Success Stories

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

Rebecca Pearcy spent years building her specialty handbag business, Queen Bee Creations. She started her business from the corner of her bedroom while she was in high school. Later she studied at a textile and fabric institute in Philadelphia. Pearcy loves color so much that she uses all the colors of nature in her purses. She started her Queen Bee Creations in Olympia, Washington in 1996 and moved it to Portland in 2002.

For 10 years she did just about everything – from designing bags to producing the items to shipping to bookkeeping. Pearcy worked so many hours to turn her business into a national success that she had no personal life. She was close to giving it up. Luckily, a friend suggested that she talk to a counselor at the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Portland Community College and she did.

Some of the most important advice Pearcy heard from counselors was to stop "being the business and instead run the business." Many small business... Read More

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