Success Stories

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... Read More
Laura's Studio by the Bay Goes International
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... Read More
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

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