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Pride Printing

Hull-Oakes: Full steam ahead

Company celebrates 50th anniversary / Page 7

Lumber company balances history, competitiveness in custom timber market / Page 8

Focus 2014

STILL GOING STRONG Profiling local businesses and their formula for longevity Friday, February 28, 2014

Experts: Business success no secret BY MIKE MCINALLY

Mark Ylen/Democrat-Herald

Rice Loggings’ Manuel Coehlo, foreground, and Mark Solberg prepare logs for transport on a landing south of Holley.

Family roots run deep for Rice Logging BY ALEX PAUL

graduated in 1950 and Rose in 1953. What makes the operSWEET HOME — ation a bit unusual is Many businesses talk that Chris Rice is a fullabout “family values,” time pharmacist when but with a family tree he isn’t bidding logging dating back to the jobs and brother Dan is 1850s in the Sweet an electrical engineer Home area, family is who spends two weeks truly at the heart of out of each month both Rice Logging and Robert L. Rice Trucking. working for a utility company on the big isFounded in the early land of Hawaii. 1980s by Robert Rice “We do both tower and his wife, Rose, today’s operation feeds and shovel logging,” Chris said.“Like every50 families, from Monmouth to Sutherlin, but one else, about 1990 we switched remains over to firmly mecharooted on nized operthe family ations land claim from big Year founded: 1980 on Rice wood after Business purpose: Road near Logging and trucking operathe spotHolley.Antions from Monmouth to ted owl other 12 Sutherlin. issue.” people Number of employees: work on The Rice Logging, 50; Robert L. the truckthree Rice Trucking, 12. ing side. brothers Keys to longevity: bring their At 81, • Provide customers with own exBob Rice top-notch service, shooting pertise to remains for top value on every log. the table. active in • Treat employees and the busicustomers like they are Chris family. ness, handles mostly contracts, building roads, while planning and decides sons, Chris, Dan and how each logging job Doug take care of daywill run. to-day operations and Dan focuses on mewife Rose, daughter chanical work and Doug Jeannette Hoover and focuses on maintaining niece, Heather Swanson, and moving equipment. keep the office running “We try very hard to smoothly. communicate effecEveryone in the family tively,” Chris said.“We is a Sweet Home High still rely on dad, too.We School graduate. Bob each have a niche.”


Mark Ylen

The Rice logging family, from left: Doug, Dan, Bob and Chris.

Tomco, but mostly, we work for Weyerhaeuser,” Chris said. Most timber sales are in the 45- to 50-year-old range, Chris said. A key to the family’s success has been hiring good people and treating them right, Chris said. “Dan Jones, who runs a log processor, has been with us since 1973,” Chris said.“Justin Chafin started with us right out of high school about 1996. He’s a mechanic and jack of all trades for us.” Another Rice tenet is that the heart of their business is “providing a quality service to the landowners.” “Log quality is the key and we have to deliver, every time,” Chris emphasized.“That means we deliver logs that Courtesy of Rice Family aren’t cracked, that are Chris sits on his father’s lap around 1955. the right length and After federal and state both valued by their properly graded and timber sales dried up in employer. sorted. Every log must the 1990s, the business “We have done work be properly evaluated has worked almost tofor Cascade Timber Con- to generate the most tally for Weyerhaeuser, value for the sulting, Roseburg Lumgaining a reputation for ber and Roseboro Lumquality work and safety, ber, Guistina and Continued on Page 2

Looking for the secret to long-running business success? It’s no secret, say mid-valley experts: Start with a good idea. If you’re working with a family business, make sure it involves the entire family, and take special care with the younger generation. Work really hard. Hire with care. Keep a sharp eye out for business trends and don’t be afraid of change. Be committed to your community. Repeat as necessary. As part of this Focus special section, we asked people who spend time watching mid-valley businesses to reflect on what characteristics they’ve noticed in successful enterprises. Every business is different, of course. But some characteristics showed up over and over again. Kevin Dwyer, the executive director of the Corvallis Chamber of Commerce, said it starts with a good idea.“So many people just come up with off-the-wall ideas,” said Dwyer, who logged experience with chambers in Washington state before coming to the mid-valley. Janet Steele, now celebrating her 20th year with the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce, said a good idea is just the start. Long-running business success requires commitment, she said, on a number of different levels. “Commitment to the business in the first place,” said Steele, the president of the Albany chamber.“To their employees.To the community, obviously.And they need to continually look at how they can make the business better and to watch for trends.“ Successful businesspeople, Steele said,“are visionaries in a way. … They Continued on Page 8




Employees at Mary’s River Lumber Co. in Corvallis work on the molder line with tongue and grove kiln dried paneling recently. Andy Cripe

Marys River Lumber: Specialize to survive BY CANDA FUQUA There has always been a high demand for cedar, but the trick, according to Marys River Lumber Co. co-founder Robert Avery, has been finding ways to meet that demand. The Avery family solved that problem 40 years ago by specializing in manufacturing products — like decking, siding and interior paneling — from second-growth western red cedar. The lumber industry had operated for decades under the premise that there was only value in giant, old and increasingly rare cedar trees, but the Avery family proved that the resilient wood of younger, renewable cedar could be just as valuable. “There was a need for it, and no one cut second-growth cedar,” said Avery, who served as the company’s president for the first 30 years and its board chair for the past 10 years. “The logs were there — they just didn’t know what to do with them.” With a finishing plant north of Corvallis and the newly-purchased sawmill in Philomath, Marys River Lumber

Andy Cripe

Western red cedar tongue and groove kiln-dried paneling produced by Marys River.

Andy Cripe

From left, Thomas Avery, company vice president; Robert Avery, cofounder; and Brad Kirkbride, president of Marys River Logging Co.

bedding. “People accepted second-growth cedar,” Year Founded: 1974 Avery said.“We found a Business Purpose: Nation’s largest producer of western niche.” red cedar lumber products, such as decking, siding and panelMarys River Lumber ing has grown over the past Number of Employees: 170, about 100 of them in Benton County four decades to employ Keys to longevity: 170 people in opera• A niche market: making products from second-growth tions in Benton County western red cedar and Washington state. It • A family-owned business that values its relationship with has become the nation’s customers and employees largest producer of • Providing consistently high-quality products western red cedar products, selling to the three largest building material began in 1974 to turn siding, fence pickets second-growth cedar and trim began to sell as retailers in the U.S. — Home Depot, Lowe’s logs into products.The fast as the company and Menards. wood, which is naturally could produce it. BriAvery attributes the resilient to insects and quettes were produced decay, had more knots from the bark, and left- success to the secondgrowth niche, as well as and was lighter in color over pieces and shavthan old-growth cedar ings were sold as wood- the company’s business model.The family busilumber, but the decking, chips and animal


ness makes a good product and takes care of its employees and customers, he said. “Then the profits take care of themselves,” he added. Loyal employees are definitely part of the success, company President Brad Kirkbride said. “We have a really good team of people — really experienced, good, dedicated employees,” he said.“We have a kind of 20-year club and up, and we have lots of them.” Marys River Lumber has weathered the devastating recession and, in August 2012, a fire that destroyed its sawmill in Montesano,Washington. The company purchased a new nearby facility, and rode through the economic downturn. “It’s been really tough through this recession

Rice Logging Continued from Page 1

landowner.” Brother Dan agreed. “It takes a lot of skill to get the log to the right place, because it’s a moving target and decisions have to be made quickly,” Dan said. For example, should a tree be kept at 80 to 100 feet and sold as a powerline transmission pole, or cut into 60-foot lengths as a domestic log? The difference in value to the landowner can be in multiples of hundreds of dollars, not just a few dollars one way or another. The brothers agreed that logging “is a good life ... it gets in your blood.” “The challenge is to be able to look at a job and determine how to most efficiently get it done,” Chris said.

Mark Ylen/

Rose Rice still works in the Holley office with sons Dan, left, and Chris and niece Heather Swanson.

“Where should the roads go in? Where should landings go? Should it be a shovel or tower operation?” Being family-run also allows the companies to

make decisions that benefit the community. Both companies are well known for their local philanthropy, from helping build the Weddle Covered Bridge in

Sankey Park to supporting the annual Working Loggers Relays and youth-oriented activities in Sweet Home. “We have 50 employees and that means 50

families rely on us,” Chris said.“We feel that responsibility. It’s also why we greatly emphasize safety above all else.” Safety meetings are

— that has been a real killer for us,”Avery said. “In fact, we’re still not out of the woods as an industry.“ The company, however, chose not to pass the negative financial impact onto its employees, according to company Vice President Thomas Avery, Robert Avery’s son. “In this downturn, a lot of companies downsized or have gone out of business,” he said.“We did a costof-living increase on wages once during this downturn, and we haven’t laid anybody off — in fact, we’ve added people.” The company employs about 100 people in its Benton County operation and another 70 in its Washington operation in Montesano and Bow. held frequently and there’s a day-long safety seminar held annually. “We talk about everything from CPR to new safety issues,” Chris said. “We also have a safety incentive program company-wide.Weyerhaeuser is a zero-tolerance company when it comes to safety and we emphasize that.” And taking care of the environment has also been a big issue for Bob Rice. He once told a logging magazine reporter that he insists his truck drivers move their loads across the entire width of a roadway to avoid building up a crown in the middle of the road, which could set up erosion issues. What does the future hold to keep Rice Logging a family operation? “There are some cousins, so there’s potential,” Chris Rice said. But he added, with a smile, that the trio of brothers still have a lot of years left in them.




King Kone Cambodian immigrants continue friendly legacy for Albany landmark BY AMANDA NOWACKI ALBANY DEMOCRAT-HERALD

With a buzz of customers, the Suks are always busy serving ice cream, burgers and fries to their customers, maintaining an Albany landmark. The Suks own King Kone on Salem Avenue.They bought the small restaurant in May 1999. Thy and Eng Suk immigrated from Cambodia to California in 1988. “We came over because of the war,”Thy said. They moved to Corvallis in 1984. Thy and his brother owned Gramma Dama’s Doughnuts in Corvallis for several years before the Suks bought King Kone in 1999. “I was a business owner and when I drove by this business, I always saw cars in the parking lot and the drivethru,” he said.“When I saw the business go up for sale, I put an offer on it and bought it.” Thy and his wife have two grown children and are able to run the business without any help.Thy works the grill and Eng takes the orders and prepares the ice cream. “It’s a small place, so we only need two of us.” They serve soft serve and Umpqua hard ice cream. “This was all set up before I got this business,” Thy said.“I came in and got some training and then just did what the former owners did.” Thy thinks the business has been around since 1961, but he can’t be

Jesse Skoubo

Eng and Thy Suk have owned the King Kone, known for its ice cream and burgers, since 1999.


The King Kone has been at the same location since it opened sometime around 1961.

Year founded: No one knows for sure, but sometime around 1961. What it does: King Kone serves hamburgers and ice cream. Number of employees: Two Three keys to longevity: Work hard, put in a lot of hours, and enjoy your customers.

sure. “I don’t know a whole lot about the history of the business, only that it’s been here for a very long time,” he said.“I only know the history since I have been here.” Thy explained that business for King Kone is much better during the summer, but the establishment has loyal customers, even during the winter, including a man who has been patronizing the restaurant for 30 years now. “I really like my customers and I enjoy my work.”Thy said. Thy said that he and his wife have

Jesse Skoubo

a lot of favorite customers, but don’t know their names. “We have been here so long that some of my favorite customers have passed away,” he said. Thy said one of his favorite parts of his job is just talking to the people who frequent his restaurant. “It’s hard to stay lonely here,” he said with a smile. One piece of advice he would give to new business owners is to “work really hard and put a lot of hours in. That’s just how it is when you own

your own business.” Thy said one of his favorite things is making the burgers. His favorite burger to eat is the super deluxe. But the most popular burger is the King Kone, which has a large beef patty, several slices of cheese, lettuce, bacon, pickles, olives and a fried egg, according to the menu. “We do OK for a small business.We keep running and that’s what is important,”Thy said.“We want to thank our customers very much for keeping us here.”




Foress Sign created out of the ashes of disaster BY STEVE LUNDEBERG It was fire, flood and then the final straw — canceled insurance — that drove brothers Paul and Louis Snook from bridge construction into the signmaking business in the mid-1950s. Today, their transformed company, Foress Sign & Manufacturing, remains a key cog in the mid-valley economy and a fixture in the region as a builder, installer and maintainer of commercial and highway signage throughout the Pacific Northwest. “There aren’t many places in Oregon,” said Farra Snook, Louis’ son, “where we don’t know how hard the dirt is.” Farra’s father and uncle had formed Snook Bros. Construction in 1936 and fashioned it into a 100employee, statewide builder of spans. For almost two decades, Snook Bros. rolled along impressively until that fire and flood set in motion forces that would reshape the entire operation. The conflagration was a mishap in the Tenmile area that saw a bridge’s under-construction diesel-coated plywood forms end up ablaze, ruining the not-yet-set concrete that had been poured around them. Not long after, a flash flood knocked loose a culvert and smashed it

Andy Cripe

4S Sign installs a sign at Natural Grocers in Corvallis on Feb. 19.

into another bridge the Snooks were working on, near Cascade Locks, necessitating that one be reconstructed as well. At that time, Farra said, only one insurer covered bridge builders: Lloyd’s of London. The carrier had good news and bad news for Snook Bros.The good news was, it would cover the cost of redoing the fire- and flooddestroyed spans.The bad news was, it would do so at the original bid price (materials costs, meanwhile, had gone up considerably), and furthermore, Snook Bros.’ policy was terminated. “You’re jinxed,” Farra

FORESS SIGN Year founded: 1958 What it does: Highway and commercial sign construction, installation and service Number of employees: 18 Keys to longevity: Quality workmanship, high ethics, and “watching the garbage cans.” Paying attention to whether the mid-valley’s trash bins are overflowing or empty is a quick economic indicator the company has used to predict staffing needs and revenue

said his dad and uncle were told when they learned of Lloyd’s decision, which had the effect of driving them out of the bridge-building game since they could-

n’t do the work without being insured. That closed the book on Snook Bros. Construction. The brothers caught a break, though, with the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956, the legislation that created the nation’s system of freeways. They learned they could build “sign bridges” — structures that straddled the freeways and held the various signage motorists needed for navigation — without having insurance, and set about making them in a shop at Camp Adair that once been a tank repair shed for the Army. Foress Sign Co. — the four S’s were Paul Snook

and wife Ida, and Louis Snook and wife Eve — was incorporated in 1958. Four years later, while continuing to manufacture and install highway signs and sign structures, it expanded into the commercial sign industry, manufacturing and installing signs for retail operations. (Later still, Louis Snook founded Albany company Discovery Plastics.) Among Foress’ customers are the Rio Theatre in Sweet Home, Jordan Jewelers, the Pix Theatre, Riley’s Billiards and the Mennonite Village in Albany, and Coffee Culture, Highland Bowl, McMenamin’s and Jamie’s Great Hamburgers in Corvallis.

As the new millennium arrived, the company restructured and changed its name to the current Foress Sign & Manufacturing, and also created 4S Sign.The primary firm focuses on commercial sign sales and service, while the sub-company handles the highway sign part of the market. Foress is headquartered on the north side of Highway 34 in Linn County, just east of Corvallis. Farra describes himself as retired now, and says his wife, Kim, and their son-in-law, Buck Johnson, run the company, leading a staff of about 18 people. It’s a skilled work force, with the technical crew made up of college graduates and licensed electricians. Most of Foress’ jobs are big-ticket projects, ranging from $5,000 to more than $1 million. Aside from quality workmanship and high ethics, Farra points to one other key to Foress’ long run of success: He keeps his eye on the mid-valley’s garbage cans. If they’re overflowing on trash day, people are spending and times are good; if they’re empty, not so much. That’s a quick indicator for determining future revenues and staffing needs, and it’s helped keep Foress poised as a beacon in the sign business that figures to shine for years to come.


Is small the next big thing? Corvallis Microtechnology repackages its broad-spectrum software into single-purpose apps BY BENNETT HALL Corvallis Microtechnology has scaled back considerably from its early days as a leader in the rugged handheld computer market, but owner David Lin believes his firm is poised for a comeback. Lin co-founded the company in 1984 after leaving Hewlett-Packard.The venture had great success initially as a developer of rugged handheld computers for land surveying, forestry, farming and other outdoor uses. The CMT MC5, which debuted in 1987, was a big seller, generating millions in profits, according to Lin. “The first PC in your hand — that’s what I did,” Lin says today. Since then, however, other companies have moved into the same space, gobbling up market share.And while Corvallis Microtechnology still gets a steady stream of orders for the workhorse MC5, the sales volume is a far cry from what it used to be. But about three years ago, inspiration struck:Why not mine the rich vein of proprietary software that built such a loyal customer base for the MC5 and repackage it for the exploding mobile device market? The result is a new line of



CORVALLIS MICROTECHNOLOGY YEAR FOUNDED: 1984 WHAT IT DOES: Early developer of rugged handheld computers and GPS receivers for field use; these days, the company specializes in niche apps for outdoor use in fields such as forestry, surveying, data collection, farming and real estate THREE KEYS TO LONGEVITY: • Do good work: Deliver a highquality product and stand behind it • Take care of the customer: If someone’s dissatisfied, don’t argue, just make it right • Stay humble: When times are good, don’t waste your money on fancy offices or other frills; save something for leaner days

Earth image. Others can quickly calculate the area of odd-shaped properties, lay out a grid for taking soil samples or break up a timber sale into smaller plots. Each app sells for just $9.99. Amanda Cowan More complicated applicaCorvallis Microtechnology founder David Lin was a pioneer in the handheld computtions carry bigger price tags, ing field when it started in 1984 and is repurposing some of his proprietary software from $44.99 to $94.99, but for today’s app market. Lin’s betting those price niche apps for tablets, smartpoints are still low enough to phones and other devices appeal to the new generation that the company is selling of mobile device users.And through iTunes. Each one while the margins are low, taps into a small segment of the online sales platform has the CMT software library to the potential to deliver high perform a single, simple task. volume with low costs per sale. Lin thinks of it as a toolbox approach. “It’s very difficult to be a “If you have a nail, you comeback kid in the highneed a hammer — not a tech industry — Steve Jobs is whole set of power tools,” he the only one,” Lin acknowlsaid. edged. To date, the company has But after years of retrenchrolled out 14 apps for mobile ing, he thinks his new smalldevices, and more are in the is-better approach could pay works. Over the next several big dividends. months, CMT plans to intro“I think it will bring new duce programs for wetland Corvallis Microtechnology is still selling its flagship strength to the company,” Lin delineation, landscape planhandheld computer, the MC5GT, almost 30 years after said. ning and calculating soil vol- it was introduced. umes along contour lines. “We scale back and scale back and scale back, but now Deed Calls, which translates into a visual representation The biggest seller so far is I think we turn it around.” property title information superimposed on a Google a real estate app known as




Walking forward Sedlak’s strives for quality and customer service started by German immigrant in 1944 BY MARIA L. KIRKPATRICK Seventy years ago, German immigrant Alfred Sedlak opened Sedlak’s in downtown Corvallis. Sedlak was a shoemaker who was recruited for his craft to serve the military. He was posted at Camp Adair and used local convicts to help him make sturdy shoes for servicemen. On Feb. 14, 1944, after the war in Europe ended and Sedlak no longer had enlisted customers, he hung his shingle downtown.At the time, his was one of 11 area repair shops.Today, those other shops are gone, but Sedlak’s endures. For more than 40 years, Sedlak built his business on quality and reputation. In 1987, a Bay Area sandal maker stuck his head in the door and asked if Sedlak would be interested in adding sandals to his inventory. Paul Mumford moved to Corvallis and was looking for a place to display his handcrafted sandals. Sedlak said “no,” but had a counteroffer: He asked if Mumford would buy the business.After looking over the books, Mumford agreed and has owned the store ever since. Over the years, Mumford has seen footwear of nearly every kind.The industry has changed and Mumford has seen to it that his business followed. Sedlak’s Boots &

Amanda Cowan

A selection of shoes and boots on display at Sedlak’s.

SEDLAK’S Year founded: 1944 What it does: The business sells and repairs shoes and boots. Number of employees: Five Three keys to longevity: • Do and produce. “If you have a (customer) in front of you, do something for them,” said Paul Mumford, owner and president of Sedlak’s Boots & Shoes in Corvallis. “You produce somebody that’s happy.” • Deliver what you promise. “If you promise something, make sure you deliver,” Mumford said. “People get irritated if you don’t.” • Do what you have to to make customers happy. “Engage with customers,” he said. “Provide a good experience.” Website:

Amanda Cowan

Sedlak’s Boots & Shoes in downtown Corvallis is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year.

mid-valley to bring in their shoes. Mumford said that if he can’t fix it for a reasonable price, it’s probably not worth fixing. However, for some people, that favorite Shoes no longer makes shoes pers and slides from Red pair of cowboy boots are but has transitioned to sales Wing,Wolverine and Earth worth repairing no matter and repairs of quality prodshoes are just a few of the what the cost. He does his uct. brands that offer the quality best and provides the best service possible. “Now I leave it to the sales Mumford wants to provide. staff and cobbler,” Mumford People will always shop for Goods are what the store said. price, he said. So he stocks sells. But, Mumford said, product actually is what walks out He does specialty work on his shelves with durable, quality, mid-priced shoes. the door. He elaborated: shoes for problematic feet. Customers come to him for “Product actually is someRepairs are about 20 perprescription shoes. one who is happy with the cent of the business. Most Mumford knows his cusweeks the store takes in 125 service and goods,” he extomers and keeps in stock pairs of shoes to repair. Peo- plains. what they prefer. Boots, slip- ple drive from all over the At Sedlak’s, the customer

experience is the reason why the store is still standing. “You do what you have to to have a happy customer,” Mumford said.“You engage the customer and provide a good experience.” It’s not always easy. Mumford realizes that people walking in off the street bring with them their last bad experience from another store. He and his staff want to help customers distinguish this store from the last. “We establish a rapport,” he said,“and provide a pretty friendly, inviting environment.”




Squirrel’s has weathered ups and downs BY JAMES DAY Greg Little has been working at Squirrel’s Tavern for so long that he knows the entire history of the building. He can rattle off that it is the second oldest two-story brick structure in Corvallis (he doesn’t know which is first). Previous owners have included the Corvallis Gazette (before it merged with the Greg Little Times), Owner Berman’s grocery store, the Corvallis State Bank (the tavern’s kitchen and walk-in cooler occupy the old bank vaults), a Chinese restaurant and TransAmerican Title. It was vacant for three years before Little, a 1973 business graduate of Oregon State University, took control.And he’s still in control, kind of. Dressed in a Betty Boop T-shirt and sporting his trademark bandanna, Little, 62, could easily pass for a loyal customer of his own joint. Squirrel’s, at 100 S.W. Second St., is funky, with heavy, dark wood, weird stuff on the walls and hanging from the ceiling and a vibe that says ... Corvallis. “There is a lot of

SQUIRREL’S TAVERN Year founded: 1974 What it does: Bar and restaurant Number of employees: 15 How it got its name: Squirrel was the high school football nickname of owner Greg Little, who received the moniker for his sideline chattering. 3 keys to longevity: community involvement, balance between food and alcohol, keeping up with the times

ways tried to be community oriented.” Economically, Squirrel’s has had its ups and downs.The loss of timber industry jobs hit hard, as did the recesAmanda Cowan sion that followed the Customers enjoy lunch and a drink at Squirrel’s Tavern on Feb. 14. housing crunch. “In 2008, 2009 and shared camaraderie,” attraction when Little were into more individ- have been forestry 2010 we handled it said Little from a bench opened, with just a mi- ual tastes and flavors. It workers, construction pretty well, but in 2011 seat near the front door, crowave and cold sand- was one or two craft guys and other seasonal it bottomed out,” Little which gave him a perwiches to slake beer beers instead of a workers, plus university said.“It was a little scary. fect angle to greet — drinkers’ hunger. pitcher of Schlitz.” staff and graduate stuI had to borrow some and be greeted by — dents. Offerings were limited Little expanded to a money. 2012 and ’13 regulars. “People used to call it have been very strong. but plentiful. Once a full kitchen in 1986, “This wasn’t just a week a Schlitz truck the ‘downtown learning We have made back with an emphasis on business that I owned would drop off 25 kegs burgers and chicken center,’“Little said.“You what we lost in ’11.” and ran. It was someand pick up 25 empties. sandwiches. could get as much inforLittle gives a lot of thing that they took mation here as a class.” credit to new ventures Little offered Schlitz, “Food has become a ownership in. Schlitz malt liquor, a very strong base for us,” For decades Squirrel’s in town, including Flat “It’s been good, a dark Schlitz and Old Tail, Sky High and Block he said.“We offer a participated in Parks good run.We’re feeling Milwaukee. good food product, with and Recreation Depart- 15. really healthy right now, In 1983 Little brought specials every night.The ment summer sports “The craft beer guys which is really nice. It food has brought a bal- programs, particularly in his first craft beers, are expanding and supfeels like it’s got a nice ance to the alcohol con- softball. Red Hook and Sierra plying a lot of new encomplement of day and Nevada. sumption.” ergy,” Little said.“People “Most of the players evening, young and old. are out and about with “In the 1980s, the Squirrel’s clientele has were from the bar,” Litstrong expendable in“But the older ones palates kind of remained about 20 per- tle said.“It gave us a come.” are going home earlier changed,” said Little, cent OSU students base for summer bethan they used to.” who now has 16 craft But they are still comthrough the years, Little cause you lost the stusaid. Filling in the gaps Alcohol was the main beers on tap.“People dent population.We al- ing to Squirrel’s.

Pride Printing celebrating 50th anniversary BY STEVE LATHROP Every morning, Jerry Thorn arrives early to open the doors at Pride Printing in downtown Albany. He makes sure he turns on the heat and gets the coffee started. It’s a longstanding routine for the 82-year-old Thorn, who still puts in a full day at the print shop, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. “I was in this business long before that,”Thorn said.“I started printing in the Navy in the early 1950s.” After the service, he apprenticed with McKnight & Co. on Elm Street until he and two other McKnight staffers — John Lang and Ralph Schwab — bought the bulk of the shop’s Jerry Thorn equipment Owner when McKnight closed shop. Schwab handled sales and Lang and Thorn worked the presses when the doors opened for the newly named Pride Printing in 1964. It opened as a union shop, which it remains today. Pride started out in the old Albany State Bank building at the foot of the Ellsworth Street Bridge before moving up the street in 1969 to its current location at 406 First Ave.W., in the old St. Francis Hotel. “We just had the middle section of the ground floor at first,”Thorn said. By the early 1970s, Pride

PRIDE PRINTING Year founded: 1964. What it does: Commercial offset/digital printing company of quality full color large or small jobs up to a sheet size of 19.5 feet by 25.5 inches Number of employees: 9. Keys to longevity: Manager Scott Thorn says, “I truly believe that taking care of your customers has always been priority one and taking care of your staff is important too. We also have kept up with technology and as my dad says, work hard and you can be successful.”

purchased the building for $52,000 and expanded to include the entire ground level. It remains a unique facility, with twists, turns and plenty of nooks and crannies holding pallets of paper, ink and other supplies. To make it all work in the early days, the owners put in long hours.Thorn’s son, Scott, who is now Pride’s manager, said he remembers his dad would come home, grab dinner and then head back out the door to work some more. “It was a tough road,” Jerry Thorn said.“There were no eight-hour days.” By 1995,Thorn was on his own, after Schwab and Lang retired. He expanded further in 1993, buying out Cub Albany Printing. The company strives to keep pace in a changing business. Moving into the digital age has meant adapting and adding equipment. “It’s changed dramatically,” said Scott Thorn, who has worked at Pride for 36 years. “So much is being transferred from offset to the digital

Mark Ylen

Richard Swaggerty operates one of the presses in the Albany print shop.

Mark Ylen

Pride Printing is housed in the bottom floor of the old St. Francis Hotel at First Avenue and Ferry Street.

Mark Ylen

Deborah Beier and Jim Van Schoiack run the Xerox copy machine that they often use instead of running the presses.

copy machines.” Pride employs nine. Employee numbers have fluctuated over the years, and have been as high as 19. In addition to Scott, Jerry Thorn’s daughter,Vickie, also works in the office. Pride has five presses, including large-format full-color presses and smaller offset equipment.The Xerox 525 is taking much of the load these days.And a new label press is state-of-the-art, producing full-color labels and intricate die-cutting on one machine.

Scott said new copiers reduce paper waste and eliminate processing film or making plates.That doesn’t mean the offset presses aren’t useful. “Copiers are all about volume,” Scott said.“We saw the writing on the wall early and got a good start, but a lot still runs offset.” Keeping up with the technology is important in the digital age. Prepress is strictly computerized, although Pride still displays images handmade by designers during the early days. Pride hasn’t had to replace

presses.Thorn said they were built to last, and with proper care they do the job just as well as ever. “It was a lot more physically intense in the old days. I wouldn’t want to go back,” said Thorn, whose family came to Albany from Nebraska in 1936. Pride just had its website rebuilt and is taking orders online.The site can be reached at www.prideprint “My dad always told me anybody can be a success if you just work hard,”Thorn said.“For my education, printing was a good move. I’m here every day if they need me. Just in case they have some questions.”




It’s still full-steam ahead for Hull-Oakes Lumber company balances history, competitiveness in custom timber market BY ANTHONY RIMEL With one foot in the past and one in the future, Hull-Oakes Lumber Co. took a big step last year. A timber-milling outfit famous for having one of the last steam-powered sawmills in the United States, HullOakes converted the last of its daily operations to electric power in July 2013. “It was a very difficult decision,” said Todd Nystrom, grandson of the mill’s founder, Ralph Hull, and the owner and president of the company. However, Nystrom said the decision was necessary for the business, which employs around 65 people, to continue in the long term. “If (steam power) was the most efficient way to make lumber everybody would be doing it,” he said. The mill, which was founded in 1937 and has a steam engine dating back to 1906, is on the National Registry of Historic Sites. Its milling operations have not been computerized even through the changes. Nystrom added that the mill, located north of Monroe, still has all of its steam machinery in place and operates with steam power a few times a year to make sure the equipment is in good condition. But, he said, it was expensive to operate on a daily basis with machinery for which parts are no longer made. “We had to make a choice between being a museum and a sawmill,” he said.“We’re really trying to be both.” The mill gave tours to more than 1,500 people last year, from 42 states and 13 countries. Nystrom said the company only modernizes the mill when it’s essential to remain profitable. “My granddad had a philosophy,‘If it ain’t broke don’t fix it,’” he said. Nystrom said the mill’s competitiveness is centered on the fact that it specializes in cutting timbers other mills can’t, particularly long and large pieces.

Amanda Cowan

Garrett Cook, right, and Shayne Moore, background center, of Hull-Oakes Lumber Co. in Monroe pull lumber off a planer chain in a photo taken in July 2013.

HULL-OAKES LUMBER CO. Year founded: 1937 What it does: A sawmill that specializes in large and long timbers Number of employees: 65 Keys to longevity: • Still owned and operated by the family of founder Ralph Hull • The company has avoided taking on debt to finance growth • It specializes in a niche market for timber, small and custom orders

Christopher Engle puts paper wrapping on a lumber order to accommodate a customer’s request.

Don Wagner, a retired forester who gives tours, said the mill fills orders for things like railroad trestles and timber used in restoring historic ships.The company even has sent lumber to a bridge project in Nova Scotia. “We’re unique.We’re not selling stuff to build houses,” said Nystrom. Nystrom and Wagner both emphasized that the mill does not buy any old-growth timber, but instead mills large second-growth trees. Wagner said the fact that the mill hasn’t computerized is actually what enables it to cut pieces for the custom orders the mill fulfills. “Most mills are com-

puterized.They make four items … we have so many variables there is no way a computer could do it,” he said. He gave an example of pieces of wood that are the right size, length and quality to be made into solid fir rain gutters, which Hull-Oakes ships to a company on the East Coast that manufactures the gutters. “It takes someone with a trained eye to see (pieces of that quality),” he said. Wagner said Nystrom and his family treat HullOakes employees well, so the mill has many long-term, multigenerational employees.Wagner himself started at

Amanda Cowan

Brad Weaver of Hull-Oakes Lumber Co. sharpens a main band saw.

the mill in 1963, and spent most of his career there. He said the knowledge and experience is particularly important at Hull-Oakes because so much of the mill’s equipment is unique.

“The equipment isn’t worth anything. It’s worth five cents a pound … the value is in the employees,” he said. Nystrom said he likes the challenge of running the company, and is hopeful the mill will

continue into the future under his son Nathan Nystrom, who is a forester and log buyer for the company. “We like what we do,” he said.“We think we’ve got a good thing going here.”

Experts say there is no secret to having successful business Not being afraid to try something new. Not just being stuck in the old ways.” don’t live in a vacuum.” Instead, they’re reading busiShelly Garrett, the execuness news.They’re talking to tive director of the Lebanon friends and customers, conArea Chamber of Commerce, stantly keeping an eye out for said businesspeople consisthe latest business trends. tently need to ask these vital Added Dwyer:“They’re tak- questions:“What makes us ing lessons learned from the stand out from our competition? What do we do better? day before and applying them to the next day.They’re Garrett said that the No. 1 not afraid to try something thing she notices in successnew.They’re not just stuck in ful businesses is that they the old ways.” work hard to ensure a satisfying experience for cusTaking “lessons learned tomers. from the day before and applying them to the next day. “Customer experience is Continued from Page 1

the No. 1 most important thing you can do,” Garrett said — and, she warned, customers are quick to notice if an employee simply doesn’t care.“As a customer I really respect that that employee cared more about my needs than their own self-serving agenda.” Many long-running businesses are family businesses, and they come with their own sets of challenges, said Sherri Noxel, director of the Austin Family Business Program in the Oregon State University College of

Business. Noxel said successful family businesses stay focused on the basics, including the importance of family unity:“It starts with this idea of family unity.They want to work through the tough times together.” They also pay careful attention to the younger generation, Noxel said, especially with research showing that children often are forming strong impressions of the family business by the time they turn 16.“Is it stressful? Risky? Fun? Challenging? …

You really want to get the kids involved to see how fun it is.” But successful family businesses also know when it’s time to bring in some outside assistance, Noxel said.“They will bring in good outside experts,” she said. To all those ingredients, add these: Sheer hard work, mixed with a dose of love. Said Dwyer:“Every day, it’s coming into your business and saying,‘What do we have to do to make the business better?’ … You’ve got to love what you’re doing.”

Focus 2014: Still Going Strong  

Profiling local businesses and their formula for longevity

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