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601 SW Second Avenue Suite 950Portland, OR 97204
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Monday through Friday from 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM
Rob Thompson and Ken Riley, owners of Thompson's Sanitary Service, Inc., were named the U.S. Small Business Administration's 2006 Jeffrey Butland Family-Owned Business of the Year.
The award was presented to Rob and Ken by Leon Milobar, District Director of the SBA Portland District Office, at a lunch forum hosted by the Greater Newport Chamber of Commerce on Friday, May 19th.
Ken Thompson and his brother Neal started Thompson Sanitary Service, Inc. in 1963 when they won a competitive bid for the city franchise for the garbage collection in Newport. The Thompson brothers purchased the old equipment from the former service provider, which consisted of two 15-year-old Dodge open top dump trucks. Ken and his wife Agnes purchased their first Leach rear load garbage truck at that time. Two years later Ken and Agnes bought out Neal. They ran the business until 1981. At that time Ken and Agnes sold the company to Bob, their son, and his wife Sandi.
Originally the business operated out of a 9x10 ft. room in Ken and Agnes' home. The business has relocated several times because of growth, and in 2001 operations were moved into a new 6,400-square foot office off of Highway 101. Bob and Sandi have retired and the business is now actively managed by Ken Riley and Rob Thompson, members of the third generation. Over the years the industry has gone through many changes. One year ago, the family made a fundamental change to the collection of all its recycling on route for its customers, which required a very large investment of capital into trucks and roll carts. The customers responded in a tremendous way. As a result the business has grown and improved profitability while maintaining stable rates to its customer base, and the retention of 25 family wage jobs. This is the first year the family-owned business award has been given by the U.S. Small Business Administration. Thompson's Sanitary was nominated for the award by Oregon Coast Community College Small Business Development Center.
Laura's Studio by the Bay is a teaching art studio located on Alsea Bay. The facility is on 20 acres and includes a large barn that has been converted to an 800 square-foot studio area, a full kitchen, full bath facility and a 10-bed dorm. Students can come here and stay at the studio for a very nominal fee where they have access to a full kitchen and all the facilities. The studio area is open 24 hours during seminars, which allows students to paint at any time that suits them.
When Miller first bought the business, the building was in terrible shape and Miller spent the last four years investing in repairs and remodeling in anticipation of attracting customers not only from the immediate area, but also from outside the state and the country. Miller hosts international folk art painters who are looking for a U.S. venue to show and sell their works. Miller pays their way and their expenses while they are here. Artists attend painting conventions together where they can get maximum exposure to a pool of both national and international painters. Artists then return to her Waldport studio where Miller teaches a series of seminars based on their particular styles and they give demonstrations of their techniques. Miller charges a per student/per day fee which does not include the fee for staying in the dorm. The seminars are usually two or more days which means the students stay in this area for the length of the seminar and often a day or two more. They shop in the local grocery store, they often go 'antiquing' and usually all go out to dinner together at least once per seminar.
Miller received several boosts from the SBM program. Miller is much more comfortable with books and financial statements. The programs helped with developing systems in her business. This was the first time Miller had dealt with inventory and found it difficult to get a handle on how to track it, particularly supplies that are used but not sold.
It was incredibly helpful to have one-on-one assistance to figure out specific inventory problems and to have help figuring out what systems were going to work for the several parts of the business. As a result, Miller found places where she was using resources inefficiently and have been able to reduce both overhead and expenses. Miller also learned about margins, how to increase them and formulas to use to price products. Miller was able to attend a Small Business Development Center (SBDC) seminar that featured SBA International Counselors and with the help of a local attorney she met at the meeting. She now has professional advice in dealing with any international issue. The SBDC is partially funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration, Oregon Coast Community College and Oregon Economic and Community Development Department.
As a result of the program, I am expecting to increase sales by about 15% over the next year and am confident that Miller will be able to substantially increase client base. Miller also plans to hire one part-time employee next year.
It's a strange day at the office when you find yourself Googling the history of margarine.
It gets stranger still when you learn that a Frenchman -- from savory Provence, no less -- invented the buttery-hued schmear; that during the crusty course of its history some U.S. states banned it; Congress taxed it; laws prohibited coloring it yellow; and that 40 years ago a Portland entrepreneur was the first to start swirling it into the 1-pound plastic tubs so ubiquitous today.
Yes, here in the land of such edible treasures as Chinook salmon and chanterelles, hazelnuts and huckleberries, margarine -- oft maligned by dairy-centric food snobs -- made culinary history.
The year was 1966, and Robert M. Gregg, son of a North Plains mayonnaise maker, concocted a recipe, dreamed up a catchy name and started pumping out Gregg's Gold-n-Soft Margarine. By the following year, it accounted for 40 percent of his food company's business. It has persisted on supermarket shelves across the West ever since, selling better with Portlanders, incidentally, than with Seattlites.
Mike Gregg of Vancouver had recently seen new billboards promoting Gold-n-Soft and he'd noticed an uptick in TV ads for it. But it hadn't occurred to him that the ads signaled a milestone -- that 40 years had passed since his dad came up with "the biggest and best idea he ever had."
Margarine had been around since 1870. According to the National Association of Margarine Manufacturers, the French Emperor Louis Napoleon III hungered for a satisfactory butter substitute and offered a prize to whomever devised one. A fellow named Hippolyte Mege-Mouriez did just that, using margaric acid and coining the term margarine.
A New York company began manufacturing artificial butter the next year and within a decade was churning out several million pounds annually.
Butter makers balked. Long before consumers knew about saturated fat or had even heard of trans fat, the butter vs. margarine battle was on.
The margarine manufacturers' online history dubs butter activists "dairy militants," and describes how they pushed Congress to pass the Margarine Act of 1886, imposing a tax requiring margarine manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers to obtain expensive licenses. States outlawed the manufacturing and sale of colored margarine. The Armed Forces and federal agencies weren't allowed to use it except for cooking.
But by the 1940s, margarine makers had some grease of their own in Washington. Restrictions began to melt and after President Truman signed the Margarine Act of 1950, the federal margarine tax got the ax.
Back then, Robert Gregg had returned to Oregon after serving as a Navy pilot in World War II. He'd joined his father's food business, then taken it over. He mortgaged his house and took out a Small Business Administration loan to buy the most efficient machinery he could find for manufacturing mayonnaise, creating private-label brands for such grocers as Fred Meyer and Albertsons. To streamline the operation and maximize profits, Gregg bought entire rail tanker cars filled with vegetable oil, stocking up when the price was low and selling when the price climbed.
When Gregg discovered he could convert a machine designed for filling cottage-cheese and sour cream containers into a margarine maker, Gold-n-Soft was born. Other products he tried, from Cinnamon Swirl spread to Poke-a-Pops fruit drinks, never found the commercial success that the tub margarine did. On the heels of its success, Gregg took his company public in 1972 and retired a couple years later. He died in 1991, at 68, of congestive heart failure.
The company he nurtured, however, now owned by Ventura Foods, employs 80 people and continues to produce more than 1 million pounds of margarine a month at its plant near Portland International Airport.
At one point, the name Gregg's disappeared from the yellow margarine tubs. "But they got so many calls from faithful consumers," said Mike Gregg, "that they brought the name back."