Grow Vancouver – Caps off a great year

Tim Boyle, CEO of Columbia Sportswear speaks in Vancouver, Wednesday November 18, 2015. Washington State University Vancouver’s Business Growth Mentor & Analysis Program along with the CREDC’s Grow Clark County hosted the event. (Natalie Behring/The Columbian)

(Natalie Behring/The Columbian)

Tim Boyle, CEO of Columbia Sportswear spoke  in Vancouver, Wednesday November 18, 2015. Washington State University Vancouver‚’s Business Growth Mentor & Analysis Program along with the CREDC’s Grow Clark County hosted the event.

The Grow Vancouver series evolved from five  years of Pub Talks, which began in 2009. It was the first sustained effort by the CREDC to reach out and highlight the entrepreneur and start up community here in Clark County and was launched to help build on one of the planks of the CREDC strategic plan – which is help to nurture and sustain local companies that can add jobs.  One,  they are often on the cutting edge of the economy and two, you can be much more effective and cost efficient than trying to recruit across the country or around the world.

Tim Boyle’s story serves as a reminder that even when things look bleak, you can find the right path.  Tim’s father passed away when he was 21 years old, and he left his studies at the U of Oregon to return home and help his  mother Gerte Boyle run the company.  Within about six months they were sure they had come to the end of the road, but were able to secure  advice from several key business experts, which led to the reinvention, and revival of the company.

The event had attendance of about 150 and a widely diverse audience that ranged from WSUV Business Growth Mentor & Analysis Program (MAP)  students and staff,  local commercial real estate developers and  agents, high level legal firms and several local elected officials.

In a direct answer to an audience question Boyle said he’s feeling very positive that eventually there will be a Columbia Sportswear presence in Clark County.

Kudos go to Max Ault of the CREDC  who was responsible for making 2015 the year of transition from PUB Talk to Grow Vancouver.  His goals was to create an event that allowed the public to get up close and personal with some of the entrepreneurial companies who are leading the continued economic revival  and in some cases creating the jobs of the future.  Looking forward to seeing what 2016 brings .


ABC’s of CCE ( Clark County Economy )


home_hoodHere are a few themes and stories that have been the fabric of our economic and political scene in Clark County during 2015. As always it is never dull here in Southwest Washington.



Angelo’s buy Riverview Tower
Blue Bird closes after 32 years – thank you Wade
Coffee / Coffee / Coffee on every corner in the County
Dueling Water Front Developers ?
Election Day….. Please get here ! Monica and Alishia already gearing up for 2016 ??
Fee Waivers still producing results
Growth Management Plan / Alt 4… 5… 6 ???? Can we have a final answer ?
Hazel Dell home to a retail revival – Panera / Sports Authority / 2 Dutch Brothers
Innovative Partnership Zone ( IPZ) is working
Joe’s Place continues to survive city life
Kassab builds and Sells 94 apartments in downtown – Leads the way
Local Labor market continues expansion by 6300 jobs in last 12 months
Marijauna revenues finally realized
New fire station at Main and Fourth Plain
Oil Terminal dominates all discussions
Pac Trust driving Eastside Growth
Quay to close October 31. Dramatic changes in store
RiverCruise business poised for growth?
Sun Modo finds a home as Solar Industry continues to expand
Transportation Budget from Washington State Legislature sucks for Clark County
Uptown Village on the upswing
Value Village – a new face soon
Walmart is now in Orchards – seven stores total
X – Motorola Moto X – is this phone really good?
Yes ! traffic is worse everywhere you drive in Clark County .
Zenith properties continues steady growth – leading Clark Property management firm

New Craft Brewery Coming to Uptown Village

Here is a recent article published in the Vancouver Business Journal about a client of ours, Bryan Shull who is opening Trap Door Brewing this summer.

Bryan has laid a solid  foundation for his business by creating a  detailed    business plan and using the resources of Buck Heidrick of the Washington State Small Business Development Center.  This helped him both in negotiations with his new Landlord, and in asking a bank to provide him financing.

(Vancouver Business Journal – April 3, 2015:

Trap Door BrewingGenerations of experience pour into Trap Door Brewing.

Right in the heart of Vancouver’s Uptown Village, a new craft brewery is on track for a summer 2015 opening.

Last month, Trap Door Brewing LLC leased the 3,200-square-foot space at 2315 Main Street – formerly the home of One World Merchants.

Bryan Shull, taster and CEO of the new brewery, said that he has been eyeing the property for some time, calling it “an epic location.”

With a background in renewable energy (solar panels and fuel cells), one might think Shull is new to the world of brewing. However, he does bring a bit of history and experience into the business.

“My father and grandfather both worked for Great Western Malting for years,” he said. “Brewing has been in the family.”

Shull himself even worked a summer in college at Great Western.

“Beyond that, my real history of beer is tasting,” he said with a grin.
According to Shull, Trap Door Brewing is homage to the memories of his father and grandfather.

“My dad died from cancer recently,” he said. “I had left my career in renewable energy to walk down that path with him and take care of him. I knew I wanted to do something really special, start a family business.”

Joining Shull in the venture are his sons Zane and Zakary Singleton. Zane is finishing his degree at UC Davis where he has been studying fermentation science; he will operate as the head brewer while Zakary and investor David Forster provide capital and additional business expertise.

Members of the community are invited to be a part of the experience as well, via Trap Door’s Founder’s Club – a tiered membership program through which anyone can become a long-term “partner” in the venture.

“[Founder’s Club members] become the ‘cream of the crop’ of customers,” explained Shull. “They’ll be invited to special events, receive special tastings and pairings and a bunch of other surprises I can’t let out just yet.”
Trap Door’s neighborhood “Co-Hop” even lets local residents grow their own hops with rhizomes provided by the brewery.

“We’ll create special brews celebrating the neighborhoods the hops are grown in,” Shull added.

For those who simply want to enjoy sampling craft beers, the brewery will offer a special limited membership club for that as well.

With Trap Door Brewery’s unique membership offerings, Shull said he isn’t too concerned about standing out in an already crowded market.

“I don’t like to think of it as much as competition, but rather ’Coopetition,’” Shull said. “While the rest of the Pacific Northwest might be a little crowded, Clark County really isn’t. I find the atmosphere here is really one of sharing and working together to elevate our marketplace.”

As for the beers themselves, Shull said Trap Door will be a 15-barrel brewery that pushes the boundaries of flavor.

“We will be pioneers of flavor,” he said. “Zane will head us into a new frontier where we pull from yellow beer, wine and liquor drinkers with our unique barrel aging and sours.”

Trap Door Brewery opens for the annual Cruisin’ the Gut event on July 18, with a full opening anticipated for August of this year.

Congrats to Puj!

Congratulations to one of my clients, Puj, for taking this next step in their business!

Puj Kickstarts 2015 with New Product, New Hires

Article published in the Vancouver Business Journal

Friday, 06 February 2015 – Written by Temple Lentz

Katie and Ben RichardsonSince the summer of 2013, Vancouver-based design company Puj has occupied downtown’s Wolf building on 11th Street. The company, founded in 2009, has had extraordinary and nearly instant success with its baby- and family-oriented products designed by husband-and-wife team Katie and Ben Richardson.

Beginning with the Puj tub, the couple has designed products to “simplify parenthood,” said Ben Richardson, “so you can spend more time with your little ‘puj.’” “Puj,” pronounced “pudge,” refers to a pudgy little infant. The Richardsons chose the phonetic spelling, he said, both to have a unique company name, and because they liked the design aesthetic and “short, graphic nature of the three-letter name.”

Building on its success with the tub, the company has grown quickly. They have added new products and sell others that they call “Puj Approved.”

To start 2015, Puj launched a Kickstarter campaign to introduce and pre-sell a new product, the PhillUp Cup, a kid-sized cup that comes with a hook for the fridge so the cup can hang at kid height. At less than two days into the campaign, the project fully met its funding goal, and has been continuing to get support through the entire one-month funding period. At press time, the campaign had raised nearly $50,000 – well above the stated goal of $30,000.

The company decided to use Kickstarter, Richardson said, “Because the world has changed and we want to be a part of it. We wanted to try it out and see how it goes.” Using Kickstarter, he said, meant that “customers could participate in the new product process and influence the outcome in many ways.

“If you have an idea, you can try it and know almost immediately if people will respond to it,” he added. “This is the future of getting ideas off the ground.”

By engaging in the Kickstarter campaign, customers are able to give feedback on colors and design in a way that the company can instantly use. Additionally, it builds and strengthens the customer/company relationship. Using Kickstarter, Richardson said, “Customers can get the product before anyone else, and usually at a price that will be lower than retail prices.”

Although the campaign did broaden Puj’s audience and reach, Richardson said that the real key to its success was having a strong marketing plan behind it.

“You need to bring your own traffic [to a Kickstarter campaign],” he said. Many people start a campaign “and wait for people to come to them. But that doesn’t work. You need a strong plan in place to draw people to you.”

Beyond the PhillUp Cup Kickstarter campaign, Puj is growing quickly and launching new products and partnerships later this year. Hiring has expanded, and, according to Richardson, the company is working on “getting the right people in place so we are ready for it (growth).”

And as for the still empty showroom in the old Wolf building? Richardson said the company does plan to fill the showroom and also use the space as a community area, with classes and community events.

“We should be opening it in 60 to 90 days,” he said, adding that Puj looks forward to becoming even further integrated into downtown Vancouver.