that their first year—let alone their first few months—brings in a steady handful of customers. If they’re lucky, a new company will make enough to support another employee. That’s what makes Twin Sisters Brewing Company’s story so mind-blowing. Within just five months of a Summer 2018 start-up in Bellingham’s Sunnyland Neighborhood, Twin Sisters brought in $2 million in revenues and supported 120 employees (75 during the Winter). To say business is booming would be an understatement. Even with, seemingly, a brewery on nearly every Bellingham corner, Twin Sisters has quickly and firmly made a name for its brand. Co-owners Loren DeMuth and Terri Green started the business out of a desire to create “a truly unique beer garden in the Bellingham community,” DeMuth said. What began as the owners simply wanting to build a taproom with food trucks blossomed into a sprawling one-acre brewery that can accommodate up to 400 people. It now includes a full restaurant (called the Bellingham Beer Garden), a separate tasting room, a dog-friendly outdoor beer garden, and plenty of room to host private and business events. The brewery took 12 months to complete and was built mostly by DeMuth’s and Green’s other business, Custom Design Inc. (CDI), which specializes in building high-end hospitality and interior spaces. The owners’ more than 30 combined years of interior architectural experience shines through. The brewery’s craftsmanship is stunning, both inside and outside. The interior boasts custom iron and woodwork, with high-vaulted ceilings and an arched,

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Co-owners Loren DeMuth and Terri Green.

wooden tunnel leading into the restaurant. The exterior offers a large, family friendly lawn space with outdoor seating, games, a space to host local concerts, and twinkle lights to set the mood. “Customers always comment on how much they love the space, and the quality shows,” DeMuth said. The menu features dishes made from scratch and almost entirely locally sourced ingredients from Whatcom, Island, and Skagit Counties. It also offers about 30 beers on tap (both those made in-house and by other local brewers) and craft cocktails for non-beer drinkers (if you can find one in Bellingham). “This is not your typical brewery and restaurant,” DeMuth said. “Having all that we offer in a single location is truly unique. Where else can you can bring your kids and dogs, have a great from-scratch meal with craft beer and cocktails, and enjoy an expansive setting with multiple interesting spaces?” He explained how the couple created the Bellingham Beer Garden to have a park-like atmosphere that’s not on a busy street, with views of the surrounding foothills and lots of sun. Some of the brewery’s success comes from recruiting brewmaster Tom Eastwood, a Bellingham beer aficionado with more than a decade of local brewing experience. He helped craft unique twists on local beer staples, including an Amarillo Pale Ale, Ginger Adams Amber Ale, and “Stouting Thomas” American Imperial Stout. Going forward, Twin Sisters’ hops…er, hopes, to continue growing as a community fixture, hosting more events and barbeques, and increasing the use of its banquet and event spaces. DeMuth’s advice for other start-ups is simple: “Do it right and don’t cut corners.”

Photo by Scott Book

FINALIST


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START-UP BUSINESS OF THE YEAR

A Wardrobe from Quinn & Foster Feels Like a (Half) Million Bucks By Mike McKenzie

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here your wardrobe begins.” That’s the tagline on the website of Quinn & Foster (Q&F), a clothing store for women and men in downtown Bellingham—somewhat of an anomaly in the age of mall, department store, and online sales of fine threads. But based on 12 years of experience with what Owner Christine Hayward described as her similar “up-scale, high-quality brands” store in Eugene, Oregon, she took a leap of faith that Bellingham needed—and would support—a specialized, personal-service, urban store like that Oregon college city did. She opened at a well-known location on the corner of Holly & Commercial Streets in November of 2017. That jump-started Q&F just in time for the Christmas season. A year and a half-milliondollars in sales later, her faith was rewarded. “Gary’s (Men’s and Women’s Clothing Store), which was in that downtown location for 38 years, was closing, and I had been thinking of moving to this area to be closer to my aging mother,” Christine said. “The store now has been my baby for the past two years.” That included nine months of buying clothing lines and a massive overhaul of the space before opening. One of the changes to the storefront most visible from the outside: uncovered windows, providing a view into her world of fashion when walking or driving past. “I believe people like to have a peek in before making the commitment to open the door and come in,” she said. Christine worked with an architect friend, she said, describing her buildout vision in an email as “a beautiful space in a warm, bright atmosphere that my future customers could enjoy.” At Q&F, a customer finds a full array of apparel, with Christine, plus one other full-time and three part-time staffers to help in selections and serve as personal stylists. “We help you find styles that best suit your body….(and) outfit you from head-to-toe (with) brands

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intended to be worn and enjoyed for a number of years,” she said. “Our goal is to send you away with a smile on your face, whether you purchased anything or not.” A major part of Christine’s approach centers on an individualized, fitted wardrobe rather than simply rack-browsing for generic sizing, often ordering special sizes. “Every body can be handsome or beautiful, just as it is,” she said. “It’s about helping you bring out the beauty that exists within you, find a style that suits you and that you’ll feel comfortable in….When you’re feeling good in what you’re wearing, people notice—you exude confidence.” Christine makes buying trips every two months to find new lines and looks, seeking “semi-casual Northwest style,” she said. “I’ve developed a collection that pleases people of many different ages and walks of life, from ages 20-to-90. Q&F customers come from throughout Whatcom County and Lower B.C. Christine also stays in contact with her former customer base in Eugene, traveling there occasionally to set up trunk shows. And, she intends to develop an online-store presence. “I want us to serve as the personal fashion consultant to anyone wanting our help,” she said. She’s tried several business ventures, and she said not all were profitable; but she calls them “an education better than a business degree. I could write a book about the lessons I’ve learned in retail sales. I’ve learned from each experience and used that knowledge in creating the next one.” The main one? “Customer service and the quality of goods you have to sell,” she said. “Smiles on their faces is number one.” Her experience here rings positively as Year Two unfolds. “In doing business in Whatcom County and Bellingham,” she said, “I find the community to be very supportive of local businesses— much more so than the county I moved from.”

Photo by Scott Book

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GRACE BORSARI continued from Page 30

taught me how to build circuit boards.” She would shop for the parts and put the circuit boards together for batteries that still can be found on upwards of 90% of the cable TV poles in the world. The friend’s company closed down and Kaiser began to find other customers for the product. “In 1976, we realized we really needed to be in the U.S.,” Grace said. “More business, less hassle with U.S. Customs, etc., and we moved marketing, sales, soldering, everything, and rented a building in Bellingham.” Again drawing from her roots, literally, Grace designed the Alpha logo and a flip chart with detailed drawings of how to build the backup power supply. She also registered GB Enterprises, the contracted manufacturer for Alpha Technologies products. In 2004, that became Altair Advanced Industries. Orders poured in, including contracts with Cox and Comcast. Grace’s company that began with five had grown last year to more than 450 employees and about $250 million in annual revenues. Alpha overall became the largest privately-owned business based in Whatcom County, with more than 1,000 employees worldwide and $800 million in revenues. They grew by adding divisions, buying related companies, and creating backup for other large entities that require uninterruptible power. They also created in Bellingham the only testing facility north of San Francisco with seismic tables for folks like McDonald’s, hospitals, traffic signal providers, fire departments, factories—“anything that uses power and must work uninterrupted in heat, cold, rain, snow, and storms.” Grace points with pride at how, since the very beginning, Alpha has operated in the black. “We always financed ourselves,” she said. She learned to operate frugally. Some examples: “I figured out that nail polish would hold a part in place cheaper than red sealer…, that we could make $150,000 extra every quarter by selling used pallets, instead of burning them or (laughing) making a treehouse out of them…, adding a stainless steel option over nickel-plated parts for HEALTH continued from Page 20

the trail, which gave me space for thinking and planning. Sometimes I’d listen to leadership podcasts. Sometimes I’d listen to really loud music, so I didn’t have to think about anything at all. I called those my cheap therapy days. Ha! Two lessons learned on the trail As the weeks and months rolled by, I learned that I had grit and determination, and that I knew how to set goals and to compete with myself, instead of comparing what I was doing with others. This challenge, and the time I spent in nature, taught me that I didn’t give up on things that were hard and outside of my comfort zone. Guess what? Those qualities are also important for self-employed people. I also realized along the way that keeping myself healthy and well is a good business practice. I know that many people depend on my work, and I don’t want to let them down by being sick. That insight motivated me. Better brain-life balance achieved! Over the course of the year, through daily efforts, I realized that a shift had occurred. I had planned my days around trail time, instead of the other way around. I could feel that I was on a path (literally) to improved wellness and a better brain-life balance. It seems that the experts who recommend connecting with nature as a way for entrepreneurs to reduce stress and improve wellness are right. That 365-day wellness challenge changed me in ways I didn’t dream of when I took those initial steps in January 2018. I didn’t realize at the time that I was working my way toward better brain-life balance. I’d thought I just needed a bit more exercise and to get away from work a little more. With my feet on the trail, placing myself in nature each day, I’ve changed. I now go to yoga classes two to three times a week for grounding

added income…, (and) we could work off of purchase orders requiring 50% down, rebating a customer 2% for paying in 10 days, and earning 18% from the bank while sitting on that money.” Smiling, she spoke of another business window she opened from knowledge gained as that younger sister: “There were legal advantages for a female-owned business, which gave me a foot in the door, but I also was playing with big guys and I knew how to play by their rules.” Lending her part to the Kaiser-Borsari Educational Trust, Grace also has demonstrated a full-on commitment to giving back to the community. The trust has given more than $2 million over the last 22 years toward some 150 scholarships at Western Washington University (WWU) and other institutions, covering athletics, engineering, and diversity. Grace, whose company is nationally recognized as a Women-Owned Business Enterprise, targeted many scholarships toward women studying computer sciences and materials. In 2015, Grace personally donated a $1 million grant to WWU’s Institute for Energy Studies, which named its electrical engineering lab in Alpha Technologies’ honor. “It felt great to help make it possible for the Institute to grow here, at Western,” she said. “It’s not just about being book smart and technical, but also about interacting and teamwork. You don’t always get to learn that at school.” Additionally, Grace serves on the board of directors for the Innovative Resource Center, a nonprofit incubator that assists entrepreneurial startups. This year Grace has transitioned, she said, “from CEO to landlord.” Formerly she was involved in operations across Europe, Australia, Africa, Central America, Mexico, and Cypress, which led to a popular Alpha slogan: “The sun never sets on the Alpha empire.” But in the sale, GB Enterprises retained six buildings, most still occupied under lease to Alpha, and nine aircraft. The sun, obviously, hasn’t set on Grace Borsari as a Renaissance Woman. P+

“Keeping myself healthy and well is a good business practice. I know that many people depend on my work, and I don’t want to let them down by being sick.” and for a chance to really disconnect from technology. I learned about mindfulness and I practice being present in each moment. I set personal-growth intentions. And I eat healthier. On January 1 of this new year, I began a new 365-day challenge. One thing we entrepreneurs learn quickly is that we’re never done learning, never done growing. Every day brings more challenges to our old ways of thinking and more opportunities to challenge ourselves. Better brain-life balance in the past year has led to changes I hadn’t expected, and I’m genuinely excited to discover how my relationships with work and life continue to grow in 2019. Onward I go. Patti Rowlson launched PR Consulting in 2009. Her small business helps Whatcom County companies, large and small, manage their marketing efforts, including communications, branding, public relations, copywriting, website tech support, and recruitment advertising. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Whatcom Business Alliance. https://pattirowlson.com/

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QA and

Dynamic Duos: Father-Son & Lean Six Sigma Interview by Mike McKenzie Jeff Gray and his son, Mason, moved to Bellingham last year and they have cut a wide swath into their life mission—instructing and guiding business leaders through the internationally acclaimed Lean and Six Sigma training. In addition to the full curriculum they created and teach in Bellingham Technical College’s Continuing Education Program, businesses contract with them through Jeff’s company, SixSigmaTV.Net. What’s the difference between Lean and Six Sigma Mason Gray: Lean, in short, is eliminating waste in business. Jeff Gray: Six Sigma reduces variations and defects. You merged them. Why? JG: Combined, they work together to eliminate the costs of poor-quality performance, the things that sink a business. MG: You can do one without the other, but it makes more sense to add the simplicity of Lean to the reliability of Six Sigma. It’s a happy marriage. Photo by Scott Book

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What’s at the core? JG: Teaching businesses to eliminate where they’re bleeding (wasting resources) and reducing their variabilities so they can innovate and grow. In a nutshell, the keys are to standardize and stabilize, then innovate and grow to the next level of excellence and productivity. Teach it where? MG: Courses at Bellingham Technical College (BTC), where I graduated in 2018 from the fisheries and aquaculture science program. We’ve written BTC’s curriculum for Lean Six Sigma and we teach the courses. What’s the methodology? MG: With clients, we hold a variety of workshops focusing on waste, variation, innovation, and how to build market share and revenue growth using the DMAIC Lean Six Sigma methodology. [Note: DMAIC is a five-phase process—define, measure, analyze, improve, control.]


JG: We measure KPIs (Key Performance Indicators).We relate projects and issues to KPIs, aimed at growing revenues, eliminating waste by X-percentage, increasing capacity, improving through-puts, and reducing turnover. Is it all classroom lectures? MG: No. We also go to the workplaces and work with them hands-on, with support and mentoring on projects, measuring goals and targets, and working to close gaps. We teach the executives to learn and lead as they integrate Lean Six Sigma into their projects. And we ask them to bring in their next leaders, too. And it’s all tied to net savings on the bottom line. JG: We’re working with numerous clients on-site: Silver Reef Resort, TransOcean Products, Cascadia Eye, Brist Manufacturing, Chevron/ Texaco, and SODO Commercial Builders. What’s that technique you use with a funny name? MG: You mean the Gemba Walk? It’s a Japanese term that means ‘go to the scene of the crime.’ JG: In English, it’s basically saying to go to where the work is done. See how things are performed. And find out what their ‘crimes’ are. MG: It’s an assessment tool. We do it the first day with leadership and subject-matter experts to identify areas for optimization. How did you develop your expertise? JG: I have a Master Black Belt in Six Sigma and have taught it since the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, when I worked at Boeing. (The Grays hail from the Seattle/Kirkland area. Jeff has a B.A. degree from City University) My involvement in Lean began in the division that builds airplane interiors. We had thousands of scrap parts, all roped off—waste. A VP visited Japan and decided to change the way we did business. It’s a long story, but basically they sent me to see Dr. (W. Edwards) Deming, who’s recognized as the pioneer of Lean, and adopt his Toyota production system. Back at Boeing, I was put in charge of increasing quality by eliminating waste, sustaining gains, and training our division. Essentially, I was thrown into the lion’s den.

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Mason, you just finished college. What about you? MG: Before I went off to school, I worked for my father’s business (SixSigmaTV.net) and learned all I could. He had me gathering metrics and doing value-stream mapping. JG (laughing): He told me, “I don’t know about all this stuff.” And I said, “All I want you to do is to find out.”

Q AND A continued on Page 64 MARCH/APRIL 2019 BUSINESSPULSE.COM | 57


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PULSE

HOURS AFTER DINING / BEVERAGES / BO

OKS + MORE

By Tara Nelson

CASCADIA International Women’s Film Festival

Four days of films directed by women, workshops, and Academy Award-winning filmmaker Freida Lee Mock

As a Time magazine reporter, Cheryl Crooks spent much of her career telling other people’s stories. Today, she’s focused on helping women tell their stories through film. Crooks is the Executive Director and Founder of CASCADIA International Women’s Film Festival, an annual nonprofit event in April that exclusively showcases women-directed films. This festival comes to the Pickford Film Center in Bellingham from April 11-14. “A woman’s perspective is too rarely seen in film,” Crooks said. “An art form that teaches, informs, inspires, and motivates is missing an essential perspective on humanity when women’s voices are not heard.” CASCADIA also provides a venue and support system for women filmmakers and puts Bellingham on the map as a film destination, along with CASCADIA’s targeted markets of New York, Los Angeles, Portland, Vancouver, B.C. and Seattle. And the ARC Film Festival 2020 will show a selection of CASCADIA’s films in Mainz, Germany. The 2019 film lineup includes feature-length and short documentaries, narratives, and animated films from around the world. Ajo, a film by 2017 CASCADIA Director More Raca of Kosovo that qualified for an Oscar nomination this year, follows a young woman who escapes an early marriage arranged by her father. Indigenous films include Edge of the Knife, shot entirely in the Haida Gwaii language, and ​ OChiSkwaCho, directed by Jules Koostachin—a returning CASCADIA Director and band member of the Attawapiskat First Nation. Koostachin presents a spiritually ailing, elderly, two-spirit woman who must decide whether to stay with her grandchildren or follow a sacred being known to many Indigenous people as a spiritual messenger. Western Washington University joins CASCADIA to present ​China L​ove, directed by Australian Olivia Martin-McGuire. The film explores China’s emergence from its restrictive, highly traditional past to a globalized nation, as seen through the lens of its booming wedding industry. On April 12, a film and conversation event features four-time Oscar-nominated Director Freida Lee Mock, best known for her films​ Anita and “Maya Lin: A Strong, Clear Vision,” f​or which she won an Oscar. Her newest documentary is “​ RUTH: Justice Bader Ginsberg In Her Own Words.” For more info, visit cascadiafilmfest.org

MARCH/APRIL 2019 BUSINESSPULSE.COM | 59


event picks PULSE AFTER HOURS COMEDY Ladies of Laughter: Funny and Fabulous MARCH 16 Ladies of Laughter: Funny & Fabulous is back for its third showing on the MBT Main Stage. This year promises three new current standouts from the comedy circuit: Leighann Lord, Erin Jackson, and Patty Rosborough. These powerful players in comedy have resumes that boast Last Comic Standing, Conan, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, VH1, NFL Network, co-hosting on Comedy Central with Jon Stewart, and much, much more. Don’t miss this star-studded evening with fantastic funny ladies performing right here in Bellingham. Expect adult humor and themes. Mount Baker Theatre, 7:30 p.m. Tickets at mountbakertheatre.com.

MUSIC Kate Olson and the KO Ensemble MARCH 13 Seattle soprano sax sensation Olson has toured internationally and has played with Terry Riley, Stuart Dempster,

Pauline Oliveros, Allison Miller, Bobby Previte, Skerik, Patricia Barber and pop music icons Elvis Costello, Brandi Carlile, Sir Mix-a-lot, Matt Cameron. In 2016 she was nominated for Earshot Jazz’s Best NW Instrumentalist, and the K.O. Ensemble was also nominated as best NW Alternative Group. Olson is well versed in straight ahead jazz, minimalism, ambient electro-acoustic music, and free improv. Sylvia Center for the Arts, 7 p.m. Tickets at door after 6 p.m. Doors at 6:30 p.m. First come, first seated.

Milo Petersen Quartet MARCH 20 Whatcom Jazz Music Arts Center presents Seattle guitarist, drummer, composer, and educator Milo Petersen. In addition to playing with the wide array of amazing musicians in Seattle, he has performed with some of the world’s finest: Gary Steele, Ron Eschete, Julian Priester, Joe Sample, Ernestine Anderson, Herb Ellis, Nancy King, Cedar Walton (with the Composer’s and Improviser’s Orchestra), Mose Allison and others. Petersen recorded two CDs with master drummer Elvin Jones. Sylvia Center for the Arts, 7 p.m. Tickets at door after 6 p.m. Doors at 6:30 p.m. First come, first seated.

PULSE PICK

ARTRAGEOUS 4.27.19 | 7:30 PM MOUNT BAKER THEATRE APRIL 27 Celebrate the arts at the 92nd birthday party and fundraiser for Mount Baker Theatre mega party. Artists create beautiful artwork before your eyes with a palette of captivating vocals, intricate choreography, and exciting audience interaction. The Artrageous troupe of artists, musicians, singers, and dancers pays tribute to a variety of art forms, pop icons, and musical genres, culminating in a gallery of fabulous finished paintings. Artrageous takes you on a unique visual journey packed with wild inspiration, creativity, and fun. Mount Baker Theatre, 7:30 p.m. Tickets at mountbakertheatre.com.

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VISUAL Lanny Little: Still Painting the Town MARCH 7 – MAY 31 The Jansen Art Center is pleased to welcome Lanny Little to the Fine Arts Gallery for an exhibit of his work this spring. The exhibit, Still Painting the Town, opens with a reception from 6–8 p.m. on Thursday, March 7. Jansen Art Center, jansenartcenter.org.

Former Eagle: Don Felder MARCH 22 Experience serious rock ‘n’ roll with Don Felder, renowned as a former lead guitarist of one of the most popular and influential rock groups of all time: the Eagles. A member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame since 1998, Felder served as a member of the Eagles for 27 years, putting his mark on numerous Eagles milestones and later writing a New York Times best-selling memoir. Felder originated the music and co-wrote the Eagles’ biggest hit—the iconic, Grammy-studded smash “Hotel California.” Mount Baker Theatre, 7:30 p.m. Tickets at mountbakertheatre.com.

THEATER Monty Python’s SPAMALOT MARCH 10 Embark on a quest alongside King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table in this outrageous musical comedy. Lovingly ripped off from the film classic Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Spamalot delivers first-rate hilarity. Flying cows, killer rabbits, taunting Frenchmen, and show-stopping musical numbers are just a few of the reasons audiences worldwide are eating up Spamalot. Mount Baker Theatre, 7 p.m. Tickets at mountbakertheatre.com.


reads PULSE AFTER HOURS

An Economist Walks into a Brothel Allison Schrager Is it worth swimming in shark-infested waters to surf a 50-foot, career-record wave? Is it riskier to make an action movie or a horror movie? Should sex workers forfeit 50 percent of their income for added security or take a chance and keep the extra money? Most people wouldn’t expect an economist to have an answer to these questions—but those people haven’t met Allison Schrager, an economist and award-winning journalist who has spent her career examining how people manage risk in their lives and careers. In An Economist Walks into a Brothel, Schrager equips readers with five principles for dealing with risk, principles used by some of the world’s

most interesting risk takers. For instance, she interviews a professional poker player about how to stay rational when the stakes are high, a paparazzo in Manhattan about how to spot different kinds of risk, horse breeders in Kentucky about how to diversify risk and minimize losses, and a war general who led troops in Iraq about how to prepare for what we don’t see coming. When you start to look at risky decisions through Schrager’s new framework, you can increase the upside to any situation and better mitigate the downsides. (April 2, 2019, Portfolio) Hardcover $27: Available to order Village Books, Barnes & Nobel, and Amazon.

Eye Contact Brian Grazer In Brian Grazer’s bestseller A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life, Academy Awardwinning producer Brian Grazer helped everyone from parents to CEOs to artists to young graduates develop their curiosity into a superpower that would expand their world. Now, he reveals a new secret. Whether you’re looking to develop a relationship, build your confidence, or win a negotiation—the answer is in the eyes. While it might seem like second nature, Grazer proves that eye contact—really looking someone in the eyes—is one of the most transformative habits you can develop in your daily life. Eye contact has the power to offer validation, show generosity, create intimacy,

and—most importantly—establish genuine human connection. Grazer transports you into the moments from his life where eye contact proves to be the key to unlocking power, emotion, and insight. These are moments like a high-powered CEO conference with Bill Gates; a surprise date with supermodel Kate Moss; a tough conversation with Eminem when creating the movie 8 Mile; a tête-à-tête with George W. Bush; and encounters with personalities like Taraji Henson, Airbnb Founder Brian Chesky, and Chance The Rapper. (September, 2019, Simon & Schuster) Hardcover $24: Available to order Village Books, Barnes & Nobel, and Amazon.

Loonshots: How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas That Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries Safi Bahcall What do James Bond and Lipitor have in common? What can we learn about human nature and world history from a glass of water? In Loonshots, physicist and entrepreneur Safi Bahcall reveals a surprising new way of thinking about the mysteries of group behavior that challenges everything we thought we knew about nurturing radical breakthroughs. Drawing on the science of phase transitions, Bahcall shows why teams, companies, or any group with a mission will suddenly change from embracing wild new ideas to rigidly rejecting them, just as flowing water will suddenly change into brittle ice. Mountains of print have been written about culture.

Loonshots identifies the small shifts in structure that control this transition, the same way that temperature controls the change from water to ice. Using examples that range from the spread of fires in forests to the hunt for terrorists online, and stories of thieves and geniuses and kings, Bahcall shows how this new kind of science helps us understand the behavior of companies and the fate of empires. Loonshots distills these insights into lessons for creatives, entrepreneurs, and visionaries everywhere. (March 19, 2019) Hardcover $29.99: Available to order Village Books, Barnes & Nobel, and Amazon.

MARCH/APRIL 2019 BUSINESSPULSE.COM | 61


Wishful Drinking: Spring Edition PULSE AFTER HOURS Reveling in the bounty of the Willamette Valley

By Ted Seifert / Co-Owner, Seifert & Jones Wine Merchants Sure, humans don’t actually hibernate, but most of us feel the Winter funk at some point or another. Oh Spring, how you’ve been missed! Now that you’re here, our wanderlust is rising with the mercury. In fewer than six hours, you can find yourself right in the middle of the rolling vineyards of the Willamette Valley wine country, the land of Pinot Noir and so many other fabulous wines. Enjoying the best the PNW has to offer also can be done from the comfort of your own home. That being said, let this delicious sampler guide you through the Valley—sip by sip. Wine bottle photos Tiffiany Brooks

Illahe 2017 Pinot Noir Estate $19.99

Cristom 2016 Pinot Noir Mt. Jefferson Cuvee $34.99 Amity Vineyards 2017 White Pinot NoiR $19.99 Literally meaning “a friendly relationship,” Amity Vineyards is a friend and family owned winery in the Amity hills of the Willamette Valley. The first vineyards were planted in 1971. This wine offers notes of rosewater, passion fruit, and citron, making it a light reflection of the process it went through to be made.

Cristom Vineyards named its Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, Mt. Jefferson Cuvée, in 1994 after Mount Jefferson (10,495 feet, 3,199 m), located in the Cascade Range, due east of the winery and dramatically visible from our tasting room. Refined and sleekly built, with precise raspberry, hibiscus tea and spice flavors that take on momentum toward polished tannins.

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Scenic Valley Farms 2017 Gruner Veltliner (1 liter) $15.99 Bottled in traditional green 1L crown-cap bottles, this is a serious wine in a sexy package. Crisp notes of citrus & tannins, making it pair with pork belly, grilled vegetables, or shellfish with cream sauce.

Illahe, pronounced IllUh-Hee, is a local word used from Chinook jargon meaning “earth” or “place” or “soil.” The aromas begin with strawberry, tamarind, and blackberry then broaden along the palate to include black cherry, plums with notes of chocolate and earth.


Leah Jorgensen Cellars 2017 “Tour Rain” $28.99 Higlighting Southern Oregon with this blend of 40% Gamay Noir and 60% Cabernet Franc. Offers a lovely balance of floral, red fruit, and a hint of pepper and sweet wood—with aromatics of ripe cherry, raspberry, cassis, hibiscus, rose petals, cedar, cigar box, vanilla bean, and then flavors of bing cherry, pomegranate, cranberry, and raspberry.

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AGRICULTURE continued from Page 24

safely applied became dangerously full. Glen didn’t want to risk manure spilling from his lagoon and causing a discharge, so he transported it to an empty storage tank at a neighboring farm. With more and more dairy farmers going out of business, empty lagoons and tanks are not that hard to find. However, the pumping equipment likely hadn’t been used for some time. It failed and caused a minor discharge. Glen self-reported the spillage and received a notice of violation from the Department of Agriculture, his first and only violation in his 44 years of farming. He thought that was the end of it, until 2018 when he received a letter from the Department of Ecology. Because he was now a “known polluter,” he was required to get a pollution permit known as a CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation),

despite having a relatively small farm. Coupled with the costs of the stringent state Dairy Nutrient Management regulations passed in 1998, the CAFO permit included enough additional costs that Glen had had enough. The camel’s back broke, and it triggered his terrible and hard decision to sell. To add insult to injury, Glen recently received a letter from the Department of Ecology reversing its earlier decision to require him to secure the CAFO permit. “Too late,” he said with another wry smile. Glen stood in his now-empty barn, reflecting on 44 years of farming, as he shared the story of the demise of his business. “It’s hard knowing the kids and grandkids can’t come out to the barn and play with the cows and calves,” he lamented. His eyes went out to the distance, perhaps thinking of those wonderful memories that he could not pass on to the following generations.

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For more information, contact: melissa@businesspulse.com 64 | BUSINESSPULSE.COM MARCH/APRIL 2019

Q AND A continued from Page 57

And then? MG: I attended Western Washington a year while going through the ‘what-do-I-want-to-do’ phase. While living at home at age 21, I decided to return to Bellingham and sort out possibilities. Ironically, in that I’m teaching resiliency, I lived out of my car for two weeks, went to Sehome Starbucks every day and sat in the same spot and planned the next five years of my life. I was asking myself, ‘What do you want to do every day of your life?’ And I thought, ‘I like to fish.’ So I enrolled in the BTC fisheries program and, after I finished, I saw the opportunity to apply Lean Six Sigma in the community. Six months later, we were here teaching our curriculum! We’re running consecutive classes through a government program, the Jobs Skills Program, teaching the Yellow, Green, Black Belt, and Executive-Champion levels of Lean Six Sigma throughout Whatcom County.

“We’re teaching businesses to eliminate where they’re bleeding (wasting resources) and reducing their variabilities so they can innovate and grow.” —Jeff Gray­ Founder/CEO, SixSigmaTV.net How did you two partner up on this initiative? JG: I worked for Washington Mutual after Boeing, and by ’08, when the market fell, I’d saved WAMU millions of dollars. But they still said ‘adios’ and laid me off. I began consulting with major corporations—Capital One, Price Waterhouse Cooper, Chase (which had purchased WAMU), Starbucks, Microsoft, adidas, the U.S. Navy and the Department of Defense. Along the way I created SixSigmaTV.Net, and Mason worked for me. MG: Dad came up to visit when I was a BTC student, and he saw a lot of ways to increase the Chum Salmon Stock through the school’s hatchery operations. JG: It was an opportunity to examine all the factors creating the problem, like water quality, temperature, what substances were in the water, and more. What’s the end game in your mission? JG: Teach all executives, managers, and general workforce to learn and lead as they integrate Lean Six Sigma into their organizations. At the highest level—domination. P+


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Business Pulse magazine March|April 2019  

Business Pulse magazine March|April 2019