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Success Stories

Happy with waffle iron content body

Derrick Pruitt, owner of Happy’s Java and Soul Food Shack sells the unheard of – home-cooked meals from a drive-up window. After a near-fatal hit and run accident in 2008, Derrick was told he would never work again. Defying the odds, he built his own innovative and successful coffee, barbecue and soul-food business with his wife, Marcella, in Springfield, Oregon.

Derrick, or Happy as he is more commonly known as, developed his cooking skills and menu from watching his parents cook during childhood.  “Most of these recipes have been in my family for over 100 years,” said Happy. “My specialties include Alabama-style barbecue and smoked meats, soul food dishes, Belgian sweet potato waffles and fresh hand-roasted coffee. “

Happy makes all of his food, sauces and seasonings from scratch and uses state-of-the-art smokers, ovens and imported Belgian waffle irons to help speed up his authentic home-cooked soul food.

Five years ago, Happy was in a life-changing hit and... Read More

Dr. Matt Hicks had wanted to be a dentist for as long as he can remember. He thinks it may have had something to do with what his Mom told him at a young age; “take care of your teeth or they will fall out of your head.”

Becoming a business owner was not so natural for Matt. After graduating from the Dental program at Oregon Health and Science University in 1997, he went to work for Dr. David Long at Moreland Neighborhood Dental. He happily lived out his dream, working as an associate for the next eight years. But in 2004, Dr. Long laid out the future for him. “I told him, either you buy the practice or you move on,” said Dr. Long. So just like that, Matt began to take over Moreland Neighborhood Dental.

Without any prior business experience, Matt found himself struggling with most aspects of running the practice. “I didn’t know what I was doing,” said Matt. “It was intimidating, so I did what Dr. Long had done for years and things just went along.” The practice... Read More

The holiday tradition of building and decorating gingerbread houses inspired crafty Mom, Cheryl Albers, to try her hand at making houses from scratch and throwing decorating parties. Immediately, party and gingerbread house requests started coming in from friends and friends of friends. Cheryl had uncovered a demand, where people not only wanted to continue the holiday tradition, but also wanted fresh, homemade gingerbread that wasn’t just edible, but tastes great. “I truly sell fun,” said Cheryl.  “Young, old, who doesn’t love decorating a gingerbread house?”

The demand for the houses sent Cheryl looking for a place to expand beyond her home kitchen and she landed on Main Street in Oregon City. Gingerbread Traditions, Inc. ran operations from there for eight years. Yet the small footprint provided many challenges, including that pallets had to be loaded and stored outside prior to pick up. In a state known for its rainy weather, this proved to be unpractical.

Now, 15... Read More

When a Business Needs a Team for Success

When Marshall Doyle settled in Portland, Ore., after four years in the Air Force and another five years in the Air National Guard, he wasn’t thinking about owning a business. He wanted to get a job and support his wife and two young children. Marshall worked his way up through a local property management firm, eventually overseeing 40 employees. But he wasn’t satisfied. “I always felt like I could do more,” said Marshall. “I was always looking for opportunities.” So when a friend of the family introduced him to the owner of Cal-Cert who was looking to sell his business, Marshall jumped at the opportunity.

It meant a $20,000 cut in pay, but the challenge made up for it and in 1998, Marshall went to work at Cal-Cert. Eight months later after learning the ropes, he purchased the company. Marshall had some experience in calibration from serving as Field Systems Mechanic while in the Air Force, but he didn’t have a lot of knowledge about running a small business. That’s when he... Read More