City of Coeur d’Alene
Viking Construction Inc., SFD with garage, 3775 W. Pescador Drive, value $227,846, issued April 9
Viking Construction Inc., SFD with garage, 3851 W. Pescador Drive, value $186,179, issued April 9
Ultra Beauty, commercial-tenant improvement, 450 W. Wilbur, value $450,000, contractor James E. John Construction Company Inc., issued April 10
NYB L. L. C., commercial improvement-New York Bagel, 226 W. Ironwood Drive, value $60,000, contractor NRCC L. L. C., issued April 12
Moose Lounge, commercial-relocate kitchen/modify restroom, 401 E. Sherman, value $4,000, issued April 13
Big Lots, commercial-tenant improvement, 101 E. Appleway, value $150,000, contractor Skyward Construction Inc., issued April 16
City of Coeur d’Alene, commercial-water damage repair, 106 E. Homestead, value $18,248, contractor Ginno Construction, issued April 16
Hallmark Homes Inc., SFD with garage, 4429 W. Long Meadow Drive, value $174,306, issued April 16
Heart of the City Church, commercial-lobby/restroom remodel, 521 W. Emma, value $20,000, issued April 17
Viking Construction Inc., SFD with garage, 3684 W. Pescador Drive, value $127,772, issued April 18
Northwood Properties L. L. C., commercial-tenant improvement-WGI expand tenant space, 3882 N. Schreiber Way, value $67,000, contractor Aspen Homes & Development, issued April 18
Satay Bistro, commercial tenant improvement, 2501 N. Fourth, value $45,000, contractor Innovative Construction & Design, issued April 23
Viking Construction Inc., SFD with garage, 3456 N. Ranero Drive, value $179,463, issued April 25
Viking Construction Inc., SFD with garage, 3792 W. Pescador Drive, value $89,000, issued April 25
Atlas Homes L. L. C., SFD with garage, 6670 N. Delerue Drive, value $214,448, issued April 25
Atlas Homes L. L. C., SFD with garage, 6643 N. Cornwall, value $141,552, issued April 25
Coeur d’Alene Spine Clinic, commercial-repair vehicle damage, 3320 N. Grand Mill Lane, value $25,000, contractor Polin & Young, issued April 26
Aspen Homes & Development, SFD with garage, 6736 N. Delerue Drive, value $225,000, issued April 26
Habitat for Humanity North Idaho, SFD, 1522 E. Lucy Lane, value $77,581, issued April 27
Aspen Homes & Development, SFD with garage, 2636 W. Renoir Drive, value $180,000, issued April 27
City of Hayden
Charles Lempesis, single family residence, 8913 Ramsgate Lane, value $218,306, contractor Bird Brothers Construction, issued April 9
Hallmark Homes Inc., single family residence, 2840 Cranberry Lane, value $244,119, issued April 12
George W. Peterson, single family residence, 11042 Cattle Drive, value $373,995, contractor Monarch Development Inc., issued April 13
Viking Construction Inc., single family residence, 8544 Salmonberry Loop, value $216,885, issued April 9
Hallmark Homes Inc., single family residence, 8607 Courcelles Loop, value $196,117, issued April 12
Rosenberger Construction L. L. C., single family residence, 11416 Cattle Drive, value $360,000, issued April 13
Richard & Carol Davis, commercial duplex. 1182 A & 1182 B Kyler, value $405,633, contractor Thompson Homes, issued April 19
Viking Construction Inc., single family residence, 8665 Salmonberry Loop, value $190,607, issued April 23
Marmon Properties L. L. c., commercial addition-install awning, 9883 Government Way, value $3,578, contractor BMW Construction, issued April 27
City of Post Falls
Victory Homes, SFR tract house, 3241 N. Treaty Rock Blvd., value $302,400, issued April 4
Legacy House Assisted Living, commercial alteration, 1136 E. Mullan, value $1,500, issued April 2
Hallmark Homes Inc., SFR tract house, 12420 W. Devonshire, value $209,381, issued April 10
Hallmark Homes Inc., SFR tract house, 12321 W. Moorefield, value $154,726, issued April 10
Hallmark Homes Inc., SFR tract house, 12421 W. Moorefield, value $124,356, issued April 10
Upper Columbia Corporation, commercial alteration, 1486 W. Seltice Way, value $200,000, issued April 12
Inland Northwest Developments, SFR tract house, 2071 N. Travis Court, value $80,319, contractor CDA Construction, issued April 11
Inland Northwest Developments, accessory building, 2071 N. Travis Court, value $13,172, contractor CDA Construction, issued April 11
Mort Construction, multi-family, 52 N. Cedar, value $836,936, issued April 20
Hallmark Homes Inc., SFR tract house, 8217 N. Woodworth, value $131,557, issued April 18
Hallmark Homes Inc., SFR tract house, 8103 N. Crown Pointe, value $190,484, issued April 18
Hallmark Homes Inc., SFR tract house, 12421 W. Moorfield, value $124,356, issued April 18
Copper Basin Construction, SFR tract house, 2121 E. Knapp Drive, value $141,612, issued April 16
Brian Rikard Construction, SFR tract house, 1164 E. Rowdy Lane, value $124,677, issued April 20
JLR Developments Inc., SFR tract house, 890 N. Harlequin Drive, value $158,432, issued April 17
Copper Basin Construction, SFR tract house, 2234 E. Knapp Drive, value $130,446, issued April 26
Hallmark Homes Inc., SFR tract house, 12341 W. Moorfield, value $124,356, issued April 26
Hallmark Homes Inc., SFR tract house, 8279 N. Woodworth, value $154,726, issued April 24
Benway Quality Homes Inc., SFR tract house, 1181 N. Syringa, value $201,093, issued April 26
Copper Basin Construction, SFR tract house, 1283 N. Ewell Court, value $193,823, issued April 26
Lawson Homes Inc., SFR tract house, 840 W. Wheatland, value $175,249, issued April 27
Northwestern Builders Corporation, SFR tract house, 3806 N. Nike Court, value $134,103, issued May 2
Copper Basin Construction, SFR tract house, 2124 E. Knapp Drive, value $100,281, issued May 4
Baines-Bellagio Investments L. L., SFR tract house, value $140,538, contractor Medallie Homes L. L. C., issued May 4
City of Rathdrum
Homes By Jim Taigen, single family residence, 13045 N. Reward Loop, value $150,058, issued April 13
Glacier Homes, single family residence, 8661 W. Yosemite, value $134,646, issued April 25
Glacier Homes, single family residence, 8740 W. Yosemite, value $134,646, issued April 26
Golf Club at Black Rock, commercial structure, 18074 S. Rockford Pines Road, Coeur d’Alene, value $4,000, issued April 13
Terry L. Wall, single family residence, 735 S. Bushwacker Road, Coeur d’Alene, value $393,322, issued April 9
Jerald P. & Barbara A. Beha Trust, single family residence, 8200 W. Spirit Lake Road, Spirit Lake, value $219,610, issued April 11
Acme Materials Construction, commercial addition, 8849 W. Wyoming, value $20,000, contractor Interstate Concrete & Asphalt, value $20,000, issued April 17
Aspen Holdings L. L. C., single family residence, 8673 N. Stable Trace Court, Hayden, value $274,697, issued April 17
Girl Scouts of Eastern Washington, commercial structure, 22799 S. Four Echoes Road, Worley, value $60,300, contractor Shelter Associates, issued April 26
Bradley S. Moss, single family residence, 19123 Treend Road, Post Falls, value $563,384, issued April 27
Coeur d’Alene Chamber of Commerce
THURSDAY, JUNE 7
100-Minute Reception: Join the chamber in celebrating 100 years of success with these first Thursdays of the month, 100-Minute Wine & Cheese Receptions. The receptions will be held at the chamber building from 5-6:40 p.m. (100 minutes). Open to members in good standing only, the 100-Minute will be hosted by the Decade Sponsor with each month being a themed program. This month’s Decade Sponsor is Coeur d’Alene Insurance and will celebrate the ’80s decade theme. There will be fine wine and food, good company, prizes and giveaways. Information: Marilee, (208) 415-0111
FRIDAY, JUNE 8
2nd Friday ArtWalk: Every second Friday from April to December, stroll through beautiful Downtown Coeur d’Alene and enjoy local and nationally acclaimed artists. Visit supporting galleries, shops, restaurants and businesses with your friends and family. Come and join us from 5-8:00 p.m., just follow the yellow balloons! Information: Cheryl, (208) 292-1629.
TUESDAY, JUNE 12
Upbeat Breakfast: June’s Upbeat Breakfast speaker will be Colonel Paul H. Guemmer, Commander 92nd Air Refueling Wing, Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash. Upbeat Breakfast occurs the second Tuesday of every month at The Coeur d’Alene Resort. On average, about 150 members attend making it one of the most popular networking events in our community. Trade tables allow members to display their business and speak briefly about it to the group. The program features a different speaker each month, highlighting various topics of interest. With a reservation, the cost is $14 and includes breakfast and coffee. Reservations are due at noon the Friday before the breakfast. This month’s sponsor is Inland N.W. Blood Center. Information: Brenda, (208) 415-0110.
FRIDAY-SATURDAY, JUNE 15-16
Car d’Lane: The annual Car d’Lane Classic Car Show and Cruise brings hundreds of pre-1975 vehicles to beautiful Coeur d’Alene. Around 850 cars cruise the downtown streets on the Friday night prior to the show. Information: Gay, (208) 415-0116
THURSDAY, JUNE 14
Women Creating Success Conference: Coeur d’Alene Chamber is hosting a full day Women’s conference that is both educational and motivating to today’s business woman. Held at the Best Western Coeur d’Alene Inn, we anticipate more than 200 attendees. Don’t miss your chance to be part of this exciting and informative day. The cost is $45 for chamber members and $65 for non-chamber members. Information: Marilee, (208) 415-0111
SUNDAY, JUNE 24
Ironman Coeur d’Alene: Ironman Coeur d’Alene starts off with a two-loop swim in beautiful Lake Coeur d’Alene. The bike course takes athletes through rural North Idaho and the run course, known for its spectator support, is the highlight of the race. Volunteer or race information: Michelle, (208) 415-0106
THURSDAY, JUNE 28
Business After Hours: Join us for June’s Business After Hours, from 5-6:30 p.m. Thursday, June 28, at Apollo Spas, located at 348 Bosanko Ave., Ste. D, in Coeur d’Alene. Food and beverages will be provided as well as the opportunity to win some great prizes! Information: Brenda, (208) 415-0110
Post Falls Chamber of Commerce
FRIDAY-SUNDAY, JUNE 1-3
Post Falls Days. Enjoy events around town including the parade on Saturday at 11 a.m.
TUESDAY, JUNE 19
Post Falls Chamber Takin’ Care of Business Luncheon and River City Leadership Academy Class of 2012 Graduation ceremony: Red Lion Templin’s. Register online at www.postfallschamber.com by Friday, June 15. Cost is $14 per person. Doors open at 11:15 a.m.
THURSDAY, JUNE 21
Post Falls Chamber Business After Hours: Northwest Specialty Hospital — 5-6:30 p.m.
FRIDAY, JUNE 22
20th Annual Greater Post Falls Open golf tournament: Highlands Golf Course — 1:30 p.m. shotgun start. Information: Post Falls chamber, (208) 773-5016.
Congratulations to all our local graduates. Having judged the PFHS and CHS senior projects, I am encouraged and amazed by our youth. We are in good hands.
According to the calendar, summer will officially arrive on June 20. However, according to most of our visitors coming through our doors, “summer” is here and the gates are open to North Idaho.
Post Falls will start the season off with our annual parade and Post Falls Days the first weekend in June. Our guest of honor will be Jerry Lyon, Citizen of the Year, leading the Saturday morning parade beginning at 11 a.m.
The Post Falls chamber is pleased to host our 20th Annual Golf Tournament on June 22 at 1 p.m. at the Highlands Golf Course. A Red Neck “Hole in One” will take place just prior to the shot-gun start where 100’s of golf balls will be dropped from a crane over the greens. The ball that goes in the hole will win half the proceeds. Golf balls can be purchased at the chamber for just $20 and you need not be present to WIN. We welcome golfers of every skill level to participate and proceeds benefit local programs and projects that support economic development, tourism and business education.
We are accepting applications for the 2013 River City Leadership Academy. The academy is a two-part program designed for professionals to explore and discover Post Falls, Kootenai County and Idaho treasures. Participants learn about current issues, hot topics and opportunities that affect us as citizens and business leaders. In addition to the 80 hours of community exploration, the Post Falls chamber is proud to provide 16 hours of customized classroom training led by a personal development coach and certified facilitator. Our goal is for each “business professional” to gain leadership skills within themselves and then lead others. Application deadline is June 7. Program runs September 2012 to June 2013. Please request more information at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Post Falls chamber will host a Tapas Contest for local chefs in July, in preparation for our “Tapas and Tailgating” party in September. More than $3,000 in prize money is up for grabs, so contact us for an invitation to participate. Information: email@example.com
Several businesses will celebrate grand openings, anniversaries and special milestones in our community in the month of June. I encourage our readers to visit our website for weekly updates as to what is going on where, and join us! Information: www.postfallschamber.com
This year is the Chambers Centennial Celebration and the Chamber’s Business Development Committee is focusing on the positive segments and businesses in our area. This month’s focus on manufacturing was written by committee member Vickie Isakson. Thank you Vickie.
— Steve Wilson,
Coeur d’Alene Chamber of Commerce
Manufacturing is not dead! As a matter of fact, it’s the reverse. The United States produces more goods than any other country in the world — more than China — but with less than half the workers. We also have a more diverse economy than China. What’s shrinking is manufacturing’s share of total U.S. employment. The rise in productivity is the blame, and the gains have been immense.
Increased automation, the adoption of LEAN technologies and higher skills levels explain much of the increased productivity. In addition, during the recession, manufacturers used that opportunity to shed some of the least productive workers, and many manufacturers have added machines instead of workers in the last couple of years. The good news is that businesses are starting to become more confident about the economic conditions, which could lead to an increase in hiring. We are already recouping some of the jobs lost in our region (currently at 2004-2005 levels).
Many individuals may not understand how important our economic attitude toward manufacturing as a whole is to economic development, which is why the Chamber’s President, Darin Hayes, made it his goal to move everyone in the direction of “focusing on the positive.” The energy we have had in our community in recent years to work toward reversing the negative perceptions that the manufacturing industry has dealt with for many years is definitely a step in the right direction. Much credit for that can be given to our local Manufacturer’s Consortium, Jobs Plus, Inc., and the many citizens who understood the need for and supported the building of the new Regional Technical Center — KTEC. Expanding manufacturing in our local area, region and statewide is truly the bread and butter of economic development.
Manufacturing firms are especially valuable to the economy because, when they export goods, they bring back to their communities much of the wealth earned from sales around the country and the world. Growth in manufacturing also fuels other sectors, creating jobs and investment in non-manufacturing sectors, which play an important role in diversifying our economy — the key to having a healthy economy.
To help our local area continue to focus on the positive, the Coeur d’Alene chamber is bringing back the CEO Luncheon series. We want those businesses that are doing well to share their secrets to success with all of you! We are kicking off the series on June 7 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Best Western Coeur d’Alene Inn with L.A. Aluminum Casting Company, a business who “melted” their way right through the recession. L.A. Aluminum is a single source manufacturer involved in melting, heat-treating and machining. They managed to obtain new contracts, expand their business and hire new employees during the depths of the great recession. This is just one of many great examples of the gems we have right here in our backyard that is helping us pull out of this recession.
For more information about the CEO Luncheon series, please contact Brenda Young at the Coeur d’Alene chamber — (208) 415-0110 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Vickie Isakson
OK, Mr. or Mrs. Businessperson. Imagine hanging out your shingle a quarter of a century ago with an initial budget of $300,000.
You work hard and begin to see the fruits of your labor, and in Year 2, your budget is again $300,000.
Year 3? Yep: $300,000.
And 25 years after you opened, after you’ve sold millions of dollars in products and fattened the corporate coffers, your budget is still $300,000.
Since Dennis Wheeler, Tom Richards and Duane Hagadone launched Jobs Plus, Inc., in 1987, directors of the economic development agency have stuck adamantly to the most fiscally responsible model imaginable. Forget for a moment the many millions of payroll dollars generated by the 5,445 jobs from 93 companies Jobs Plus has brought to North Idaho over that 25-year span; think instead about the $54 million in property taxes those companies paid in 2011 alone. Put another way, the roughly $300,000 Jobs Plus spent last year brought in $54 million in property taxes, a tidy 1,608 percent return on investment.
Those tax dollars gird the region’s infrastructure. The more corporate tax dollars flow into the pots of cities, highway districts, the county and others, the less pressure there is on residential property taxpayers.
That’s why Jobs Plus’s braintrust has always felt comfortable asking for public participation in the funding process, said Steve Griffitts, the agency’s president since 2003. But unlike many other public-private economic development models around the country, Jobs Plus doesn’t rely primarily on tax dollars for its funding.
“We’re happy and grateful for it, but we aren’t wholly dependent on it,” he said. Griffitts estimated that nationwide, most public-private economic development entities receive 70 percent public tax dollars and 30 percent funds from private donations. With Jobs Plus, 75 percent of its funding comes from the private sector — a staggering ratio made possible in part because of strong corporate support and the founders’ vision to never rely too heavily on tax dollars, which can diminish at the switch of an economy’s momentum.
Since its inception, Jobs Plus has benefitted most from these private-sector supporters:
Avista Utilities, $425,000
Jacklin Land & Investments, $368,000
Hagadone Corporation, $345,500
Kootenai Health (Kootenai Medical Center), $246,000
The Spokesman-Review, $160,000
Idaho Forest Industries, $158,000
Interstate Concrete/Central Pre-Mix, $126,500
Coeur d’Alene Mines, $105,000
For comparison, North Idaho Business Journal examined public records to see how the largest local taxing entities have supported Jobs Plus over the years. Here’s what we found.
1987, $100,000 spread over four years
HAYDEN — Area mayors aren’t the only politicians showing a little love to local businesses.
Gov. Butch Otter flew into the act by visiting Unitech Composites, Inc., on April 30 at the company’s site next to Coeur d’Alene Airport/Pappy Boyington Field.
Unitech is a cutting edge designer and manufacturer of composite structures in commercial and military aerospace markets. While its employees and the products they produce are cutting edge, Unitech’s facilities aren’t. Hence a visit from the head of the state, as well as Rep. Frank Henderson and Panhandle Area Council Director Jim Deffenbaugh.
“Thank you for your hard work,” Otter told an assembly of executives and employees. “Thank you for your belief in Idaho.”
It’s a belief that might be put to the test.
Unitech President Rick Hundley raved about the gubernatorial visit, which was far more than a cameo appearance for a photo op and a warm handshake or two.
“I think it was outstanding that he made time in his schedule,” said Hundley, who oversees all aspects of Unitech’s operations and financial performance. “It was great that we had him well over an hour of his valuable time.”
That time may prove valuable for North Idaho’s overall economy.
Unitech, with 120 employees and an annual payroll of $8 million, is braced for a boom, Hundley said. In addition to other contracts, existing work supplying composites for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and, effective May 21, the A35 Airbus has Unitech literally bursting at the seams. Hundley estimated that the 30-year-old Idaho-grown manufacturer is poised to double its workforce in the next year or so — but there’s a drawback. An 80,000 square-foot one.
“We have to look for facilities that will accommodate our growth,” Hundley said.
And that’s one big reason the governor was visiting.
“He had some ideas that he shared with our team that could provide a facility for us,” said Hundley, emphasizing that “we’re not asking for anything free. We’re simply asking for a way to get into modern facilities that will accommodate growth in a highly competitive industry.”
Unitech’s lease on its existing facility expires in the third quarter of 2015, Hundley said, but the company can’t wait that long to chart its future.
“Across the border, they’re reaching out to us,” he said of Washington. “So are others. We want to stay here and grow our base here. We’ll see if the state and regional powers can support that growth.”
Hundley said one of the greatest assets of Unitech’s current home is its people.
“I’m extremely impressed by the leadership team and the workforce here in Northern Idaho,” he said, applauding in particular the strong work ethic and dedication of Unitech’s employees.
The governor’s North Idaho spokesperson, Katie Brodie, heaped praise on Unitech and said the tour helped her realize how insufficient its facilities are, particularly with another big contract potentially on the way by the end of May.
Asked to put into her own words what message the governor wanted most to impart, Brodie grinned.
“We give a rip that you’re here,” she said.
So does Deffenbaugh of Panhandle Area Council.
Deffenbaugh explained that because Unitech’s lease with the company’s original owners doesn’t expire for another three-plus years, PAC’s most powerful punch has to be pulled a little bit. The Council can bond to build a facility and then lease it near the airport because it’s public property, but Unitech’s request for 100,000 square feet has some complications. The sale of bonds, he said, isn’t an appropriate funding mechanism for building structures in phases, which is what Unitech would prefer.
“I can’t have a half-empty building,” Deffenbaugh said.
But Deffenbaugh, who has been aware of Unitech’s growing pains for the past year and a half, said nobody’s giving up on this valuable employer. Empire Airlines, another burgeoning airport-based business that needed more space and was being heavily recruited in Washington, stayed in the Coeur d’Alene area when a similar build to lease proposal came together. And with the governor’s office directly involved, Deffenbaugh expects to put up a good fight.
“There’s no question they’re a key player,” Deffenbaugh said of Unitech. “In my mind we’re doing everything we can to keep them.”
COEUR d’ALENE — Professorial, soft-spoken and relaxed, Bill Jhung could have been lecturing on the benefits of Transcendental Meditation rather than the challenges of developing small businesses.
But well into his presentation before 59 business professionals recently, Jhung asked a simple question. It had the impact of a cannon blast in a confessional.
“Who had an exceptional experience with a business in the past month?” he asked simply.
Only one hand went up.
That’s when Bill Jhung had his audience’s complete attention.
In the lexicon of the director of the Idaho Small Business Development Center at North Idaho College, two words rule. One is “spark.” The other is “gem.”
Where he senses one or the other, Bill Jhung’s temperature rises.
He wants yours to, as well.
During his two-hour presentation at the Kroc Community Center, Jhung adroitly laid out the foundation of creating a successful business and ensuring it flourishes. To help him personalize the path to success, three owners gave brief talks on how Jhung and his fellow coaches have helped their businesses boom. Skip Meyer owns HighPoint Medical in Coeur d’Alene, a thriving medical billing and collections company. Doug Larson owns Alternative Molding Concepts in Post Falls, a manufacturing firm that has doubled revenues every year since it opened in 2007. And J.R. Shepard owns Lone Wolf Distributors, a North Idaho-based gun accessories business with its trigger finger on a nationwide customer base.
All three raved about the quality of instruction and coaching from Jhung’s team, whose clients grow 700 percent faster than an average Idaho business. Each was selected because he had a “spark,” or perhaps his business was a “gem.” Translated: There was something about them that, with a little help, could separate them dramatically from the pack of mediocrity in which most businesses are mired. Each was now routinely providing exceptional experiences for customers. Each had proven to be an enemy of the average.
And that’s what North Idaho needs more of, Jhung says. Leaders with spark, businesses that are gems, to grow from local to regional to national and perhaps even to global; to leave mediocrity behind and never look back.
“I’m suggesting we have these gems, hundreds of them, all around us in North Idaho,” Jhung told his crowd.
The challenge is identifying them, digging them up and dusting them off. They have potential — tons of it — but might be struggling in present time.
In Jhung’s world, explaining what makes a gem or a spark is as slippery as explaining why something qualifies as art. But in both cases, you know it when you see it.
“The leader, the business model have something,” he said. “They should be doing better. They could be doing better… The leader has a spark, just a little bit of something. They’re bleeding red, and they shouldn’t be.”
Easier to identify are the gems that already have sparked their way to success, including a local paint contractor Jhung introduced to the crowd who has expanded his business to three states. Others are members of his elite coaching staff. While Jhung is the only full-time employee at the SBDC, the staff is comprised of business professionals who are either part-time or pure volunteers. One of the volunteers, for instance, is Dale Rainey, who has founded 12 companies in the past 25 years. Every one of them, Rainey said, was profitable from Day One.
Jhung’s mission is to create “a pipeline of gems, to build a pipeline so we can bring the gems up to capacity.” That, in turn, will accelerate healthy economic growth throughout the region. The spark of one business booming can’t be underestimated, he said.
“Other businesses are going to get the benefit — the overflow, the multipliers,” Jhung said. “Building a partnership for a gem pipeline to improve the economy in North Idaho; we just think this is the right thing to do.”
Do you know a local entrepreneur or a business with terrific potential that hasn’t yet been realized? Contact Bill Jhung, director of the Idaho Small Business Development Center at North Idaho College: 769-3284, email@example.com
And how to apply Chances are you have read plenty of advice about how to run a business. It’s easy to find helpful hints and inspiring success stories. But what about the mistakes you should take care to avoid?
As a banker I’ve seen well-intentioned, capable small business owners face some of the same challenges in a wide range of fields. To help you learn from their experiences, I’d like to share with you the six biggest lessons these business owners have revealed to us. Each of the six missteps are preventable, from strategic decision-making to everyday banking:
1. Going it alone. Some entrepreneurs trust only themselves, a partner, or a spouse when facing key decisions. However, it’s best to include at least three other people in your decision-making: an attorney, a CPA, and a financial adviser or banker. This team of advisers should be dedicated to helping you succeed and communicating with each other to accomplish this goal. Without their specialized expertise you may not have the experience you need to understand all your options and choose the right path.
2. Wearing all the hats. “If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself” may sometimes be true, and for a cash-strapped start-up it’s certainly cheaper. But as your business grows, it’s essential to get help. Responsibilities such as bookkeeping, taxes, and payroll take up time you could spend serving your customers. Even more importantly, getting them wrong can be dangerous. Hiring a professional not only helps prevent errors, but shifts much of the risk to someone else.
3. Keeping your head down. Focus and dedication are watchwords for the successful entrepreneur. But business owners also need to make time to seek wisdom in the wider world. For example, some business owners may not be aware that there’s a fairly simple way to get their website ranked higher on Internet searches. If you are seeking wisdom every day this is the kind of useful information you will find. Research and planning for the future can seem like secondary concerns, especially when you’re not sure where to go for information. Whether your quest for knowledge includes online research, trade shows, Chamber meetings, or networking with peers, it’s a vital investment to make. Otherwise you risk missing out on ways to improve your business, such as funding opportunities for small businesses or educational resources to help you tackle tomorrow’s challenges.
4. Running lean on cash. Small businesses need at least three months of cash flow in reserve to be ready for seasonal fluctuations or the inevitable dry spell. It is often difficult to do so, especially if you developed frugal habits when you just were getting started. Making a commitment to put cash away monthly can help, and so can a line of credit. Think of it as a sort of insurance policy: if you don’t make the investment, the results could be devastating.
5. Avoiding credit applications. This mistake is a close cousin to the one above. Minimizing your debt may be a good goal for your personal life, but most businesses will require some level of borrowing capacity at some point. Applying for credit before you actually need it, and making a point of tapping your credit regularly and repaying promptly, will help you build a solid credit history and a source of ready cash when you do need it. many cases, if you wait until you actually need credit it can be harder to get.
6. Combining accounts. Not separating business and personal accounts is a common error. It’s an easy one to make when you’re starting out and want to “keep it simple.” However, co-mingling your credit cards and bank accounts makes it nearly impossible to get a sense of your business cash flow. It’s even worse for doing your taxes, let alone justifying business expenses in case of an audit. Establishing dedicated business accounts lets you start building a credit history in the business’ name, which can make it easier to secure financing.
Do any of these sound familiar? To avoid these and other pitfalls, take a long look at the way you work, and make sure you are following business practices that will keep your business headed towards success.
Kristi Hagan, manager for Wells Fargo’s Business Banking Center in Coeur d’Alene, has more than 20 years experience in financial services. She can be reached at (208) 769-1074 or Kristi.L.Hagan@wellsfargo.com.them to your business
Travel is big business, and business is so good the president has jumped aboard. In May the Obama administration announced its National Travel and Tourism Strategy, making selling travel a national priority.
The goal is simple: Attract 100 million international visitors annually by the end of 2021. This move also recognizes the travel and tourism industry as a fundamental contributor to local and national economies.
According to the U.S. Travel Association, since the jobs recovery began the industry has created more than 250,000 new jobs, outpacing growth in other industries. Travel and tourism support more than 14 million American jobs (includes 7.4 million directly in the travel industry and 6.7 million in other industries), contributing $1.9 trillion to the economy and $118 billion in tax revenue. By some estimates, each household would pay $1,000 more in taxes without the annual tax revenue generated by this industry.
More facts about the economic impact of travel and tourism:
• Direct spending on leisure travel by domestic and international travelers totaled $526 billion and generated $82 billion in tax revenue in 2010.
• Three out of four domestic trips (about 1.5 billion or 77 percent) are for leisure purposes.
• Top purposes for domestic travel in order are (1) visiting relatives; (2) shopping; (3) visiting friends; (4) rural sightseeing; and (5) beaches.
Regarding business travel:
• Direct spending by domestic and international travelers, including related business expenditures while traveling, totaled $233 billion in 2010.
• U.S. residents logged 448 million trips for business purposes in 2010, with more than one third (35 percent) for meetings and events.
• For every dollar invested in business travel, businesses benefit from an average of $12.50 in increased revenue and $3.80 in new profits.
The travel industry is currently ranked as the No. 1 U.S. export (growing while export of goods fell during first quarter 2012) and represents 2.7 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product. Annual international arrivals in the U.S. at last measure numbered 59.7 million, including 26.4 million from overseas markets. One third of those visitors are from Canada or Mexico.
Disney cruises aside, this is very much a small business industry. Ninety-nine percent of travel and tourism industry firms are small to medium sized businesses with 500 or fewer employees. One out of nine U. S. jobs is linked to travel and tourism, ranking the industry at five of the top 10 private industry employers.
The industry is leading the way to economic recovery. The World Travel and Tourism Council has advised member nations to use the industry to advantage by adopting “smart policies” for visas and in other areas to encourage tourism as a stimulus for job growth.
Sources of direct travel spending in U.S.:
$188.7 billion: Food services
$140 billion: Public transportation
$136.3 billion: Lodging
$129 billion: Auto transportation
$83.4 billion: Recreation/amusement
$81.4 billion: Retail
(Total $758.7 billion in 2010)
Source: U.S. Travel Association
COEUR d’ALENE — Some run out of steam in four months.
So when the Robb family celebrates the Iron Horse Bar and Grill’s 40th anniversary on June 2, they have a deep understanding of — and even deeper appreciation for — what it’s taken to get this far.
“It wasn’t brains so much as absolute luck,” says owner Tom Robb, now 71.
While there has certainly been a kind twist or two of fate over those four decades, Robb is practicing humility. As a former business instructor at North Idaho College and as a manager, he knew very well how to launch a successful enterprise. It starts with people, and it ends with people.
The story of the Iron Horse officially began when Tom had lunch with Phil Graue and bandied about Tom’s idea of “this Fourth and Sherman thing.” Next up was Barb Renner, who was brought into the circle that became Iron Horse’s original three owners.
“Barb knew the food thing real good,” Tom says, “and Phil knew all the dances with bankers. Plus Phil had some money and I didn’t.”
Now, 40 years later, Tom and his 45-year-old son Aaron acknowledge that people got them to this enviable place of overseeing a business that has held up well even under the assault of a lengthy recession.
“We’ve been saying it all along: It’s our employees who bring us success,” says Aaron, a high school football star at Gonzaga Prep who then played at Notre Dame.
At Iron Horse, none of the employees has a title — not even Aaron and Tom.
“I don’t mean any disrespect, but someone will open a little lunch counter and say they have an executive chef,” says Tom. “We’ve never had a chef. We have a bunch of people here who have been with us a long time, and that’s that.”
A bunch of people stay at Iron Horse a long time in part because of one of Tom’s top business principles.
“We never lay off anybody,” he says of the 60 or so employees. “If they do a good job for us, they know they’re not going to get laid off when business slows down a little bit. We might have to reduce their hours at times, but they’ll still be working.”
That’s not just the right thing to do — it’s good business, Tom believes. While Iron Horse employees have a strong sense of job security and reciprocate with loyalty and hard work, Iron Horse benefits by having an experienced, highly trained staff ready for the busiest times of the week or year. And as Aaron points out, having long-time staff builds stronger relationships with Iron Horse’s customers, many of whom are local residents.
Customers have been fond of Iron Horse ever since Tom opened the doors at 407 E. Sherman Ave. on June 2, 1972. Admitting that
“I’m bigger on yesterday than I am tomorrow,” Tom Robb relishes talking about how luck and hard work paved the way for a success story.
With Renner and Graue, Robb bought the dining room — previously the Manor House Restaurant — for $38,000 in April 1972. After extensive remodeling, they opened the restaurant on June 2. Expansion quickly occurred in leaps and bounds — especially leaps.
“Here we had a full-service restaurant at 407 Sherman that could sell beer and wine but not liquor,” he says. “Then, in August or September, we bought the Brunswick Cafe at 411 Sherman for $53,000. That had a full liquor license.”
But what Iron Horse didn’t have was the space in between. Pines Bakery, owned by Willard Largent, occupied 409 Sherman, and Robb envisioned it as an ideal place to sell liquor.
“Willard is one of the nicest guys who ever lived in Coeur d’Alene,” Robb says of the 97-year-old who lives in Southern California now. Back in ’72, that nice guy agreed to let Robb lease 409 Sherman in exchange for letting Largent sell his baked goods in the front of 411 Sherman.
Never mind that by the end of 1972, Tom Robb had three different landlords with three different buildings. What mattered was that all three of those buildings were now connected into one impressive business.
“We were pretty much rolling by the end of ‘72,” he says.
And Iron Horse, named because of Tom’s affinity for trains that goes back to his childhood in Boise, has been rolling ever since. The Robbs own the 411 site and, through Tom’s keen business acumen, the large parking lot in back.
“They offered to sell us the back parking lot for $35,000 a few years after we opened,” he recalls. “I thought that was outrageous, so a few years later we paid $100,000 for it.”
Fortune has managed to smile on the family business a couple of times, thanks to Aaron.
“Back in the early ’90s, I said ‘Let’s get some pool tables and other games in here,” Aaron says of the 411 location. The room was dark with low ceilings, he says, making a good place to have a drink or two and shoot pool. Business picked up.
Then, about a decade ago, Aaron imposed on his dad to raise the room’s ceilings, brighten the place up and offer another kind of entertainment.
“We decided to try live music, you know, just for a weekend,” Aaron says.
“He just wore me down,” Tom admits. “I wasn’t in favor of that.”
But the bar and restaurant, which was doing well anyway, saw its revenue double with the advent of live music. Tom’s been a believer ever since.
Both of the Robb boys see big things ahead, thanks in part to location but even more to people.
“Downtown has come a long way over the years. I just believe downtown is too nice — it’s the prettiest place in town,” Aaron says. “We’re a local place. We certainly get the tourists in the summer, but the locals support us all year long.”
Tom says that even at the worst of times, Iron Horse’s loyal following ensured the best of times weren’t far away.
“There were times, in the late ’70s and early ’80s, I didn’t think we could make payroll,” he says. “It never crossed my mind to quit or not fight.”
But Iron Horse is thriving now. Nine times over the past 12 years, Iron Horse has led the state in purchasing liquor, meaning it likely has sold the most, too. Tom’s other son, Mike, runs the Iron Horse Bar and Grill in Spokane Valley, where it just celebrated its 15th anniversary. Quitting or selling isn’t in the Robb family forecast.
“My wife and I, our sons and their wives, we’re all in this business,” Tom says. “The potential is there to do more business.”