Jump to Main Content

Portland District Office

Success Stories

Success Stories

Pacific Tech Construction, Inc. Winner of SBA’s 2005 Regional and Portland District Minority Enterprise Development Awards

It’s a pretty good bet that Kelso natives Cal Miller and Joe Lane would have been successful businessmen out on their own. But put them together, and you have a partnership that’s turned Pacific Tech Construction from a regional commercial contracting business into a national building services company.

Theirs is an example of a business partnership that works, says Don Jones, president and CEO of Twin City Bank. Miller and Lane share a similar work ethic that gets the job done, says Jones, who knows Pacific Tech Construction well. They share the same vision and goals, and they are innovative businessmen who take good care of their employees, Jones says.   "I think it’s trust," Jones says of the duo’s secret to the success. "I think it’s a belief in the other’s ability and a desire to have a good company."   Last month, Miller and Lane marked their 10th anniversary as owners of Pacific Tech Construction in Longview. A flourishing business built on... Read More

Debi Sommars knows all about organic growth.

Her business, Portland-based Sommars Ovens, has literally grown one customer at a time. Her product, organic granola, is gaining popularity as the organic-food movement becomes more mainstream.   What began as a hobby in her kitchen has become a multistate business in only five years -- a far cry from the late nineties, when she was living in Southern California and baking 2-pound batches of organic granola for friends and family.   Then she moved to Portland with her husband, Mark Rosenbaum, a financial adviser who recently served as Mayor Tom Potter's campaign chair.   While grocery shopping one day, she noticed entire aisles devoted to organic products. "It was mind-boggling to me," she said. "It wasn't like that in Southern California."   A business idea was born.   She visited the Small Business Administration's SCORE office for business advice. She researched the organic- foods market,... Read More

As a student at Oregon State University during the early nineties, Sherlock B. Mahn, a native of Liberia, found a niche in exporting supplies for development projects in African countries. Building on his experience in his father's import-export businesses in Liberia, Mahn became a self-taught entrepreneur with a focus on bidding for World Bank procurement opportunities. In 1993, he founded Kwaplah Int’l Trading Company, Inc. with the initial intent to export textbooks and educational supplies or equipment.

Despite being employed full-time in the first years of launching his business, Mahn expanded the core product line of textbooks to include office equipment, AV and computer equipment, and occasionally even industrial machinery. With the success of being the bidder on several small Ethiopian projects also came disappointments when Kwaplah International was out-bid on larger contracts for more diverse products.   The secret of business growth, it became apparent,... Read More

With two dogs and two cats, Dave Faul (left) and his wife, Sandra Yates, are definitely animal lovers. But when Faul suggested they start a business washing dogs and cats in a van parked at clients’ curbs, Yates said, “Thinking he was nuts was an understatement.”

Nearly three years later, however, the West Linn couple’s Wash’n Roll Pet Grooming business has expanded to two vans driving to appointments throughout the metropolitan area.   Mobile pet groomers are more common on the East Coast and in California than in the Northwest, said Faul, 50 who was an account executive with a women’s apparel company for 25 years before starting his own business. However, the service is beginning to catch on in the region. At least three similar businesses are operating in the metropolitan area, said Angela Jones of Portland, a pet groomer for 10 years who went mobile a few months before.   Faul and Yates turned the key in their first van. “In a few months, a friend of mine in... Read More