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Oregon District Office
601 SW Second Avenue Suite 950
Portland, OR 97204
United States
Phone: 503-326-2682
Fax: 503-326-2808
Hours of Operation:
Monday through Friday from 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM

Wallet Guy Finds a Better Tape

Shoppers at Portland Saturday Market have known him for years as the Duct-Tape Wallet Guy. But Garett Croft Stenson is moving on – to gaffer's tape. Seven years after he made his first duct-tape wallet at college in Idaho, Stenson has closed the doors on Ductbills. In its place he has launched several new lines of gaffer's tape wallets that he calls pocket art. "One thing I want people to know is I'm still in the game," says Stenson, 26, whose new company is called db clay.

About a year ago, Stenson discovered gaffer's tape, which is used by lighting and sound technicians on stages and movie sets. Stenson compares it to space-age materials. At present, db clay offers five series of wallets, ranging in price from $40 to $85. Camera series: With images captured by Portland photographers, the wallets feature scenes such as a cloud- lined Central Oregon horizon. Sketchbook series: The wallets display sketchbook drawings by Portland artists. Limited series: db clay handscreens the designs with custom- mixed acrylics. Material series: The wallets' designs are based on recycled and found materials, inspired in particular by a linoleum floor design spotted in the former Dammasch State Hospital. Plain series: The wallets are plain, but can be decorated by their owners.

With the help of a U.S. Small Business Administration loan, Stenson now has four full-time employees, a manufacturing contract with a factory in Vietnam, a pending patent on db clay's designs, and accounts with about three dozen retailers worldwide, including four in Portland. Stenson intends to expand the product lines to include items ranging from clutches to luggage.

Apart from db clay, Stenson is even branching out into fashion design by investing in Sameunderneath, the Portland company for which his sister designs clothing made of yet another unusual material: bamboo.


Debbie Brown, Serial Entrepreneur!

Picture of Debbie Brown, Co-Owner of Four Small BusinessesTim and Debbie Brown started their lives together in 1978 on their farm in Nyssa, Oregon. Tim’s parents raised buffalo on their place as a hobby. In 1983 Tim’s parents retired from farming and Tim & Debbie took over their farm and the buffalo. In 1985 Debbie painted and posted the first Brown’s Buffalo Ranch sign at the bottom of the road in Nyssa. A few years later the low fat, leaner meat health craze took hold. 

Debbie recognized that there was a growing market for their Buffalo meat. In 1988, she started to heavily market the health aspect of the Buffalo meat and focused on the local restaurants. In 1992 they started Brown’s Chuck Wagon, a mobile facility that allowed them to cater private events, auctions, go to county fairs, and other public gatherings to sell their Buffalo Burgers and Indian Tacos.
Both businesses were quite successful, but early in 1999 Debbie recognized the need to expand their marketing and their services. She contacted the TVCC BizCenter about developing a Marketing Plan. After meeting with BizCenter Advisor, Debi DeBord, the Brown’s decided to expand their marketing to restaurants in Boise, McCall and Sun Valley, ID and also to schools, rest homes and hospitals. DeBord met with the Brown’s at their Ranch to develop their marketing plan using the BizCenter’s laptop computer.
In December of 2000, Debbie contacted the BizCenter again to discuss her interest in forming a cooperative with other bison producers to better take full control of their product line. Long term, the profitability of this business is in having the slaughter facility and processing their own products and selling those products themselves.
The Brown’s worked closely with BizCenter Advisors Andrea Testi and Gary Clark, researching the feasibility of purchasing a meat packing plant in Nampa and opening a retail space. During this time they also registered forand attended the NxLevel class, offered by the BizCenter and taught by Andrea. Debbie wanted a refresher in business management and wanted to make sure she was taking everything into consideration when making this decision to expand.
Seeking financing for purchasing this business and making the necessary renovations, was a critical part of their strategy. Many of the United States Small Business Administration Loan Programs were reviewed for compatibility with their financing needs. Ultimately, the Brown’s and their business partners agreed on an investor, self-financed cooperative business operation.
In August of 2001, Brown’s and their business partners purchased the USDA Certified, Northwest Premium Meats, LLC Debbie took over as plant manager and opened a retail store in the front of the facilities.
By the end of 2003, Debbie was ready to move on to yet another business venture. Tim was taking over managing the plant and enjoying it. Debbie started looking into the possibilities of becoming a personal chef, since she really enjoyed cooking.
Debbie also recognized the need to diversify their investments. She felt that it was not good to have all of the time and money tied up in the Buffalo business. In the Fall of 2005 Debbie created and started Cookie Art. 
As a child Debbie can remember her grandmother spending days baking for family and friends as holidays drew near. She could hardly wait for those wonderful cookies to come out of her oven. Debbie continued in her grandmother’s footsteps, baking those special holiday cookies for her family. And now, she’s taken that tradition one step further.
Each “Cookie Art” creation is personalized for her customers. All you need is the occasion to remember and she’ll deliver the memory...from “thinking of you” to “Happy Holidays.”
Debbie creates and sells individually decorated bouquets, large pan cookies, and assorted gourmet gift boxes for all occasions.
Once Debbie decided that she was going to start Cookie Art she contacted the BizCenter looking for assistance in marketing and pricing. Cookie Art has been open and operating for six months and has developed a steady and growing clientele.
If you ask Debbie why she felt the need to start another business, she will tell you “I have always enjoyed making cookies for family and friends on the holidays. I have reached a burnout stage in marketing the products I have produced for the last 27 years and now the opportunity has come for me to do something for myself.”
Debbie credits her success as a “serial entrepreneur” to her ability to jump in feet first. She says that she has never been afraid to jump in and try something new. She does her homework and researches each business venture before she starts. Once she has determined that it is a solid business idea she does not hesitate.
The TVCC BizCenter team systematically distributes client success stories to all local media, including newspaper, radio and the college newsletter. The BizCenter has a regular spot on KSRV AM 1380 talk radio, on which the success stories are discussed and promoted on air by radio announcer, Carl Follick.
The BizCenter team never knows exactly what to expect when Debbie calls; however, they do  know that it will be a well thought out idea with lots of fun involved for all!

Three Generations of Business

Picture of Ken Riley, Bob Thompson & Rob Thompson of Thompson’s Sanitary Service, Inc.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.

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