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Business Roundup: Beasts are no burden — Vet takes practice on the road

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Davisson gets supplies out of the custom-made cabinet in his Ford Explorer.

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Beasts are no burden: Vet takes practice on the road

When the Wenatchee Valley’s newest veterinarian drove to an appointment in March, his whole clinic went with him.

Mobile vet Bryce Davisson, who specializes in large-animal care and horses in particular, rolled up to the ranch’s corral in his trusty 1999 Ford Explorer, an SUV packed to the side panels with the latest in veterinary technology.

Tools for diagnostic, dental, X-ray, optical and surgical procedures cleverly unfold from custom-designed cabinets and foam-lined cases. They’re backed up by drawers full of bandages, creams, syringes and pills.

I see my work in the field as five-fold,” said Davisson. “Preventative, dentistry, lameness, medicine and surgery — those can cover a lot of territory when it comes to ailing animals.”

Davisson cranked up his practice in February after a few years of apprenticeship with small- and large-animal vets in the area. “I gained experience and learned lots,” he said, “including that I’d prefer to work with larger animals — horses and cattle.”

The 34-year-old Wenatchee native and Washington State University vet-school grad said he “grew up with horses, always had an interest in horses and still likes to learn about horses. So I decided that’s where I’d put my attention.”

Davisson decided, too, to put his money into portable equipment rather than a building and staff. Need an appointment? He answers the cellphone himself. Thinking of an office visit? No such thing — it’s all house calls. Want to pay immediately? He’s got a credit card scanner, computer and printer right behind the driver’s seat.

One of Davisson’s relatives who’s handy with wood fashioned a nine-drawer custom cabinet — Davisson calls it the “vet box” — that fits perfectly in his Explorer’s cargo bay. Davisson lifts the tailgate and glides open drawers containing de-wormers, anti-inflammatory meds, antibiotics, needles and syringes, catheters, colic-treatment tubes and pumps, disinfectants and bandages and hoof-treatment equipment.

In the back seat, separate cases store dental gear (harnesses and grinders for floating teeth), ophthalmology scope and eye-exam equipment, a portable X-ray machine and surgical gear for lacerations, castration procedures and removing lumps.

Davisson said he’ll drive his Explorer — and his practice — pretty much anywhere in Chelan, Douglas and northern Grant County. “Right now, I serve an area that stretches from Chelan and Manson down to, say, George,” he said. “Leavenworth to the Waterville Plateau.”

He leaned toward the vet box, checked that all the drawers were latched and eased down the tailgate till it clicked. “And I’m ready to go,” he said.


Gyros roll out on Mission Street

The Geren family has gone Greek.

Wenatchee residents Chris and Becky Geren, along with sons Eathyn and Tristyn, last month opened Chris & Beck’s Gyros, a snazzy food trailer on North Mission Street between Fifth and Seventh streets.

Five days a week, the Gerens make yummy gyros (pronounced “yuro” or “hero”), which is a kind of Greek sandwich of sliced lamb and beef, feta cheese, spinach, cucumber, tomatoes, red onions and creamy tzatziki sauce (a cucumber-yogurt topping) on warmed flatbread. The family’s selling about 40 to 60 a day, right now mostly to folks who are just driving by.

Business is good, and it’s all been word of mouth,” said Becky.

A few years ago Chris and Becky were eating gyros at the Washington State Apple Blossom food fair (in Memorial Park) and agreed that Wenatchee needed a Greek joint. “We wanted a place where we could buy gyros almost any time of year,” said Becky.

About 10 months ago, the Gerens leased the food trailer from friends in East Wenatchee — “it was just sitting there waiting for us, ready to roll,” Becky laughed — and they’ve been outfitting the mobile kitchen (including city and health district permits) ever since. Electricity, propane, water, refrigeration, vertical meat broiler, hanging flower baskets — the trailer has it all.

Cooking and serving comes naturally to Chris and Becky, both 36, who’ve worked in restaurants for much of the last 15 to 20 years. Becky rattles off their restaurant resumés: Gustav’s, Garlini’s, Applebee’s, Shakti’s, Red Robin, Fujiyama’s and the venerable Horan House, which closed years ago.

We’ve done it all,” she said. “We thought it was time to do something for ourselves — to own our own place.” The food trailer keeps overhead down and lessens the financial risk, she said.

Chris & Beck’s offers several kinds of gyros — traditional, vegetarian, sweet and spicy chicken — along with the popular option of building your own from 18 different ingredients. They also have a choice of $2 side dishes: Greek salad, hummus and chips and French fries.

Details: Chris & Beck’s Gyros, 601 N. Mission St., Wenatchee. Phone: 630-7965. Open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday. For more info, see their Facebook page.


Bon jour! French cosmetic company opens local outlet

Cosmetics have gone upscale at J.C. Penney in Wenatchee’s Valley North Center.

On May 2, the venerable retailer was set to open an in-store outlet of Sephora, the French cosmetic company. It’ll be one of the largest such outlets inside any J.C. Penney in the state, measure 2,200 square feet and provide jobs for up to seven new employees.

Sepora has about 1,800 stores around the world with 476 of them in J.C. Penneys around the country. Need more info? Call J.C. Penney at 663-2121 or visit sephora.com.


Crunch Pak’s sliced apples make it to the Big Apple

Cashmere-based Crunch Pak, the nation’s largest apple-snack company, last month announced a new partnership with the New York Yankees.

It’s a beautiful day for baseball and we are looking forward to a homerun season,” said an Tony Freytag, Crunch Pak’s vice-president of marketing. “This is a great way to bring America’s favorite snack — sliced apples — to America’s favorite pastime.”

The deal means that the Yankee logo will now be emblazoned on Crunch Pak products sold in select stores in the Northeastern U.S. and by vendors in Yankee Stadium.

We couldn’t be more excited to enter a new arena — literally — as our sliced apples will be sold throughout the YES (Yankees Entertainment and Sports) Network region,” said Freytag. Crunch Pak products will also be featured on the company’s giant electronic billboard in New York’s Times Square.


Downtown’s First Friday has new focus for summer

Downtown Chelan’s monthly community celebration — First Friday — has a new focus and new activities, the Historic Downtown Chelan Association announced last month.

Our main goal for the 2014 First Friday series is to build community,” said First Friday Chairman Mike Cooney. “I believe we can fill the sidewalks with people, to reconnect with friends and to celebrate Chelan’s unique hometown atmosphere.”

Summer’s First Fridays will run from 5 to 8 p.m. June 5, July 4, Aug. 1 and Sept. 1. in the city’s downtown core.

Plans call for more free hands-on activities for kids, musicians and performers on several downtown stages and food and beverage samples from downtown restaurants.

For more info, call the HDCA at 682-4322 or visit historicchelan.org.


BPW hosts ‘Real Beauty’ photo challenge

Women’s photos with no makeup? No foolin’.

Business & Professional Women of Wenatchee, a local business support group, has challenged its members to participate — without cosmetics — in a “Real Beauty” exhibit of unretouched photos in May at Pybus Public Market.

The goal, said BPW’s media chairwoman Rebecca Maloney, “is to change the mindset of how women are presented in mainstream media and eliminate the ‘Hollywood’ ideal. These women want to set an example for their families by promoting confidence and truth.”

The local presentation is similar to a national campaign sponsored by Dove, a maker of personal care products. The display will be unveiled at 5 p.m. May 15 at Pybus and feature photos, hors d’oeuvres, wine and discussion.

The exhibit by local photographer Nicolette Manning is part of the group’s new effort to expand its inspirational message to a broader audience, said BPW president Lilia Grundy. “We’re attracting many female professionals who have been hungry to find other female resources and opportunities to connect.”

For more info, call Maloney at 679-3598 or visit bpwwen.org.


Score offers free business advice

New entrepreneurs and owners of existing businesses can get expert advice from a local group of retired professionals.

The mentoring group SCORE, which touts itself as “counselors to America’s small businesses,” reminded business folks last week that their advisers can help start, expand or nurture back to health local businesses.

The free and confidential counseling is available by appointment. For more info, call 888-2900 or visit centralwashington.score.org.


Juicy and tart in any language

It didn’t take long in March for some of the 400-plus attendees at GWATA’s 2014 Innovator Awards Luncheon to notice the Arabic script stickered on the complimentary Granny Smith apples at every place setting.

You could almost hear the collective query: “Huh?”

Actually, there’s no real mystery here. The Arabic lettering curled along the brand sticker on those Granny Smiths is simply a great visual example of the Wenatchee Valley apple industry’s global reach.

The locally grown apples were packed and custom-labeled by Wenatchee-based Stemilt Growers, one of the world’s largest fruit companies, for one of the largest produce companies in the Middle East.

When Amy Lewis, program manager for GWATA (Greater Wenatchee Area Technology Alliance), needed some swag-bag-type goodies for attendees at the group’s annual awards luncheon, she turned to friends with orchards who then directed her to Stemilt.

Inventory’s tight right now,” said Brianna Shales, Stemilt’s communications manager, “so we gathered up 300 or 400 apples that were already boxed — a very random choice — and sent them to the banquet.” Those Granny Smiths, which store well for long periods and were still in their prime, happened to sport the sticker of the Middle Eastern company.

Shales offered a reminder that Stemilt sells fruit to scores of countries around the world. Arabic is just one of many languages from many cultures that could eventually get stickered on that Fuji (or other apple variety) grown by orchardists right down the road.


Work to begin on $6 million farmworker housing project

Work could begin as early as this month on a $6 million, state-funded apartment complex in Cashmere with capacity to house at least 200 seasonal farmworkers.

The 5.5-acre project is owned and developed by the Yakima-based Washington Growers League.

It’s near the intersection of Sunset Highway and Evergreen Drive, tucked back behind Piccadilly Circus Pizza & Subs and other businesses that line the north side of the highway. The site is backed by protected wetlands and bordered to the east by a bluff topped by homes and outbuildings.

It’s a perfect site,” said Mike Gempler, the league’s executive director. “We’re trying very hard to work with all the neighbors.”

The project’s layout is subject to change, Gempler said, but currently shows a manager’s residence/office and six, 2-story buildings containing apartments each equipped with their own kitchens and bathrooms. The park-like setting includes a central parking lot, lots of trees, a soccer field, central plaza and shared laundry.

The air-conditioned buildings contain 10 four-bedroom apartments and two six-bedroom apartments. The complex will be closed in the winter.

The league expected to finish buying the property on May 1 and begin construction shortly afterward, Gempler said. It likely will not be ready for use until the 2015 fruit seasons, he said.

The $6 million covers construction costs. The league will pursue additional state funding to equip the apartments, Gempler said.

The Cashmere complex will be the league’s second. Its Sage Bluff complex in Malaga contains single-story apartments with a communal kitchen and laundry. It has capacity for 270 seasonal workers, who each pay about $7 per night.

The league receives an “operating and maintenance” subsidy from the state to keep rents low, Gempler said. That will likely be the arrangement at the Cashmere complex.

Mark Botello, Cashmere’s director of planning and building, said the site is a former horse pasture. It’s already zoned for multi-family residences and has city water and sewer.

It’s a permitted use. It meets density requirements. It meets everything across the board,” Botello said, including Cashmere’s agricultural based history and orcharding economy.

Some community members have expressed some concern about crime and noise, he said, but have become more accepting of the project when they learn its details.

I can’t deny a project because of a certain type of renter,” he said. “It’s going to be seasonal. Not constant. Residents will be here for cherries, pears and apples. That’s part of life here.”

Gempler says alcohol is permitted in the complex, but the on-site manager has rules against rowdiness and drunkeness. Violators risk eviction.

The Sage Bluff complex is secure and has been well managed, he said. Growers have welcomed a place to refer their workers and often lease a number of rooms for them.

Developing housing and doing a good job of it is hard,” he said. “It’s a tough thing to do on your own property. Having housing located within a reasonable distance of your ranch and having it professionally managed is a great advantage and a great piece of infrastructure for the industry.”

He added, “The occupants are here to work. They’re just good, hard-working people. If you’ve busted you rear end all day harvesting cherries and it’s 3:30 p.m. and its 100 degrees outside and you want to have a cold beer, I certainly think you should be able to do that. That’s just normal stuff.”


Local breweries honored in national competition

A local brewer has grabbed three regional awards in a national tasting competition held last month in New Hampshire.

Brews by Icicle Brewing Company topped dozens of beers made in the Pacific Northwest in the 2014 Winter Competition of the United States Beer Tasting Championship. The 20th annual judging drew 580 beers from 151 breweries across the U.S.

In the Northwest region, Icicle Brewing took top honors in the Vienna/Marzen Lager category with its Dirtyface Amber and in the Spice Beer category with its Winter Drumfire. The local beer maker also grabbed an honorable mention in the Bean Beer category with its Dark Persuasion.

Also, another North Central Washington brewer — Old Schoolhouse Brewery in Winthrop — nabbed awards in the barleywine and stout categories.


Local firm has designs on Seattle

Usually it’s the big retailers or restaurants in Seattle that expand into North Central Washington. So here’s a real switcheroo.

Project Groundwork, the planning and design firm based in Wenatchee, has opened a new office in Seattle and added a new landscape architect.

Project Groundwork plans to grab design work on some of the big city’s future public and private projects. The new landscape architect, Mark Garff, has experience in environmental consulting, shoreline design and ecological restoration — all primary concerns when you build something in the Emerald City.

In Wenatchee, you can find Project Groundwork at 25 N. Wenatchee Ave., Suite 238. In Seattle, they’re located at 1631 15th Ave. W., Suite 119.


Hastings has new corporate owners

Customers at Hastings Books Music & Video shouldn’t notice much of a change in local stores even after the parent company’s merger in coming months with an international holding company, said Hasting execs in Amarillo, Texas.

It’ll all run smooth, and customers shouldn’t notice a thing,” said Dan Crow, chief financial officer of Hastings Entertainment. There are no plans to close any of the company’s 126 stores. Shareholders for Hastings Entertainment, with local stores in Wenatchee and Moses Lake, will likely approve a $21.4 million merger with Hendrix Acquisition Corp. that’ll take Hastings from a public to a private company at a payoff of about $3 a share.

The holding company that’s absorbing Hastings is owned by Joel Weinshanker, who also owns the National Entertainment Collectibles Association. That outfit licenses and merchandises celebrity-themed stuff, including the music, photos, movies and TV appearances of Elvis Presley. Weinshanker also manages Graceland, the former home of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, and some rights to the merchandise of Marilyn Monroe, Muhammad Ali and other celebrities.

A September article in the Amarillo daily newspaper said Hastings’ total revenues have declined for six consecutive years — from a high of $548 million in 2006 to $463 million in 2012.


Signature event has a new name

The suspense is over. One of Cashmere’s biggest festivals — Founders’ Days — has a new name and a slightly new focus.

Voting online and at three retail outlets, the public chose in March “Celebrate Cashmere” as the new name for the 35-year-old festival. Local resident Patty Morrison was the first to the submit the name and won $50 for her creative efforts. She’ll also be invited to ride in the festival’s big parade.

The festival, set for June 28, will continue to honor a local founding family — this year it’s the Boswells — selected by the Cashmere Museum and Pioneer Village. The celebration will also focus on family-friendly activities, which include (of course) the festival’s two iconic events — the Crunch Pak Grand Parade and the Doane’s Valley Pharmacy Ping Pong Drop.

For more info or to volunteer or sponsor and event, call the Cashmere Chamber of Commerce at 782-7404.


Gutzwiler calls it quits on PUD board

Twelve years on the Chelan County PUD board is enough for Commissioner Norm Gutzwiler, who has announced lastl month that he won’t seek a third, 6-year term.

The District 1 commissioner will finish his second and final term this year.

It’s been fun, certainly enlightening, but to make it 18 years is a long stretch,” said the 67-year-old Gutzwiler. “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it. I can’t express enough appreciation for the people who put me in office 12 years ago.”

The Wenatchee orchardist was first elected in 2002. The PUD was in wake of a firestorm over payment of extraordinary employee bonuses, multimillion-dollar mistakes in judgement, the self-arranged enrichment of a departing general manager and the hiring of a replacement that favored the status quo.

Gutzwiler helped set the tone for change and the resurgence of public opinion.

My first two years I would just as soon forget,” he said. “But you don’t want to forget them. There was a lot of conflict, a lot going on. The PUD seemed to be on the front page every day, and it wasn’t very nice.”

He added, “It was a learning curve for me… and the PUD.”

Gutzwiler was part of the boards who hired two of the most-respected general managers in recent PUD history — Rich Riazzi and John Janney — and the newest, Steve Wright, who was hired in July with near-sterling credentials as former administrator of the Bonneville Power Administration.

Hiring those managers has been a highlight in his commission career, Gutzwiler says. Others include:

Reducing utility debt over the last two years, with more reduction in the works this year.

Achievement of fish-survival goals around the utility’s Columbia River dams.

Seeing staffers’ team response to Columbia River operations, irrigators, fish agencies, and federal concerns over the crack discovered Feb 27 in the Wanapum Dam spillway.

But he points to a “small thing” as one of his proudest moments.

We do the flag salute every morning now. That was my suggestion, and I’m very proud of the PUD for doing that.”

Gutzwiler had double-bypass surgery in 2010, but today is in good health.

He says he plans to travel a little and spend more time his 10 grandchildren.

It’s really enjoyable watching your grandkids grow up,” he said. “I still like farming. I still like to go out. I don’t plan to be a couch potato.”