March 2017 VOICE Magazine

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M AR CH 2017



Page 12

A&R Aviation Services Page 16








help wanted!

A&R Aviation Services is finding success hiring veterans with the help of Camo2Commerce (p.12).

Harlequin Productions



Award-Winning Knee, Hip & Spine Surgery

Capital Medical Center is partly owned by some of the physicians who serve our patients.

©2017 BCI



Every month, the Thurston County Chamber offers several networking events, forums & workshops to the community. Here are some highlights you won't want to miss.

In this issue...

6 Caught in the Lens Photos from Chamber events.

Mar. 2

YPN at The Governors Cellar


The Thurston Chamber Young Professionals Network (YPN) is a great

Advocacy Update

place to interact with younger business professionals in a low-pressure environment. Join us at for after hours Mar. 2 at 5:30 p.m. at The Governors Cellar, 621 Capitol Way South, Olympia.

Mar. 7

Morning Mixxer at RE/MAX Parkside JJoin us at RE/MAX Parkside on Tuesday, Mar. 7 at 7:30 a.m. for Morning Mixxer. Enjoy plenty of coffee, breakfast treats and great conversation. Where? 300 Deschutes Way SW #200, Olympia.

Marcch. h 8

12 A&R Aviation Services What started out in Ronnie Hix's garage now

Forum: Best of South Sound!

employs 30 people.

Reserve your seats early! The Best of South Sound Awards Ceremony at the Chamber's March Forum sells out every


year, so this year we're holding it at Saint Martin's Marcus

The Business of Art

Pavilion. Tickets available at .

Ma Ma ar. r. 8

What does craft brewing, gophers and Interstate-5 have in common? Find the answer on page 8!

Speed Networking! Speed Networking takes traditional face-to-face networking

For the third article in The Business of Art series, we speak with Scot Whitney of Harlequin Productions.

and combines it with smart-matching software that enables participants to pre-select the types of people they are interested in meeting using customized matching

Mar. 16

BAH at Rapid Orthopaedic Center JJoin us at Olympia Orthopaedics Rapid Orthopaedic Center in Lacey on Thurs., March 16 at 5:30 p.m. for Business After Hours. Enjoy appetizers, drinks and great company while learning more about an incredible organization. BAH is free to attend.

For more event information, please visit

23 Workforce Development Update

parameters. 6-8 rounds for $50 = A Bargain!

On Feb. 15, regional partners discussed implementation of a new approach for service delivery for businesses and job seekers.

Thurston County Chamber VOICE  March 2017 3

Now Hiring! Seeking Work-Ready Talent By Sytease Geib, Thurston County Chamber Vice President |Workforce Development



Natasha Ashenhurst

Businesses are hiring! That’s great news.

Rebekah Finn

However, as a community, we need to help

PUBLISHER Thurston County Chamber of Commerce

EDITORIAL Editor: David Schaffert Phone: (360) 357-3362 Email:

Sytease Geib

n this issue of the VOICE, a theme emerged in our interview with A&R

Programs and initiatives exist in both education

Aviation Services. This company has

and the public workforce system to support

vacancies they need to fill, but they are

work-based learning opportunities to gain real

faced with a singular challenge—many

world work experience before they leave the

applicants seeking work at A&R do not

possess the soft skills employers need.

need industry as partners in these initiatives in order for them to grow and succeed. The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act

develop a work-ready workforce.

Greg Raines

education/training environment. However, we

legislation that passed in 2014 is designed to


We have a strong K-12 education system, and

help job seekers access employment, education

Sales and Marketing: Marny Bright, Beth

excellent two and four-year college programs

and training to succeed in the labor market and

Phone: (360) 357-3362

aligned with industry needs. We make strides

to match employers with the skilled workers


daily to align short-term training certifications

they need to compete in the global economy.

with industry to create pipelines of talent. There

The legislation identifies business as a primary

is no doubt our training providers are doing

customer and partner of the workforce system,

great things to develop technical skills. However,

and places emphasis on engaging industry to

Johnson or Blake Knoblauch

SUBSCRIPTIONS Phone: (360) 357-3362 Email:

the irony in all of this is we spend on average

create workforce solutions. Integrating work-


the first 13 years of our lives in a classroom

based learning earlier and frequently in the

Mosaic Marketing Studio

K-12 setting learning the fundamentals, another

training process is a key critical factor to stop

2-6 years in college training for a specific

the cycle of the soft skills gap.

COVER PHOTOGRAPHY Inside the shop at A&R Aviation Services.

career pathway and once those diplomas and

Photo by Greg Raines of Liondenpro

credentials are earned we are off into the world

The Chamber serves as our workforce council’s


of work—a world that up until now few have

business services provider. We provide industry

spent significant time exploring.

with the opportunity to train and mentor our


current and future workforce in essential

Print NW

Soft skills or lack thereof is typically the most

skills necessary for long-term success at no


common challenge for businesses looking to

cost to the employer. To learn more about

PO Box 1427

hire, however, the practical application of soft

these opportunities, contact the Chamber at

809 Legion Way SE

skills cannot happen within the confines of a


Olympia, WA 98507 Phone: (360) 357-3362


Email: Website:



All material appearing in the VOICE

information is correct at time of

Anchor Bank Capital Medical Center Heritage Bank Phillips Burgess Washington Port of Olympia Xerox Services

printing, but the publisher accepts no


responsibility or liability for the accuracy

America's Credit Union - Lacey Lucky Eagle Casino & Hotel Mills & Mills Funeral Home & Memorial Park

Magazine is copyright unless otherwise stated or it may rest with the provider of the supplied material. The VOICE Magazine takes all care to ensure

of any information contained in the text or advertisements.

4 • March 2017 Thurston County Chamber VOICE

Morningside Olympia Federal Savings Olympia Orthopaedic Associates Print NW Providence St. Peters Saint Martin's University TwinStar Credit Union Washington Business Bank

GOLD INVESTORS First Citizens Bank Cabinets by Trivonna Columbia Bank The Creative Office GHB Insurance Great Wolf Lodge Hometown Property Management

Jessica Jensen Law PS Nicholson & Associates Nisqually Red Wind Casino Olympia Furniture Company Pardiman Productions Puget Sound Energy RHD Enterprises Hotel RL Olympia Saint Martin’s University SCJ Alliance TAGS Wells Fargo-


“How can we help you?” Local People, Local Decisions for Flexible Loan Solutions or to Grow Your Business. Plus, Everyday Banking g. and Mobile Banking.

Matt DeBord M D B d

Erik Heimann

Matt Hargrave

NMLS# 539571

NMLS# 1218316

Diana D iana G Grantham ranth ham

Paull Long P L


It’s EAaRsTy



Caught in the Lens...

6 • March 2017 Thurston County Chamber VOICE

A collection of photos taken at Chamber events during February 2017

Photos from: Ribbon cutting at Niko Teriyaki, YPN at Don Juan's Mexican Kitchen, Morning Mixxer at Greene Realty, February Forum, Education Summit & EXPO, Ribbon Cutting at Pacific Medical Center, Ribbon Cutting at Tranquility Dental Wellness Center, Thurston Chamber Member Orientation and Leadership Thurston County Distinguished Leader Awards.

Thurston County Chamber VOICE  March 2017 7


What do these things have in common? They are some of the issues and items that the Public Policy Division is actively working on for the benefit of Chamber members and the community.

One of the Thurston County Chamber’s primary missions is advocacy, which can take many forms—providing beneficial services and products to Chamber members; supporting nonprofit, education and government organizations; and, of course, lobbying government bodies on issues impacting business and community. Here are a few of the issues we are actively engaged in this month:

gophers, I-5 & craft brewing

investments and partnerships that support a rapidly growing industry with strong roots in the history of our community. The Public Policy Division is dedicated to growing a prosperous economy and vibrant community by connecting people, ideas,

Gopher: We’re supporting common and consistent rules for

and resources. Public policy is determined by those that

Habitat Conservation Plans and other land use regulations.

participate and share their experiences, ideas, and insights

We encourage the cities and county to share information

as decisions are made. The Chamber encourages members to

to make the process more predictable for affected property

be active and to let our voices be heard at city hall, the county


courthouse, and the state capitol.

Interstate-5: We’re advocating for efforts that start planning for future state and local investments in I-5 between

Are you interested in learning more about having a voice in the

Mounts Road to 93rd Avenue so that the movement of

public process or perhaps running for elected office? Please

products and people aren’t choked in Thurston County.

contact Doug Mah at for more

Craft brewing: We're calling for public and private


8 • March 2017 Thurston County Chamber VOICE

Thurston Green celebrates business sustainability, apply today!

Thurston Green Business designation applications are open Jan. 1 - Mar. 15. Apply online at


aving water, conserving energy, reducing waste and buying or selling green are all sustainable steps that improve the health of our community and environment. Businesses who take these steps to lower their environmental footprint find that

they save money while protecting and preserving resources. In Thurston County, businesses who take one or all of these stewardship steps receive recognition for their efforts when they become a Thurston Green Business. It’s easy and FREE to join. Applications accepted through Mar. 15, 2017.

Apply today! It's free! Visit

Thurston County Chamber VOICE  March 2017 9

Fifth-Annual Best of South Sound Awards Celebration Set for March



he Thurston County Chamber and The Olympian are pleased to co-host the fifth-annual awards ceremony for Best of South Sound category winners. The awards ceremony will take place at the Chamber’s Forum March 8. We expect a fullhouse, so advance registration is encouraged.

For the past decade the Olympian has recognized Thurston County businesses with the coveted Best of South Sound award. Readers vote online for their favorite business in over 80 categories, including favorites such as Best Bank, Best Real Estate Agent, Best Dentist and of course, Best Buffet. The Thurston County Chamber Forum meets on the second Wednesday of the month, from 11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m. at Saint Martin’s University Marcus Pavilion. Forum includes lunch and the cost is $35 for general admission,

Controlled Rain, LLC won 2015 Best of South Sound - Best Landscaper.

$25 for prepaid Chamber members, and $30 for members at the door. Finalists are able to register for $25 online through March 2. Reservations are strongly advised. Immediately following the Best of South Sound Awards Ceremony, the Thurston County Chamber will host a brand-new event—Speed Networking—allowing business professionals to meet fellow professionals in a structured process and uncover synergies that can lead to increased business opportunities.

“Rick quickly understands issues and complexity, has a very clear mind, and provides helpful advice and soluƟons. Rick usually sees the problem two or three steps ahead and his advice is, therefore, comprehensive. He has my unreserved recommendaƟon” Michael MaƩhias, City Manager, Des Moines, WA

“We live in a busy world where not everyone has time for traditional networking. Speed Networking uses technology to pre-match participants with each other. We’re anticipating a lot of interest in this event and hope to offer it several times a year,” said David Schaffert, Chamber President/CEO. Speed Networking takes the traditional values of face-to-face business networking and combines it with smart-matching software enabling participants to pre-select the types of people

Advancing his clients’ legal interests since 1987 Employment law Contracts Real estate Government

they are interested in meeting using customized matching parameters. Each participant receives a customized schedule of meetings based on their interests.

Call (360) 464-6533

For more information about attending or sponsoring the event, visit

324 West Bay Dr. NW, Ste. 201, Olympia

Thurston County Chamber VOICE  March 2017 11

A & R Av i at i o n S e r v i c e s


stablished in 2008, A&R Aviation Services has experienced continuous growth. What started out in Ronnie Hix's garage now employs 30 people. A&R's commitment to reliability has built a reputation that brought on board clients like Alaska Airlines and Delta and customers as far away as Asia, Europe and South America. By

Natasha Ashenhurst Greg Raines

Photographs by

12 • March 2017 Thurston County Chamber VOICE

Ronnie Hix, left and Matthew Cook, right, examine a new project. Matthew Cook is a veteran, hired by A&R Aviation through the Camo2Commerce program.


hen Ronnie Hix was in high school, he and a buddy took a few flight lessons and quickly developed a passion for airplanes. He discovered that he not only enjoyed flying but had an interest in working on airplanes. After high school, he enlisted in the Navy to work on military aircraft and spent four years traveling the world and saw action in Operation Desert Storm / Desert Shield.

When he left the Navy, he started working at Aero Controls, Inc. in Auburn, a company specializing in aviation repair work. While he learned the aviation business on the job he simultaneously earned his Bachelor’s degree at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Once he completed his degree, he started working his way up the ladder, starting as a technician, then shop manager, customer service, sales and marketing and finally in business development. “When I went as high as I could at Aero Controls I became bored. I needed more fulfilling and challenging work, so in 2008 I opened A&R Aviation Services with my business partner, Adam Witcraft,” said Hix. They started the business out of Hix’s garage. “We lived on a one lane dirt road and we were repairing parts for Boeing classic 727s and 737s. Semi-trucks would try and haul the parts down our road. It was challenging. Our front yard and driveway were full of airplane parts and I was using my dad’s John Deer tractor as a forklift. Finally, my wife told me to find a different place to run the business,” Hix said with a laugh. That first year in business, A&R billed close to $1 million in sales. They went from two people to five. “We were looking for aviation minded people to lease a space

from, so we talked to the Port of Olympia and Jeff Powell of Prime Development. The Port owns the land and Prime builds the hangars. So, we started in hangar M5,” he said. A&R kept growing and kept having to move to a larger and larger hangar. Finally, they worked with Powell to build a new space that should contain the company for a while. Hix credits the sustained growth of A&R to their commitment to reliability, outstanding service and the highest quality work in the industry. A&R Aviation is a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) certified shop providing repair and overhaul services to aviation partners, including Boeing, Airbus, Douglas and military aircraft. While the company began repairing primarily classic airframes for a few customers, now they have moved into working with several brokers and domestic airlines, including Alaska Airlines and Atlas Air, airlines that operate the newer generation of Boeing aircraft. They serve customers throughout North America as well as customers in Asia, Europe and South America. A&R employs 30 people across the organization, including customer service, sales and marketing, business development, aviation technicians, shipping and receiving and logistic Continued on page 15 Thurston County Chamber VOICE  March 2017 13

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14 • March 2017 Thurston County Chamber VOICE

Continued from page 13

A&R Aviation occupies a hangar leased from Jeff Powell of Prime Development on land owned by The Port of Olympia. Aircraft parts are labeled and await repair. A&R Aviation is a FAA & EASA certified shop providing repair and overhaul services to aviation partners.

positions. To date, Hix said his biggest challenge in running an aviation-repair company is finding the right people to join his team. “Hiring good, quality people is hard. Many are missing the soft skills they need to be successful. A turning point for me was when my CFO, Sarah Shaw, partnered up with Sytease Geib, [Vice President of Workforce Development at the Thurston County Chamber] and Camo2Commerce. To date, we’ve interviewed and hired several individuals that have chosen to exit the military. It has become one of our go-to sources for hiring employees. These folks have the discipline and the initiative our employees need to be successful,” he said. Another hiring challenge Hix continuously faces is finding people who can pass the FAA required drug

tests. “Now that marijuana is legal in Washington State, a lot of people don’t realize that you can’t use it if you work at a federally inspected workplace. All new hires have to pass an initial drug screen, and then we run random drug tests which we have to report back to the FAA. This is another reason hiring veterans has been successful for us. They couldn’t use marijuana when they were enlisted so passing the drug tests is not a barrier,” he explained. When A&R hires a new employee, that person goes through a comprehensive training and mentoring program mandated by the FAA. “Our training manager works with new employees oneon-one. It is an excellent program and folks do not need an aviation background to be successful here. We find that people with a background in auto body repair or technicians easily transfer those skills to working with aircraft parts,” he said.

Hix wishes that more students would consider a career in the trades. He explains, “As parents, we want our kids to become a doctor or lawyer, but what society needs are plumbers, mechanics and electricians. And not only is the work rewarding, but it is financially rewarding too. “I knew one day that I would be an entrepreneur. Now that I’ve had the opportunity to be in these shoes, I know how tough it is to run a business. It is non-stop, 24/7 work. We have to stay ahead of the changes in technology. We have to find new and faster ways to do the different aspects of our job. We have to decrease expenses and increase profitability. I’ve learned more in the nine years I’ve been in business than I ever learned in the classroom. Owning a business is my education, and I can’t imagine doing anything else.” ●

Thurston County Chamber VOICE  March 2017 15

Scot and Linda Whitney in front of the State Theater. Linda and Scot share the role of Artistic Director at Harlequin Productions. Photo credit: Tor Clausen.

Harlequin Productions &

The Business Of Art Written by Rebekah Finn


nyone who might be on the fence about the importance of live theater only needs to sit down with Scot Whitney for a few minutes to be convinced. His wildfire energy when describing the power of storytelling spreads to his listener’s heart and mind.

“There is a unique experience in [live] theater, where it’s completely different from watching a movie: you’re in the same room, breathing the same air, there’s an exchange of energy between audience and actors, and it is a safe place to experience much more dangerous territory than we normally have in our lives,” Whitney explains. What theater offers is a chance to witness first-hand how another person might feel and think and live, thereby getting audience members out of their usual bubble to understand a different perspective. According to Whitney, this gets to the purpose of art: to broaden minds. “I believe the ultimate gift of the theater is empathy.” And in a

16 • March 2017 Thurston County Chamber VOICE

"My Name is Rachel Corrie" was on stage at Harlequin Productions Jan./Feb., 2017. A native of Olympia, Rachel Corrie was a student at The Evergreen State College who traveled to the Gaza Strip in 2003. She was killed by an armored bulldozer while acting as a human shield in an attempt to stop the destruction of a house. Photo courtesy of Harlequin Productions. time when division abounds, and connection and compassion

finally told a friend what he had been thinking, his friend

are in high demand, why not seek out a dose of empathy in our

blurted out, “That’s perfect! I know it’s going to happen!” After

own backyard?

multiple people reacted the same way, it confirmed what the founders had begun to realize: it was time for Harlequin

History In 1991 Whitney set out with his wife, Linda, and three other people—James L. This, Phil Annis and Ronna Smith—to start producing plays that would simultaneously challenge and entertain Thurston County audiences. This group of five founders pooled their passion and their start-up capital (only $400!), and began producing plays on the black box stage of the Washington Center. “Our productions started out small; we had very limited resources, but we had a lot of energy, a lot of talent, and a lot of really great people to work with,” Whitney recalls. “We put up one show, and it did well. So we did another one, and another one, and another one and produced six small plays in that first season.” They decided to offer subscriptions, and quickly got a starter group of 85 patrons. “The next year we doubled that, the

Productions to buy and refurbish its own space. After gathering some sound advice and support from the community, in June of 1996, six years after first starting Harlequin Productions, Whitney announced on stage that they would be purchasing, gutting and remodeling the State Theater on the corner of 4th Avenue and Washington. “From that day, we had almost exactly 17 months to raise the money, buy it and gut it.” And raise the money, buy it and gut it they did, pulling together grants and donations to make it happen. “We revived a derelict building, and turned it into one of the best performance spaces in the state.” Whitney recognizes the challenge of keeping healthy activity alive and well in urban centers, and he is proud that Harlequin Productions is able to hold down a prominent corner of downtown Olympia.

next year we doubled that and it grew very rapidly.”


Within two years, it was evident that Harlequin Productions

In the twenty years since 1997, Harlequin Productions has

was outgrowing its rented space. Whitney started to

had years of fantastic ticket sales, and other years of operating

contemplate what seemed to him like a crazy idea. When he

in the red. What has enabled them to keep their doors open

Thurston County Chamber VOICE  March 2017 17


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through tough economic

house usher or ticket-

times? The support of

taker, or a behind-the-

community members

scenes production crew

through sponsorships and

member. The best way

donations. Looking ahead,

to contribute is to buy

Harlequin Productions is

a subscription for the

prioritizing a budget plan

entire season, which

that will move its income

comes with many perks

from 65-75% ticket sales

like discounts and first

to a more even 50%-50%

pick of seats. You could

split between earned and

also join the “Dr. Feel

unearned income.

Good” club and get the VIP treatment at every show you attend.

How can businesses contribute to this needed art form in our

Just like everything

community? Sponsor a

we do, the intersection

show or event, advertise in the program or make a donation. Nonprofit

Harlequin Productions not only stages contemporary plays, but plays by Shakespeare too. Here is a photo from The Two Gentlemen of Verona, on stage Sept./Oct., 2016. Photo courtesy of Harlequin Productions.

between art and business happens within the individual person. We can contribute to a

organizations may also be eligible to participate in the Community Partnership Program.

thriving Olympia arts community by being a patron of the arts,

How can individuals contribute? Attend a show! Plan a date

exploring something new and stretching our minds to connect

night, or grab some friends and get down to the box office. If

with other human beings. ●

you’re low on cash, Harlequin offers various discounts, and you could even catch a show for free by volunteering as a front-of-

Rebekah Finn is a freelance writer for the VOICE Magazine. You can reach Rebekah at

Thurston County Chamber VOICE  March 2017 19

20 • March 2017 Thurston County Chamber VOICE



pril is national “Math Awareness Month.” To celebrate and engage our

students and community around reallife math applications, the Thurston County Chamber Education Committee is promoting our 7th annual “Math for Life” event for students in Griffin, Olympia, North Thurston, and Tumwater school districts.

Last year we had nearly 700 students participate in this event! Math for Life’s goal is to promote real life math skills through a program that connects the business community and education. Go on a scavenger hunt to local businesses in our region and find out how they use math! Out of town for the week of spring break? You still have a chance to win, Math for Life runs from March 25 – April 9, 2017! Math for Life 2017’s map will be released on March 25th, 2017.

Thurston County Chamber VOICE  March 2017 21


On February 15, regional partners met to discuss implementation of a new approach to maximize the service delivery experience to businesses and job seekers. On left, Sytease Geib leads a discussion on creating building blocks to partnerships.

Building Blocks to Partnerships


By Sytease Geib n February 15, the Thurston Chamber Workforce Development team helped lead a regional workforce meeting on behalf of Pacific Mountain Workforce Development Council, and included partners in

education, workforce development and WorkSource. This group discussed implementation of a new approach to maximize the service delivery experience to businesses and job seekers. The Thurston County Chamber is the contracted entity for PacMtn’s Business Service initiatives throughout a five county region including Thurston, Mason, Lewis, Grays Harbor, and Pacific Counties. A large part of this role is to provide leadership and functional oversight of business service activity through the WorkSource system and create a collaborative approach to bring other partners within the region together to discuss big picture strategies, form integrated teams and reduce duplication of efforts. The concept of partnering with other organizations delivering similar or complimentary services to customers seems easy and the right thing to do, yet when implemented it becomes tricky. Providing the platform to share ideas, concerns and best practices with regional partners creates trust and inclusiveness which are foundational to building long lasting partnerships. The Chamber will host these regional business service team meetings every quarter. The format: latest updates on big picture projects/activities, re-cap of goals and progress and regional training topics based upon feedback and cross training opportunities shared by the regional team members. ●

Thurston County Chamber VOICE  March 2017 23

Questions call 923.4560

TwinStar Credit Union Corporate Center 4525 Intelco Loop SE Lacey, WA 98503

Tuesday, May 2, 2017 7:30 A.M.

Hit it off at our Morning Mixxer!

Commercial real estate loans Equipment/Vehicle loans Operating lines of credit Dividend earning business checking accounts Merchant Card Services Electronic check depositing Payroll services

Branches in Olympia, West Olympia, Tumwater, Lacey and Yelm.

Please visit

• • • • • • •

MVP Business Product Lineup:

PO BOX 1427 Olympia, WA 98507-1427

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