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Business Roundup | At Hort Expo: Millennials driving market changes

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Walmart executive Mike Hulett

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At Hort Expo: Millennials driving market changes

WENATCHEE — When grocery marketers talk about change, they talk about Millennials.

That’s the generation, said Walmart exec Mike Hulett, who drive a lot of marketing decisions by many of the nation’s Fortune 500 companies, including mega-retailer Walmart. Fruit marketers, he said, should take note.

Hulett, who grew up in Chelan and is now based in Walmart’s home city of Bentonville, Arkansas, discovers and helps market fresh foods for the global corporation. On Dec. 5, he talked on “Mega-Trends for Fresh Produce Retail” at the Washington State Tree Fruit Association’s 112th Annual Meeting & NW Expo in Wenatchee.

Hulett said Millennials, ages 16 to 35, are worth watching because they’re the largest generation in numbers (80 million in the U.S.) with the largest percentage of the nation’s workforce. Ninety-five percent of them are connected online, which makes them a powerful buying force.

Most importantly, said, Hulett, as a group their highest value is direct experience rather than hearsay or second-hand knowledge. “They show status,” he said, “through the things they do.”

So when it comes to apples, said Hulett, Millennials will prize its texture (crispness, crunchiness) and taste (flavor, freshness) and relate those qualities — good or bad — to their peers, either in person or through social media.

Apples, pears and cherries also fit the Millennials’ idea of eating “clean and clear” foods that promote good health and enhance human performance, he said. Fruit also meets Millennials’ demand for convenient foods and “responsible snacking.”

Among Millennials, “fresh” is the most sought-after food trend, with 87 percent of them currently seeking and buying fresh foods.

They seek fresh because they want to trust the foods they eat and the companies who provide it,” Hulett said.

When marketing to Millennials, he said, “a lot of people in the grocery industry are betting on fresh as the key trend towards customer satisfaction. 

 

Monthly ‘Shop Talks’ is all business

WENATCHEE — The Wenatchee Downtown Association has launched a series of information meetings where merchants and employees can learn from fellow business folks.

The hour-long monthly sessions — called “Shop Talks” — are set for 8:30 a.m. on the first Wednesday of each month. To begin, the sessions will be held in the meeting room of Merriment Party Goods, 23 S. Wenatchee Ave.

Each session “will feature downtown merchants or members of the community and organizations who will connect us — teach us and inform us,” said Linda Haglund, the WDA’s executive director. The sessions are free and will include coffee and morning snacks.

Presentations scheduled for coming months include social media, the historic relevance of downtown, insurance and benefits, succession planning, attracting new customers and more.

Those planning to attend upcoming Shop Talks should RSVP Haglund at 662-0059 or linda@wendowntown.org.

 

Express Employment honored for hiring of veterans

WENATCHEE — A local job placement company has been recognized as one of a dozen businesses around the state for its hiring of veterans in 2016.

Express Employment Professionals of Wenatchee placed nine veterans in jobs in 2016 and participated in numerous veteran-focused job projects, including the Wenatchee Veterans Hiring Event in September.

The state Employment Security Department announced award recipients in November in support of a Hire-A-Veteran proclamation by Gov. Jay Inslee.

Other award recipients included businesses, nonprofits and government agencies in Yakima, Richland, Spokane, Olympia, Ferndale, Everett, Seattle and Woodland.

From July 2015 through June 2016, WorkSource — the job and career arm of Employment Security — placed nearly 7,500 veterans into jobs, said an agency press release. About 85 percent were still employed after six months at an average wage of $17.60 per hour, the release said.

 

Goodwill is gravy at cafe’s 20th free Thanksgiving meal

CHELAN — The Apple Cup Cafe in Chelan celebrated 20 years of serving up its free — yes, free — Community Thanksgiving Dinner on Nov. 24.

Owner Ryan Peterson says around 900 people gobble-gobbled 44 huge turkeys and pans full of yams, corn, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and gravy. And also hundreds of slices of pumpkin and apple pie. Much of the food is donated by the restaurant’s vendors and is prepared and served by scores of volunteers.

Peterson’s mom, Dian Prentice, started the meal two decades ago after buying the restaurant, now in business for nearly 60 years. “This Thanksgiving Dinner has been a tradition for me since I was 9 years old,” said Peterson. “It started out as a way for us (Apple Cup Cafe) to give back to the community. But now it’s evolved into the community giving back to the community, sharing what we have with neighbors friends and family.”

 

Famous Footwear kicks off new store in East Wenatchee

EAST WENATCHEE — Here’s some news to lift your soles: Buying shoes here just got a whole lot easier.

Famous Footwear, the national chain with scores of shoe brands at more than 1,200 stores, opened its second area location Nov. 23 at Wenatchee Valley Mall. 

We’re in a prime spot next to Macy’s,” said manager Michael Imperato, a 9-year veteran of Wenatchee Valley retail. “It should be easy for customers to find us.”

He and co-worker Silvia De Jesus, also a longtime retail pro, have transferred from Famous Footwear at Valley North Center in Wenatchee to open the new store across the river. De Jesus, who’s worked four years at the Wenatchee location, will serve as assistant manager.

The new Famous Footwear will have 5,498 square feet of shopping and storage space and around 10 employees. The store opening in East Wenatchee coincides with another location that recently opened in Seattle.

Our decision to open two new stores was based on a recognized consumer need,” said Rick Ausick, president of Famous Footwear.

The East Wenatchee store’s grand opening Dec. 10 featured a giveaway of 100 pairs of shoes to the first 100 customers. 

 

Fruit magazine says ‘hola’

YAKIMA — One of the fruit industry’s primary publications, “Good Fruit Grower” magazine, has launched a Spanish-language website to serve the growing number of Latinos working in tree fruit and wine grape businesses. 

The site features articles and essays by researchers published in the magazine, plus videos on best horticultural practices. 

Our new site is one more way we serve the grower community, and Spanish speakers are a vital part of that community,” said BJ Thurlby, president of the Washington State Fruit Commission, which owns the magazine. 

Info: goodfruit.com/es.

 

Carl Campbell an unassuming success

WENATCHEE — Carl Campbell lives in a 12,000-square-foot Wenatchee penthouse, loves his two big houses on Lake Chelan, has owned and piloted multiple private jets and until recently ran one of the nation’s largest companies of retirement and assisted-living communities.

And — just ask anybody — he’s one of the nicest, most modest and quiet-spoken multi-millionaires you’d ever want to meet.

Carl’s a man of high moral character and extremely fair in business transactions, which in my opinion is the root of his success,” said Tom Leonard, an accountant who’s worked with Campbell for more than a decade.

He is a true gentleman,” said Sharon Tompkins, Campbell’s administrative assistant for the past 26 years. “Honest and humble.”

Campbell, who at 95 stands at the edge of retirement, recently recapped his life of accomplishment — in health care, aviation, retail development and philanthropy — as he begins downsizing his living quarters and reducing his business responsibilities while expanding his commitment to family, church and community.

It’s time to retire, time for a younger generation to take over it all,” said the still sharp and energetic nonagenarian. “I’ve got other things on my plate.”

And a crowded plate it is. In coming months and years, Campbell plans to:

  • Help oversee the sale, announced in September, of the last four properties in his senior living empire to Vancouver-based Prestige Care, Inc., a family-run company which owns 70 senior communities in eight western states. Campbell’s company, Triple-C Convalescent Centers, once had more than 180 properties in 21 states.
  • Step back from day-to-day operations but still be involved in the running of the Carl and Betty Campbell Foundation of Caring Fund, which has donated millions of dollars to local charities, churches and causes, including $1 million to the Central Washington Hospital Foundation in 2011.
  • Resize and remodel his 12,000-square-foot penthouse apartment on the fifth floor of Colonial Vista Care Center down to a 1,200-square-foot living space. He’ll then portion off the rest for additional apartments for tenants. He’ll also continue to occupy his business office behind the Colonial Vista tower.
  • Spend more time with family at his Lake Chelan properties and continue his involvement with the Wenatchee Seventh-day Adventist Church.
  • Maybe even take a few cruises.

Retirement, sure. But leisure? That may not come so easily for Campbell. “He’s a man who understands hard work,” said Leonard. “He and wife Betty started in the senior housing industry by performing all the services — administrative, assisting the residents, cooking, cleaning … all the hard work.”

Even now when Campbell walks through the halls of Colonial Vista, he takes time to chat with employees and ask about their tasks. “He has great appreciation for the work they are performing,” said Leonard. “He was once in their shoes.”

Beginnings

Born in Yakima, Campbell grew up during the lean years of the Great Depression, a time that instilled in him a love of family, skills for saving and investing and an early understanding of the healthy diet advocated by the Seventh-day Adventists.

Post high-school, Campbell studied to become a certified public accountant and then joined his brother Willis to work in the Alaskan lumber and building trades. He married Betty in 1942, and they were together — romantically and in business — for 68 years. The couple has two children — Kathy Ball, who with husband Marc runs The Guilded Lily in downtown Wenatchee, and Danny Campbell, who with his family lives in California — six grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

In 1953, while working construction in Seattle, Campbell fell on a saw and cut off the four fingers of his right hand. Miraculously, a surgeon successfully sewed them back, although their mobility has been limited. “I can still type,” chuckled Campbell, “but only with one digit.”

The trauma of losing and regaining his fingers spurred him, he said, “to pray to God, to promise him that if he saw me through this (tragedy), I would serve him the rest of my life.” Campbells pauses for a beat. “He did. I have. And my life has been full of his gifts.”

One gift, he said, was a nursing home project in Union Gap that he completed with his brother — an old three-story house converted into a 7-bed nursing home facility. It was Campbell’s first senior living project, and in the next 40 years he’d build or operate around 180 more.

Health care pioneers

Carl and Betty Campbell moved to Wenatchee in 1953 — “we wanted to live away from the rainy side,” said Carl — and together began the design and construction of Parkside Sanitarium, one of the first full-service nursing homes in Eastern Washington.

Carl handled finances and construction; Betty tackled interior design and office administration. It was a division of labor that would last until her death in 2010. “I was the boss,” he laughed, “but she didn’t always think I was.”

The Campbells built more senior facilities — some of them assisted living homes, which were revolutionary for the time — in Cashmere, Chelan, Moses Lake, Spokane, Idaho and Oregon.

We were pioneers when it came to assisted living,” said Campbell. “Hardly anyone was doing it. But we saw the need and decided it was a concept we should try.”

Their success in senior housing eventually grew to become Triple C Convalescent Centers, a company offering senior options from retirement to assisted living to skilled nursing facilities.

Up in the air

After Betty, Campbell’s second love was aviation. His office walls are packed with framed photos of airplanes and private jets — Learjets, Cessnas, Beechcraft — many of which he owned. Early in life, he became a pilot and by the time he stepped away from the cockpit (just over a decade ago) had clocked more than 6,000 hours in the air.

Eventually, Campbell figured out how to combine his love of winged machines with business. In 1982 at Pangborn Memorial Airport, he opened Executive Flight, an air ambulance and charter business that grew to have 14 jets and more than 100 employees, including 50 pilots and 23 mechanics.

The business thrived for 30 years, but the recession of 2008-09 took its toll on charter flights. Campbell and his staff ended charter services in 2012, sold all the planes but one, and now run the Executive Flight facility at Pangborn as an FBO (fixed base operation) service. That means fueling, maintenance and hangar rentals.

Over the years, it became more than a business to me,” said Campbell. “Yes, I’ve always loved aviation, but the air ambulance service touched many lives, helped so many residents here. People still tell me stories how the service helped them or a loved one.”

Giving back

As the Campbells prospered, they contributed millions. Donations helped fund the Central Washington Hospital Foundation, financed a new home for the East Wenatchee Seventh-day Adventist Spanish Church, built an expansion of the Cascade Christian Academy, funded medical research at various facilities and have helped back charitable efforts for dozens of local nonprofits and civic groups.

There are so many good causes out there, particularly in this area, that deserve support,” said Campbell.

So what’s the secret of Campbell’s long and active life? “Oh, I suppose a mostly vegetarian diet, which is followed by many Seventh-day Adventists, has helped me stay healthy,” he said. “But I’m optimistic, too. I look forward to every day, to see what God has in store.”

Tourism Summit now free

OLYMPIA — Pack your bags. All fees to attend the 2017 Washington Tourism Summit are being covered by a handful of corporate and civic sponsors, including Boeing, Port of Seattle, Visit Seattle, a couple of tribal casinos and others. 

Hosted by the Washington Tourism Alliance, the free summit kicks off at 8 a.m. Jan. 24 at the Washington Center for Performing Arts in Olympia. Keynote speaker will be Roger Dow, president of the U.S. Travel Association. 

Info: watourismalliance.com/tourismsummit.

 

Native nonprofit to receive Wells Fargo grant

NESPELEM — A Native American lending and business education group will receive a $240,000 grant from Wells Fargo bank.

The Northwest Native Development Fund, based in Nespelem, is one of 12 institutions this year to receive such an award, called the “Wells Fargo Works for Small Business: Diverse Community Capitol” grants.

Wells Fargo announced in November it will provide $11.2 million in lending capital and grant monies to minority-owned small businesses. All grant recipients are Community Development Financial Institutions, which are private, nonprofit groups that assist underserved populations.

The NNDF will use the grant money to provide loans to small business owners who may not qualify for traditional financing and to also upgrade technology and increase technical assistance and coaching to borrowers.

 

Chelan Seaplanes loses lease, glides to a halt

CHELAN — Lake Chelan’s only commercial seaplane service has suspended operations between Chelan and Stehekin following termination of the lease on a portion of its longtime lakeside location.

Shane Carlson, owner of Chelan Seaplanes, said Dec. 1 he received a lease termination notice from the property’s new occupants — developers of the planned Sunset Marina LLC and condos — and has been unable to find a new, suitable lakeside location for the 71-year-old flight service. But he’s still looking.

In 2009, Chelan Seaplanes took over operations of Chelan Airways, which had been flying the route to Stehekin and other Lake Chelan locations since 1945. The service has operated for more than 30 years on property next to the Lady of the Lake boat facility on Lake Chelan’s south shore.

This is a very sad day for Chelan Seaplanes, and we deeply regret the situation we are in,” Carlson said in a press release. “Most importantly, it’s a sad day for Stehekin and the Chelan Valley. The historic seaplane service has come to an end for now.”

Scott McKellar, spokesman for the partnership building the marina and condos, confirmed his company had terminated the flight service’s lease, but said Carlson had known about the change since March. The terminated lease covers parking spaces used by Chelan Seaplane’s customers and an access area to an adjacent property where the planes dock, he said. Docking floats for the seaplanes are connected to a third party’s lakefront property.

We suggested other options to Mr. Carlson,” said McKellar, “but it’s up to him to act on them.”

McKellar said Sunset Marina, in partnership with property owners Goodfellow Bros. Inc., will begin construction of the marina-condo development sometime this winter. Developers hope to build the foundation of a lakeside clubhouse while seasonal lake levels are at their lowest. Additional construction of the marina, condos and amenities will launch in the spring.

Chelan Seaplanes operated each year between mid-May and mid-October, and in 2016 flew more than 5,000 passengers on scheduled flights between Chelan and Stehekin.

The company, one of three Northwest flight services run by Carlson, usually kept one plane — a six-seat DeHavilland Beaver float plane — stationed in Lake Chelan with one full-time and three part-time pilots available. The company flew three scheduled flights daily, but charter runs sometimes pushed that number up to seven flights daily.

In addition to Chelan Seaplanes, Carlson operates Friday Harbor Seaplanes, which is based in Renton, and Northwest Seaplanes, which runs scheduled and charter flights to British Columbia destinations.

Carlson said he’s hopeful that the air company can resume service soon. He said he’s considered other lakeside locations as a seaplane base, but high costs or poor siting has eliminated most locations. Ideally, a new base would be a location protected from prevailing winds, not far from downtown Chelan and situated near the Lady of the Lake boat facility. Carlson estimated that between 30 and 45 percent of his seaplane customers use a boat-plane combination to visit Stehekin.

Carlson said one option to save the air service would be a collaboration among Chelan Seaplanes, the City of Chelan and the Port of Chelan County to build a seaplane base.

We are confident that with the support of the Stehekin businesses and residents, along with those in the Chelan Valley that have valued the service, we will come together with a solution to restore the service and find a permanent home for the seaplane service,” said Carlson.

The service has been on the lake far too long to see it go away permanently,” he said.

 

Marson and Marson to merge with Tum-A-Lum

LEAVENWORTH — Local building supply retailer Marson and Marson Lumber has announced it will merge its four-store chain with a similar-sized lumber and supply company located in Oregon.

The 61-year-old Marson and Marson company — with stores in Leavenworth, Wenatchee, Chelan and Cle Elum — begins operating as part of the Tum-A-Lum Lumber company on Jan. 3. The local stores will continue to operate under the Marson and Marson name.

This move is part of our families’ long-term strategy for the growth of the company as well as providing future opportunities for our employees,” said Marson and Marson President Ken Marson. “Tum-A-Lum is a family-owned company with business values not unlike our company’s founders.”

Marson said he will continue in company management for at least the next two years. He’s been with the business for 41 years and is the last founding-family member working for the company.

The 70-employee Marson and Marson, which operates full-service lumber yards and building supply centers, was founded in 1955 by Gordon and Marydell Marson and Kenneth and Marie Marson. The merger includes the company’s four stores, a truss plant, design center and drywall distribution facility. Closing of the deal means Marson and Marson will become a division of TAL Holdings LLC, the parent company of Tum-A-Lum.

Our company was founded on the same basic business principles as Tum-A-Lum — building honest, fair and ethical relationships with our customers,” said Marson. “I see our ongoing operations as business as usual.”

The 110-year-old Tum-A-Lum has three building supply centers in Oregon — Hood River, The Dalles and Pendleton.

 

Fruit industry experts talk tech, labor, marketing at annual Hort convention

WENATCHEE — Change is the new normal, said fruit expert Jim McFerson. And that’s not likely to change soon.

Growers, shippers and marketers at the Washington State Tree Fruit Association’s annual convention gave knowing nods here Dec. 5 to presentations — including McFerson’s keynote speech — highlighting dramatic change in the fruit industry over the last 20 years.

Technology, research, orchard practices, labor challenges, marketing and packaging — nearly all industry sectors have evolved to meet shifting consumer tastes and the rise of global markets, said experts at the WSTFA’s 112th Annual Meeting and NW Hort Expo. With a theme of “The New Normal: Continuous Change,” the gathering ran through Dec. 7 at the Wenatchee Convention Center.

Advances in science and the digital revolution have brought widespread innovation to the industry,” said McFerson, director of Washington State University Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center in Wenatchee. “They’ve changed our industry in fundamental ways.”

McFerson delivered the association’s 37th Batjer Address — titled “Technology Road Map 2.0” — to a ballroom packed with hundreds of industry insiders. More than 1,600 people were expected to attend the three-day expo.

The WSU professor’s wide-ranging presentation emphasized some of the last two decades’ key innovations and provided a taste of lecture topics:

Advances in fruit storage, including the post-harvest application of SmartFresh, a solution that slows the ripening of apples and other fruits.

The redesign of packing sheds into “beautiful, sparkling food-handling facilities” with stainless steel installation that are easily cleaned and sanitized.

The computerization of sorting lines that can now find defects — “magic!” — in fruit and improve pack-outs for size and quality.

The research, development and breeding of the popular (but difficult to grow) Honeycrisp variety which, said McFerson, is “a lousy apple for a lot of reasons, and a great apple for a lot of reasons.”

Innovations in orchard systems — poles, trellises, wires — that promote high-density crops and ease pruning, thinning and harvesting.

Development of new rootstocks resistant to pests and diseases that are tolerant to replanting.

New cherry varieties that spread harvests from June through September.

McFerson said innovations now underway include crop-load management practices that have introduced post-bloom thinning to standard pruning and thinning techniques; growing use of orchard netting for protection from sun and hail; development of mechanical-assisted harvesters — moving platforms and robotic pickers — to aid orchard workers; and installation of reflective fabric (called DayBright) in orchard rows, which has boosted test yields by 23 percent.

It’s all about meeting and exceeding customers’ expectations,” said McFerson. “To do it, we build on research, we build on science.”