Member Stories

First American Title, Doing the Right Thing

C.E. Parker founded First American Title with small humble beginnings tracing back to 1989 in Orange County California, then doing business as Orange County Title Company. Over the years the company has expanded far beyond borders changing its name to First American Title. It serves nearly 70 countries, with being the first title insurance provider in Mexico, Korea, and Hong Kong, as well as being the leading market share in Australia and England.

First American Title officially began operations in Yamhill County in 2004 when they acquired one of their long time agents, Northwest Title Company. Northwest Title Company began operations in Yamhill County in May of 1974. During this time, Northwest Title Company was writing policies under several different national title insurers, but in 1977, an agreement was reached for First American Title to solely provide policy coverage to clients in Yamhill County through Northwest Title Company.

First American is distinguished by 125 years of service and has more than 600 offices across the country. They celebrate the spirit of community. As one of the leading providers of real estate property data in the nation, advanced technology enables them to deliver information faster and with greater accuracy. Continually evolving to serve the business objectives of our customers. American Title operations offer title insurance, settlement services, property data and analytics, title data and technology, property and casualty insurance products, home warranty services and many others. As Crystal Marks shares, “caring for one another is as natural as breathing at First American. We put people first. It means fostering personal and professional growth. Being there for each other, embracing cultural differences and expanding our understanding of the world around us. We are 17,000+ strong because of the support we are given ”.

First American has adopted ongoing sustainability practices. They have sponsored periodic EcoFairs that protect and preserve our community and planet’s resources. Over the years they have participated in Breast Cancer Awareness Month fundraisers as well as Relay for Life. First American is a proud sponsor of Habitat for Humanity “Team Build” events supporting our McMinnville Community. “The sense of community in McMinnville is so strong says Crystal. The well-being of each other is treated with genuine sensitivity. We encourage each other and serve. We have great heritage here. We have great camaraderie and like to rally together to support causes and a great sense community”.

“The Chamber has given First American opportunity to build and strengthen our community relationships. Meeting new people and having regular networking occasions has been extremely helpful in growing our business! They keep us apprised of Public Policy and community activities helps us stay involved and interactive with our city”.

The staff at First American Title have long standing ties to the community that go beyond the title insurance coverage. Building its foundation on integrity and service, the future is bright for First American Title as they will continue to provide customers with respect and deliver services with insight and integrity. Today it is a publicly owned corporation with a place on the New York Stock Exchange and is more than 11,000 people strong. “Doing the right thing for each other and our customers. This is the world of First American ”.

Learn more about First American Title!

 

McMinnville Farm Store – Your Local Farm Store

Wilco Farm Store is McMinnville’s local place to go for your supply of the everyday needs of Pets, Backyards or Farms. The store’s five core departments include: Work Wear & Footwear, True Value Convenience Hardware with Ben Moore Paint, Lawn & Garden supplies with a Nursery-Style Garden Center, Pet Food, and Supplies with Full-Service Pet Grooming and Livestock and Equine Supplies, Feed and Fencing. Wilco Farm Store is how it is a part of Wilco, which is a cooperative that has root back to the 1930’s. The company became Wilco in 1967 when five co-ops throughout the valley decided to merge. The first farm stores opened in the 1990’s with the hope to provide more back to our member owners.

Today Wilco and the farm stores are what they are today because of their members, customers, and their employees. Wilco couldn’t do what they do without the continuous support of their member and customers. They are the reason for continued growth as a company. They couldn’t do it without the employees who all have a common goal- to provide excellent service and solutions for Wilco customers & members. Over the years we have also been able to partner with other co-ops like True Value and Purina along with many other vendors who allow them to provide quality products for their customers.

At Wilco, customers will always find knowledgeable staff who share similar passions as them and are eager to help in any way they can. In addition to that, Wilco meets the needs of customers in many different aspects. Wilco stands out from its competitors by offering quality service, knowledgeable staff, and a dedicated community backing them. The driving force and passion behind Wilco is their strong belief in their Company and their main desire to provide the customers with quality merchandise at a reasonable price.

The way Wilco supports its local community shows their dedication and commitment to those whom they serve. They take an active role in youth and agricultural type events.  Each year they participate in the Yamhill County Youth Livestock Auction. They also partner with the fair and rodeo to help support it in addition to contributing to other groups like OHSET, individual FFA Chapters and 4H groups among many other community events and groups. In years past, the McMinnville store team has also taken an active role in community service by donating their time to helping to restore the nearby cemetery next to the store.

The McMinnville Chamber of Commerce has helped Wilco to keep the community informed of different promotions that are taking place at the local Mac Farm Store by allowing them to post such promotions on their web page.The Chamber has also provided Wilco with the opportunity to take part in annual community events such as Lemonade Day and Turkey Rama. The Community of McMinnville is so special to have a Chamber so involved and ready to help its community and businesses thrive. The community has been built around a fascinating history which Wilco as a business and member is proud to share with newcomers. McMinnville is an inviting and welcoming place to be that presents a sense of belonging.

Learn more about Wilco here!

You Matter. Amazing Care Every Time.

Once known as the McMinnville Hospital, owned by Doctor Elmer Goucher and a handful of other owners and physicians who brought exceptional talent, passion, and desire to the community. Over the years and change of hands came McMinnville Community Hospital, to today known as Willamette Valley Medical Center located at the center of Yamhill Valley. The Willamette Valley wouldn’t be the place it is today without
Willamette Valley Medical Center’s innovation, dedication and support.

Willamette Valley Medical Center offers exceptional healthcare not just by small town McMinnville standards, but recognized as the top 100 hospitals in the US. They are 1 of ONLY 117 other hospitals to continue to exceed top quality measures 5+ years in a row. The consistency speaks for itself and that is what they want the community to know. “At Willamette Valley Medical Center, our goal is to deliver amazing care every
time you visit our hospital. With the help of dedicated physicians, employees, volunteers and Board Members, along with the continued support of our community, we continue our passionate pursuit of excellence”. WVMC’s ultimate goal is to deliver the highest quality healthcare and make a positive impact on the communities they serve. WVMC offers many services and has been recognized for many services they do offer.

Here is how they support and give back to the local communities:
● 620+ Employees
● $48.1 Million in salaries in 2016
● 2017 iVantage “Top 100 Rural hospital”
● Leapfrog Group, 2016 “Rated A for Safety”
● Accredited Center’s of Excellence
– WV Weight loss Surgery
– WV Joint Replacement Institute of Oregon
– WV Wound care and Hyperbaric Medicine
– WV Cancer Center
● Over $100,000+ to local non-profits in 2016
● Over 10,000 hours donated by physicians to proctor Medical School residents as
they continue their training through multiple specialties
● Over $6 Million dollars in charity and uncompensated care given in 2016
● Founded and supports a sister hospital in Ghana through the Ghana hope
foundation. Has given MRI machines and equipment to establish 4 operating
rooms. Sent group of physicians to perform over 50 surgeries in 3 days.
● Sponsor and organize “Stuff the Bus” that collected 22,863lbs of food and 311
toys for the community

WVMC’s focus on health for the community is perfectly stated in their mission statement: You Matter. Amazing Care Every Time. This mission is driven by their core values of Integrity, Innovation, Compassion, Celebrate, and Teamwork. With keeping in mind a healthy, thriving community, WVMC demonstrated an example of their focus on health for you. When they became the first facility in Oregon and one of the first in the
United States to offer revolutionary 3D tomosynthesis mammography. This goes to show Willamette Valley Medical Center’s quality dedication to those whom they serve.

Willamette Valley Medical Center sees the Chamber as a valuable asset to the community of McMinnville and surrounding towns. “The Chamber is the “Hub” of reliable support and information on what is happening in the local community by keeping everyone in tune. Gathering information, distributing it, connecting businesses to businesses, employee to employee and Chamber member to Chamber member”.

To see more of the specific services WVMC offers and how they support the Community, check out their website at: http://willamettevalleymedical.com

Oregon’s Oldest Dealership

In 1911 Ford Motor Company announced the first Ford made by Henry Ford, The Ford Model T. This was the same year that Gilbert Tilbury opened the Ford Motor Dealership in McMinnville Oregon. Mr. Tilbury owned and operated The Ford Company from 1911 to 1949 making a difference in the auto industry and his local community.

Chuck Colvin who had been working at Tilbury Ford, worked for Tilbury in 1949 and eventually bought the company in 1955. He was the owner of the company from 1955 to 1983 when his son, Mike Colvin bought over the company. Mike Colvin owned and operated Chuck Colvin Auto until 2011 when current owner and operator, Gary Edwards took over after a five-year period of buying over ownership. Gary joined Chuck Colvin’s dealership in 1987 right out of McMinnville High School and worked in several positions within the company. Gary is committed to making sure Chuck Colvin continues to do business with all the same discipline, honesty and integrity as it has from the beginning.

Chuck Colvin Ford through the years and with some changes has always remained a locally-family owned Auto Center. The commitment to their employees and customers have been just as strong as when it all started in 1911. Being Oregon’s longest standing privately owned car dealership, it is impressive to see the consistency remain the same with change of locations and change of ownership. It has always had the same mission and vision in mind. “Big Enough To Serve You, Small Enough To Care”. Chuck Colvin Auto offers a variety of new and used cars, parts, service, and financing. They are a full-service dealership, ready to serve the community the best way they can.

As a large supporter of the Non-Profits and the community of McMinnville, “Chuck Colvin is thankful they are able to support the local city events and activities. Being a part of a community that is connected, involved and thriving is a good place to be says Gary Edwards”. The McMinnville Chamber of Commerce is proud to have Chuck Colvin Auto as one of their oldest Chamber Members. “The Chamber is a huge part of the success and resources in the community. If it wasn’t for them, our community wouldn’t be the place it is today”. Visit www.ColvinAuto.com to learn more about them.

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McMinnville Oregon’s Bargain Market

In 1946, Jim Read started selling military surplus for deep discounts and Grocery Outlet has been wowing bargain-minded shoppers ever since.  Delivering thrilling deals is the company’s mission; in fact, it’s led the company to become the nation’s largest extreme value grocery retailer. Grocery Outlet, Bargain Market offers brand-name, quality products at up to 40-70% off conventional retail prices. They offer anything from antiseptics to fresh produce.

Grocery Outlets customers are bargain hunters, coupon clippers, working parents, thriving families, and those who love high-quality products at very low prices. This is what drove Ed and Sheryl Ryker in deciding to change their retail career path from Managers and Assistants to owning their own retail chain. The Ryker’s worked in multiple major chain retail stores in Washington for over twenty years and were ready for the next step. A friend shared with them the exciting opportunity of opening their own Grocery Outlet retail chain and how it would be a good time to move up in the retail ladder. As Sheryl Ryker says, “You gotta love retail and the difference everyday makes. Each day is new and completely different than the day before. If you love it, then retail is your thing”.

The Ryker’s decided to make the change and open a store themselves. Before making the move to McMinnville from Washington, the last major retail chain they worked for was Brown and Cole. Which originated in 1909 and is the oldest supermarket in Washington. In 2007, Ed and Sheryl were proud to call McMinnville Oregon’s Grocery Outlet their very own. Over the years they have continued to bring a welcoming and fun atmosphere to all who enter the store doors. A normal day as owners begins with Ed arriving early in the morning to work on the purchase orders and Sheryl to follow with the day to day logistics and marketing opportunities. Each day they make sure the store looks appealing, fresh, and that they are able to connect with the customers by bringing them the best value possible. “Serving others is our main drive and passion as owners and operators. When you are in the retail business, everyday is new and exciting with the chance to make a difference. From a customer who is overjoyed with all that you have to offer, to giving a child a sticker at the checkout stand”.

“McMinnville is a community with tons of volunteerism and a sense of commitment. It brings you a sense of calming peace being apart of this community as a business owner. A comforting, safe and welcoming place to live”. Being apart of a small thriving community gives us the opportunity to donate and be apart of the local high school, nonprofits and city events. The McMinnville Chamber of Commerce plays a huge role in making sure we are well informed and up to date. The Chamber is always there to help by making sure we succeed as business owners. We love Greeters! It is a great way to connect with others, hear about the local city gatherings or events, and gain resources and insights from other businesses.

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Five Galleries in One: 5,500 Square Feet of Variety at Lawrence Gallery

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When anyone asks Gary Lawrence if he’s been an artist all his life he replies, “not yet!” Even at 76 years of age, Lawrence still creates original works of art and enjoys sharing his passion and knowledge with anyone who visits the gallery. The story of the gallery starts in the late 1960’s when Lawrence, who lived in Willamina at the time, was one of 25 artists in Oregon selling sculptures made of metal and bronze from his home. Successful sales of his artwork prompted him to open his own gallery, adding sculpture, pottery and paintings from artists around the area. The gallery, located on highway 18, the busiest two-lane highway in Oregon, was first a country store then a community center.

The focus has always been on quality art from talented Northwest artists; today, it is also the home to many famous masters such as Salvador Dali, Picasso, Chagall and many more.  Little did Lawrence know that one day a woman from Salem would visit the gallery to buy a sculpture and end up marrying the sculptor. Signe Lawrence has her master’s degree in audiology and speech pathology and was working at Salem Audiology Clinic at the time of her visit to the gallery and fell in love with not only the artwork, but the man behind it all. She left her position at the clinic and started helping husband Gary in the studio. She began sculpting herself and has been in the gallery for 20 years now. “People travel from all over the world to visit our gallery, and we are privileged to be able to bring to the public amazing works of art,”says Signe.

The Lawrences love sharing their passion for the arts to collectors, artists, students and anyone who is interested in art or art history. The gallery aims at inspiring visitors, whether they are consumers, collectors or other artists looking for inspiration. “Gary has helped many artists make more from their art by spotting talent and providing guidance,” says Signe, smiling.  Lawrence Gallery hosts a variety of shows throughout the year with multiple media including sculpture of stone, fabricated and cast metalwork, jewelry, pottery, glass, paintings, historic Vatican pieces and more. The gallery also offers well-kept gardenpaths and water features that surround the outside of the building.

Visitors will find an outdoor sculpture garden on the property as well as Gary’s Northwest Japanese style art studio. In addition to the outdoor garden, visitors will be able to enjoy wine tasting in July when the wine bar re-opens. The gallery serves as a venue for special events and is home to millions of dollars’ worth of artwork that has enchanted and entertained guests since 1977.  The gallery is one-in-a kind, recognized by one of the most distinguished art magazines in the United States. Art and Antiques Worldwide Media, LLC selected Lawrence Gallery as one of only seven best places for building an art collection, and the only gallery chosen on the entire West Coast. The Lawrences’ wouldn’t have it any other way; they enjoy the area and the location of the gallery because “the energy and collaboration here is contagious. We support the community by hiring local contractors and in turn this community supports the gallery.  It’s a wonderful place to live,” says Signe. Next year, the Lawrence Galley celebrates its 40th Anniversary as one of the most outstanding galleries in the United States, located right here in the heart of Oregon wine country.

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“A Favorite Tasty Destination”

Ed Frazier’s professional career has been in many different industries throughout his career. He has worked in the commercial construction management industry in Alaska and Tigard Oregon for around 14 years. During his time in Alaska, Ed met his soon to be wife Susan while working Construction. In 1996, The Frazier’s began another professional milestone by owning the Service Master Franchise until 2007. After finishing this chapter of their career in field of a Service Master Franchise, Ed wasn’t ready to let go and be done with his love of work. Ed heard through the grapevine that the well-respected Wild Wood Café in downtown McMinnville Oregon was for sale. The Frazier’s ended up making the decision to be the new owners of Wild Wood Café in 2011.

Over the years Wild Wood Café has been under a few different ownerships and still has managed to keep its original taste and flavor. Ed and Susan Frazier were excited to be on the same train of those who started the favorite and famous restaurant spot in the heart of McMinnville, Oregon. Ed says, “why would you fuss with something that is working?”. From day one Ed has kept the Café the way it was handed off to him. From the menu, to the employees and to the fun welcoming atmosphere the Wild Wood Café brings to its familiar and new customers. Wild Wood is known for its Famous “Best Known French Toast”. This is one of their specialties. It is made from their homemade bread and homemade granola. It is a delicious delight for everyone to enjoy! Another favorite at Wild Wood Café is the The Michelbook Omelet.

The drive and passion of Wild Wood Café is to keep consistency, have good food and service. “If we take care of the customers then the customers will take care of us”, says Ed. One of the main goals Wild Wood strives after, “is to give all who enter the Café a great experience and a fun time doing it”. The best part of being a business owner is “when your business is successful, involved, well known all over”. A unique aspect to The Wild Wood Café today, is how the employees are a part of what makes the dining experience so fabulous. They are even included on the menu with their own entrees. The serves and cooks at Wild Wood are family.

A huge part of Wild Wood is how they love to serve the local college students in the community of McMinnville by being a part of the Linfield College Voucher program. This gives students who stay in the community during the holidays and summer breaks a chance to experience other food choices.

As a member of the McMinnville Community and a member of the McMinnville Area Chamber of Commerce, it has given Wild Wood the ability to build and keep strong connections with locals and other businesses in the area. “There is a sense of a pride you feel when you have support in your business”. Wild Wood knows they can always count on the Chamber of Commerce for valuable connections and network opportunities.

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Roots, Beyond Roots

Wanda Stenkamp loves to serve others. She started her career early on in the “ORARNG”, Oregon Army National Guard and continued with it for 23 years. During her time in the ORARNG, Wanda worked in the Field Medical Hospital 41st Infantry Brigade and completed her career as an (E7) Platoon Sergeant.

Along with her career experience in the ORARNG, she started her cosmetology journey by graduating from the McMinnville Beauty College in 1982. Her first big gig out of school was when she was hired by Iona Harris, owner of Studio of Hair Design. Iona took Stenkamp under her wing and encouraged her to follow after her passion of cosmetology and making one feel confident in themselves. Iona not only passed along her clients but also her reputation in the McMinnville community to Wanda.

Through the years Wanda has owned and operated her own business for over 26 years. She founded Professional Plus and has continued to grow her business by moving her salon and expanding it for 17 years. She closed Professionals Plus and founded Urbanbliss Luxury Salon in 2004. Wanda welcomes new guests to her schedule and she specializes in customizing your own individual “look” for you! From color correction, hair styling, cutting, or just helping you to pick a style or color that will compliment you best!

Wanda prides herself in bringing the best to the business. According to Stenkamp, “to be established in this industry, one needs to continually educated themselves in the current trends, attend hair shows and takes classes each year to help gain business”. When you do these things to help better yourself and your business,” what you measure will treasure and what you treasure will grow”. As a hair dresser, one of the most important things Wanda has seen is to, “keep consistency as a hair dresser for those your serve and to not bring apathy to your clients”. For Stenkamp, “the best part about being a hairstylist, is the relationships you build and the stories you get to hear. By building the relationships first and then creating a trust level with the client that no matter the situation, you will always take care of them through the thick and thin with service backed up with a guarantee”.

“The community of McMinnville and the greater area of Yamhill County is wonderful. There is a sense of respect you receive by this community as a business owner. Over the years she has seen The Downtown Association develop 3rd Street into greatness and change with now having so much to offer for the local community and visitors to enjoy. The McMinnville Downtown Association and The McMinnville Chamber of Commerce has made a huge difference”. She says, “by being a business owner and a member of The McMinnville Area Chamber of Commerce, it has given her a sense of pride to live in a town that is thriving, has remarkable history and truly wants to see you succeed by giving you the ability to grow and connect with other business owners”.

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“Nothing Bad Happens in a Knitting Store”

ORKnitSusan Wilcox is all too familiar with travelling. She’s worked as a broadcast television executive for many years and worked all over the United States for her job. Two years ago in the spring of 2014, Wilcox was told by a friend that Boersma’s Knitting Basket was up for sale. A beginner knitter herself, Wilcox enjoyed her fast-paced dream life in Chicago, she thought it would be even more fun to take the opportunity to live the life of a retailer in the heart of beautiful wine country. She ran the numbers, made spreadsheets and flew out to McMinnville a few months later, buying the store with the rest of the leftover inventory. She says the move from Chicago to McMinnville was easy and refreshing because city life was becoming too busy for her. The McMinnville community gave her a warm welcome when she opened Oregon Knitting Company on October 1, 2014.

Shortly after opening the store, Wilcox immersed herself in the community and started giving back by joining the Rotary Club of McMinnville. As a member of Rotary, Wilcox has been a part of the committee who votes on scholarships that provide financial aid to high school and college students. She has also helped with the program that gives dictionaries and encyclopedias to fourth graders on behalf of Rotary and often volunteers at the McMinnville Cooperative Ministries. “They call me the dishwashing queen,” she laughs and explains how she can wash dishes for over 400 people for breakfast and have volunteers home by 11 a.m. Wilcox enjoys the opportunity to give back to the community and tries to help out in any way she can, donating and aiding with educational programs, silent auctions and helping out those in need when she can. On top of all that, Oregon Knitting Co. also has a group that donates to charity projects throughout the year.

“There is a wonderful sense of community and friendship here. We have a knitting, and crocheting club that meets a few times a week. We enjoy teaching each other new techniques, sharing creative ideas and working on charity projects,” Wilcox says. This last Christmas, the club made hats for every Foster child in Yamhill County and is currently working on a project for women who are breast cancer survivors. One of the club’s most recent projects was making purple caps for babies to support and raise awareness for shaken baby syndrome. She says that the club is fun and harmless because, what could be bad in a knitting store? For Wilcox, another part of being involved is supporting other businesses by shopping local.

“Being a business owner and member of the chamber in this community is great because you get to meet and share concerns, connect and help other businesses,” says Wilcox. She also hopes that the community can continue to care for and preserve the authenticity of 3rd street. On the acknowledgement of the steady growth of McMinnville she says, “It doesn’t matter how large this town grows as long as the residents acknowledge what this town looks like from the outside. I hope children can come back to this place and still get the same small town atmosphere that they did growing up.” She also notes the need for Salem’s legislature to recognize the small business friendly initiative and wants her customers and the community to know that she is accepting of anyone who wants to come in to shop, learn or share information with her in regards to knitting and crocheting.

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At McMinnville Hearth and Barbeque, We’re Hot Stuff

MacBBQTwelve years ago, friends and business partners Wolfgang Sailler and Reiley Reid were networking at a business event in Salem when Reid realized the need for a store that carried stoves and barbeques in McMinnville. At the time there was only one other store that carried a few products and he and Sailler thought it would be a great business opportunity to open a store that carries wood, gas, and pellet, stoves, fireplaces as well as outdoor barbeque kitchens and accessories. According to Sailler, McMinnville was the ideal location because it is located in the center of two large cities; Portland and Salem. McMinnville Hearth and Barbeque opened in 2004 with the mission of making each and every installation of a stove or barbeque safe and as convenient as possible for customers.

Sailler notes that there is more than meets the eye in McMinnville. There is a mix of both traditional and edgy businesses as well as a strong community of small businesses who support each other and strive to provide customers with the best services and products for the area. McMinnville Hearth and Barbeque tries to be actively involved in the community by donating products to auctions for fundraisers and works with local organizations like YCAP by replacing old products in houses for families in need. Sailler and Reiley have also cooperated with the Grand Ronde Tribe Housing Department to deliver heating improvements to tribe members. They want customers to know that safety is the first priority when purchasing a heating appliance.

“We want our customers to use appliances correctly and that is why we educate our customers on the proper use of our products, regardless of what they buy,” says Sailler. “We provide an educational CD called ‘Burn Wise’ that instructs customers on how to use stoves,” he adds. McMinnville Hearth and Barbeque encourages do-it-yourselfers to come to the experts before trying to install products themselves and also suggests all homeowners to follow the law that passed in 2011 which prohibits non-EPA compliant stoves made before 1990 to be reinstalled in homes. This is important for those who are selling or remodeling homes, says Sailler. “For those who are building a new home or remolding an older one, it is important to know the laws regarding heat appliances for homes,” he says.

Sailler says residents of McMinnville need to be more involved in local policy in the future because people only pay attention to what is going on at the state and federal level. “It isn’t just about stoves and fireplaces, it is about the general public being educated,” says Sailler. The best part of owning this business, according to Sailler and Reid is being able to help customers with problems. “We get calls all the time from frustrated customers who want to give up and buy something new. Once we are able to fix a simple problem, their face lights up,” says Sailler. If you want to purchase a stove or barbeque at McMinnville Hearth and Barbeque, you know you’ll be taken care of. Rest assured, they’re “hot stuff.”

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At Accu-Tech Automotive, If It’s Broken, We’ll Fix It

Accu-TechShilo Couch grew up riding dirt bikes and started rebuilding their engines with his father and older brother when he was just 12 years old. His father, who owned a gas station in Carlton at the time, was always tinkering with and fixing up vehicles for friends and family and would teach Couch how to work on vehicles with him. Couch’s older brother opened an automotive shop after high school and inspired Couch to follow in his family’s footsteps. After graduating high school, he attended Universal Technical Institute in Arizona, where he studied automotive repair and received his Associates Degree in Automotive Technology. Later in 2001, he went on to become Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) Master Certified.

Couch enjoys the satisfaction of being able to help customers by fixing their broken vehicles and watching them leave with a smile. He will never pressure a customer into purchasing anything they don’t need and is fair with pricing. “I want to see customers drive off in a safe vehicle and I’ll always be honest. I don’t give up on vehicles just because there is a tough problem,” Couch says. He also enjoys creating relationships and making connections with his customers because Accu-Tech is a small business. “I like to know my customers on a personal level and treat them like family,” he says.

Couch strongly believes in the importance of family owned and operated businesses. “Small businesses are like families, we help each other out and are a great source of referrals for one another,” he says. He enjoys the events that McMinnville has because he says it creates a sense of a close-knit community. “Events like the Lemonade Day and Turkey Rama bring people together, and I think that is important,” Couch says. He notes that it is events like these that will help the McMinnville community grow stronger and continue to support small businesses in the future.

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Everyone Can Eat at Angie’s Kitchen

IMG_27001Angie Floratos has an auto immune disease and it took almost forty years of her life to realize she had to make a serious lifestyle change to be healthy. When one of her sons became seriously ill at age 15 with the same auto immune issues as her, she started to experiment with creating and baking gluten free recipes for family and close friends. Word got out of these recipes and baked goods and before long a small client base started to form. A few years later, Angie and her husband Judus moved from Lafayette to McMinnville because they were tired of commuting and wanted to be closer to the activities in which their kids were engaged. They enjoyed the “feel” of McMinnville and it wasn’t until years later that moving would provide a central location for many of their customers.

After moving, Angie and Judus saw the power of a small community when word of mouth spread like wildfire of Angie’s gluten free goodies. The Floratos’ opened Angie’s Kitchen in December of 2014 with the mission of providing an inclusive environment where there is something to offer everyone. Almost all of the high quality and whole food ingredients used in Angie’s kitchen are sourced from local businesses and have no gluten, no gums, peanuts, soy, oats and hydrogenated oils. “We are trying to shut down common misconceptions about the taste of gluten free food by simply offering samples. Try something and tell us if you still like it without all of those additional ingredients,” says Judus. Angie’s Kitchen also wants customers to know that they try their best to maintain and balance the nutritional flavors of their products while also providing high quality goods people can trust.

Angie’s Kitchen does its best to accommodate the requirements for those who have specific dietary needs and encourages customers to share their stories when they visit the kitchen. “We have people who come in and start to tear up because they haven’t been able to find food items that fit their dietary needs in the past,” says Judus. “We really encourage customers to come in and just talk to us. We want to meet people where they are and we don’t push them out of their comfort zone,” Angie explains. “If customers are nervous or timid about trying anything, we try to start them out slow and introduce one thing at a time,” she says. Angie’s Kitchen has a family style atmosphere and environment, with colors and decor pulled from Angie and Judus’ home kitchen. “We want people to feel like they are a part of the family, that is why the kitchen is completely open and our staff is willing to talk to you and answer any questions you have,” says Judus. Angie and Judus say they have found their niche in providing these products and intimate atmosphere to others.

Part of the reason they the Floratoss’ enjoy living in McMinnville is the sense of community. “We love the ability to walk everywhere. Downtown is just around the corner, the pool our boys swim at, even the grocery store. Everyone we meet is friendly and welcoming,” says Angie. Small businesses in McMinnville support each other and word of mouth travels quickly. “We know other business owners who refer their customers to us all the time,” says Judus. “That is truly the power of a small community,” he says. Part of what makes Angie’s Kitchen special is that there is something there for everyone, even if you aren’t a member of the gluten free community. All you have to do is just follow your nose and look out for the bright orange door on Northeast 11th street.

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At Wings & A prayer If We’re Home, We’re open

Barbara and Randy Coleman were at a 25th class reunion when they started talking to a couple who owned an alpaca farm. Their first thoughts were: “What’s an alpaca?” Their curiosity turned into a visit to their friend’s farm, which is where they fell in love with the animal that “just draws you in,” according to Randy .Neither Randy or Barbara were accustomed to farm life previously and thought this may be a new outlet for them. Fast forward 17 years and 100 alpacas later, and you have Wings & A Prayer Alpacas located on highway 99 in Amity. Randy explains the inspiration behind the name. He says: “Wings was the name of our first alpaca we bought and we thought, well, we will have Wings, and with a prayer, this might work out.”

Barbara-Defender-Olivia-Randy-OliverThe next years consisted of research from their friends, the internet, books and educational meetings with the Colombia Alpaca Breeding Association about raising and caring for alpacas. The Colemans now raise, sell and process the fiber of alpacas as well as sell and compost their remains to other local farms. They make yarn, clothing, decorative accessories, build feeders and shelters and sometimes sell the lean meat off of some of their animals to other farmers. “We like alpacas because they are an easy animal to raise. They don’t challenge fences, they  average 150 to 200 pounds and they are timid, you wait for them to approach you,” says Barbara. When asked the most rewarding part of owning an alpaca farm, both Barbara and Randy answer simultaneously, “We do it for the baby alpacas. It is so fun to watch them grow,” they say.

The Colemans say that the community is very supportive of their business, and cite  local shops that carry some of their products. “This community is unlike any other we have ever lived in. When we were in Canby, for example, we never felt involved or included. But McMinnville welcomed us with open arms and the residents here support small businesses,” says Barbara. The Colemans say that even though their farm is in Amity, they still feel included in many of the events McMinnville hosts throughout the year. “We are involved with the Thursday market and also support the sock brigade, an organization that donates alpaca socks to the troops.” says Randy. The Colemans explain that the special part of being involved is the networking opportunities.

“More growth in McMinnville is good. We enjoy meeting new people and other business owners because it opens doors for us and our business,” says Randy. Wings & A Prayer wants the community to know that they are open even when the sign isn’t lit. “If you come to our shop and we are home, we’re open. We’re almost always at the farm and anyone can stop by” says Barbara. Wings & A Prayer encourages people to stop by the farm to browse the shop, visit the alpacas or learn more about the lifestyle they offer.

 

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This idea was born from the Chamber’s new Priorities for 2016-2018.  Number one priority: Promote Our Members.

 

At the McMinnville Area Chamber of Commerce we have the pleasure to meet so many inspirational and amazing people that run a business with a unique mix of personality, passion, and professionalism.  So in an attempt to let people know about some of the amazing people we meet and work with every day, we’re bringing you interviews and insights that these business leaders shared with us.

Our goal is to provide these stories on a regular basis.  Our other goal is to make sure these stories are written by talented people with “fresh eyes.”  Most of the stories here were written by interns and volunteers.  Each article will be attributed to the author for both their professional development and our desire to encourage them in their pursuit of excellence.

The interviews are selected at random by the interviewer with minor input from Chamber staff.  Each article is approved by the business highlighted before being published here.  Contact information for the business is included and we encourage all readers to reach out to these great businesses and business leaders to get to know them personally.  Better yet, go be a customer and see for yourself how their passion serves their community!

 

At Encore, You’ll Always Come Back for More

 

 

 

10 years ago, Nikki Elliott was a stay at home mom with two little boys, married to a dedicated police officer who worked long hours. Although Elliott enjoyed being at home with her boys, she felt that God had additional plans for her. A fun summer project with her mother-in-law fixing up and reselling furniture out of her garage turned into the idea for Encore Home Furnishings. Elliot initially rented floor space in an antique mall and used her background and degree in computer programming to design a website to advertise inventory. After a few months of unexpected success, Elliott opened a small store in Bunn Village with a friend. Their business plan was to fill the gap in the marketplace between cheap thrift store furniture and expensive, brand new furniture, by selling gently-used consignments and new factory seconds.

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The Elliott Family, team behind Encore Home Furnishings

Within the first two weeks after opening, Encore sold half of its inventory and customers from as far away as Vancouver and Eugene were driving to McMinnville to buy furniture. This is when Elliott knew she was really on to something. Over the next seven years, Elliott became the sole proprietor and gradually expanded the business to include eight buildings in Bunn Village. She worked hard to refine her business model, bringing in new sources of factory seconds, outdoor furniture seasonally, and brand new mattresses and living room furniture made in the Northwest. In 2013 she moved the store across Bunn Road to a new location with 15,000 square feet and business continued to increase. In December of 2015 Elliott and her husband purchased the property and buildings at their new location, and are currently in the process of adding an additional 10,000 square feet to their location.

 

 

 

Elliott wants people to know that Encore is a family-owned and operated business, employing over 25 individuals (including her three kids who are homeschooled) and four local sub-contractors. Encore staff focus on providing customers with amazing service and always stand behind the products they sell. The store offers financing options and layaway, as well as delivery for customers within 250 miles of McMinnville. Encore is involved in the community by donating products to local schools and organizations, and often helps individual families as needs arise. Encore is different from other furniture stores because it carries brand name items priced at 40 to 80 percent off retail, and over half of their inventory changes each month.  They also keep their entire inventory updated online and loyal customers say that Encore goes “above and beyond.”

 

 

 

New and returning customers are greeted by friendly and helpful staff, often visiting the store for their weekly cookie and coffee fix and to see the newest inventory. Elliott says that she couldn’t have opened Encore without the support of the community, who recognizes the importance of small, family-owned businesses. “Businesses in McMinnville take care of each other. We all try to put our money back into the local economy, and do the best we can to help and support one another,” she says. Elliott also notes the importance of individuals to try to shop locally. “I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for the support of my family and the community, and if I hadn’t been willing to step out in faith and follow this amazing plan God had for my life.” Thanks to the thousands of customers over the years who have supported her business, Encore Home Furnishings has grown over the last ten years from Elliot’s garage to nearly 30,000 square feet in combined onsite and offsite storage and created over 25 jobs for the local economy.

 

 

 

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No Fancy Boxes Here, Just Honestly Good Chocolates

Dana-croppedDana Dooley has quite an impressive résumé. She has her Master of Business Administration from Stanford and worked for years as a marketing executive for several Silicon Valley firms. You might ask why someone in the technology field now owns a chocolate company. It was during a business trip in 1982 to Switzerland when Dooley fell in love with handmade chocolates. Shortly after her trip, she began making her own confections and sharing them with friends and family, who gave her raving reviews. A few years later, Dooley and her husband, who just received his degree in Oenology, decided to launch a chocolate business and start a winery, respectively, in the beautiful Willamette Valley. “Because what pairs better with chocolate than wine?” Dooley smiles when she explains how this pairing enhances both flavors of the chocolate and wine.

Dooley enjoys the synergy of coupling wine with chocolate and has partnered with nearly 70 local wineries to develop custom wine-friendly chocolates. Although Dooley and her husband frequently collaborate, neither of them is involved in the operations of the other spouse’s business. Why the name Honest? The name arises from one of the store’s core values: Honesty. “We are an ethical business who likes to be honest with our customers,” says Dooley. Her vision was to create handmade, affordable chocolates that don’t have to be dressed up in a fancy box to taste excellent.

 “We aren’t a factory so all of our products are fresh and hand-dipped,” she explains. Dooley wishes to express to her customers that this is not the type of chocolate shop where you can eat an entire box in one sitting. The business model for Honest was designed from the start to have a central kitchen supporting a number of retail and chocolate dipping locations. Part of her decision to move to the McMinnville area and open a chocolate business, which has expanded to locations in Carlton and Newberg, is because of the local agriculture. “The wonderful thing about this area is the ability to use local ingredients. Many of the nuts, fruits, salt and honey come from local providers around the Willamette Valley area,” she says.

Dooley says she enjoys how the McMinnville community is supportive of small business owners and often look out for and help one another. She enjoys the tight knit feel of McMinnville as well as the authenticity of downtown, but says that she would like to see more residents of McMinnville visiting the popular and well-known Third Street. “I would like to see more local residents visit the small boutiques and businesses on Third Street because we are a part of why downtown is so special,” she explains. Dooley also notes that if and when McMinnville grows, she believes it will evolve and fit whatever changes that occur.

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Photo credit Stephanie Beyer

“Your Day, Your Way.” Carolyn Smithrud Will Take You Just about Anywhere

One afternoon, Carolyn Smithrud was at a winery when she overheard a group of friends visiting McMinnville discussing who would drive them home that evening from the wine tasting. Smithrud struck up a conversation with the gentlemen who opted to stay sober and drive for the evening and a brilliant idea started to form. “I thought, well, I have a car and I have time,” says Smithrud, who was in-between jobs at the time. Wheels N Time was born shortly after Smithrud talked to the Chamber, close friends and past colleagues who encouraged and supported her idea to open a personal private transportation service in McMinnville.

After Smithrud’s past positions as the VP of Administration at Evergreen, Field Coordinator for the Ford Family Foundation and a member of Toastmasters International, she felt lost in the workforce and longed for something more. Her passion for customer service and love for the Willamette Valley led her to open Wheels N Time, where she not only is a driver, but also a tour guide. “I ask customers what their interests are, what they want to see and then make suggestions. I enjoy sharing my knowledge of the area with others,” explains Smithrud. Not only does she take groups on wine tours, but will also drive individuals to dinners on McMinnville’s famous 3rd street, to Lincoln City for the day or to the Portland airport. “It’s your day, so we do it your way,” she says.

Smithrud stresses the importance of being involved in the community as a small business owner. “It is important to network and meet people. Being connected is never a bad thing,” she says. Smithrud also says she wants people to know that she isn’t like a traditional taxi or Uber service; she is more personal and enjoys getting to know her customers. “I love what I do because it allows me to see the beauty of this area through others’ eyes. You never realize how lucky you are to live where you do until someone else shows you,” she explains.

Smithrud wants to see the McMinnville community build stronger bonds with surrounding towns like Yamhill, Carlton, Lafayette and Dayton. “The McMinnville community is already so strong. We can only grow stronger with the support of the communities around us,” she says. She says it is important to keep connected because you never know what doors or opportunities it will open for your business.

 

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Cindy Lorenzen’s Best Kept Secret

by Alexandra “Louie” Deraita

For more than 40 years, The Sage Restaurant  has served fresh soups, sandwiches and salads made from scratch every morning. On any given day you’ll see owner Cindy Lorenzen in the restaurant “playing hostess” as she calls it, talking to and serving customers with a smile. Nicknamed “McMinnville’s best kept secret,” this restaurant encourages an intimate atmosphere where customers feel like family. “Consistency, quality and excellent customer service,” Lorenzen explains, are the key reasons to why this small business is always bustling with friendly faces.

Cindy Lorenzen is no stranger to the McMinnville community. She opened up a video store in 1981 that expanded and turned into Video Yogurt Express and then went on to open Java Expresso in 1992, which was one of Oregon’s first drive-thru coffee shops and in 1995, Lorenzen opened Union Block Coffee. Her passion for creating relationships with her customers led her to purchase The Sage in 2011. “One of the main reasons I love McMinnville is the connections. This community is authentic and real. The people are friendly and willing to help each other.” Lorenzen, a long-time member of the McMinnville community says her favorite part of owning the restaurant is being able to help others. “I enjoy creating relationships with my customers and making them feel like family,” she says.

“What is special about a being a business owner is being able to see a need in the community and help address it,” explains Lorenzen. At the end of the day if there is a surplus of food, The Sage donates it to local soup kitchens and ministries to aid individuals and families in crisis “I see the need in this community and I try to help in any way I can,” says Lorenzen. In December, The Sage was selected as restaurant for December’s Macc Mob on behalf of the McMinnville Area Chamber of Commerce and donated 25 percent of their proceeds to Aden’s Toy Drive, a toy drive that raises money and receives donated toys to distribute at children’s hospitals.

“I hope to see strong business and community partnerships in McMinnville in the future. I want people to continue to help each other and see this town remain authentic,” says Lorenzen. She expresses that being a small business owner and helping others is one of the most rewarding feelings in her life. “As this community grows it can only become stronger and I hope those who visit McMinnville see that,” remarks Lorenzen.

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