Jump to Main Content

Portland District Office

Success Stories

Success Stories

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... Read More
At Home in the Vineyard: Cultivating a winery, an industry and a life
At Home in the Vineyard: Cultivating a winery, an industry and a life is Susan Sokol Blosser’s account of the early days of Oregon's wine industry from her point of view as the co-founder of one of the first Oregon wineries to gain international recognition for premium-quality pinot noirs. She uses humor and honesty to recount the struggles and triumphs that she and her former husband, Bill Blosser, and their fellow pioneers encountered in the early days of Oregon’s wine industry. They had little capital and big ambitions.   Sokol Blosser and Bill bought their first vineyard, an abandoned Willamette Valley prune orchard, almost on a whim. Over the next two decades Sokol Blosser, Bill Blosser and their extended family learned just how hard it could be. They poured their hearts and their money into the business. They secured a Small Business Administration loan which they paid off by borrowing from family members because the interest rates of  the 1980s shot sky high. After... Read More

One day, Tommy Ogawa was walking on a street in downtown Portland when a woman asked him, "Are you Tom Ogawa?" He told her that was his father. "Well, I went to school with him, and you walk just like him," she said. "I thought YOU were him!"

The younger Ogawa shares more in common with his family members than just physical attributes. He remembers making french fries with his paternal grandparents, Hank and Yo Ogawa, at their restaurant, The Polar Hut, while he was growing up. He also remembers spending summers working in a  church camp kitchen in McCall, alongside his maternal grandfather, Marvin Trigueiro, a teacher with a culinary background.   When Tom Ogawa retired from teaching, he opened Ogawa's Teriyaki Hut. Tommy Ogawa later bought this, expanded its offerings, moved the location, and changed its name to Ogawa's. His sister, Chris Hicks, owns Zenbento's, a restaurant in Boise.   "I guess it runs in the family," Tommy Ogawa said of his culinary roots... Read More

Surf Cowboy CEO and founder Jeff Shafer moved his family to Camas, Wash., from Santa Monica, California two years ago. He decided to bring his company’s headquarters with him, citing the region’s deep talent pool for design, its proximity to a major port, and its moderate business costs. Surf Cowboy Inc. is best known for its high-end Agave brand jeans for men.

The move required a new building. The $9.7 million business broke ground last month on a 24,000-square-foot headquarters and distribution facility off exit 14 on Interstate-5 in Ridgefield, Wash. The land and construction cost $3 million, funded in part by a U.S. Small Business Administration loan.   Jake Agave Jean Co. was founded in 2002 as an all-men’s denim brand and hit it big by gaining distribution at more than 500 stores, including boutiques, select Nordstrom stores and Barneys New York.   The jeans retail for between $185 and $225 a pair with celebs like Samuel L. Jackson, Adrien Brody and... Read More