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Under-radar Spokane startup wins prize for innovative systems to cut water use

A Spokane tech company launched quietly two years ago has landed a $10,000 prize in a startup competition hosted by the Washington Technology Industry Association. Our full SR news story ran on Friday.

Under-the-radar Kirkland Analytics, which has a team of five, won the top prize this week during the WTIA’s First Look Forum event held in Bellingham.

The company develops its own hardware and software tools to identify water waste and eliminate it, said Matt Rose, the company’s VP of engineering. Its main customers so far have been large businesses and big-box stores.

Four of the firm’s workers live in Western Washington, while CEO Frank Burns lives in Spokane. The company is planning to move some of its production from Missouri to the Spokane area soon, Burns said.

Rose joined forces with Burns in 2007 as Burns was starting Hydro-care International. That Spokane firm develops self-contained water treatment centers for large stores or enterprise installations.

Long legal battle over lavish lake home ends with a court settlement

It's been a strange tale, the contentions between two big high-rollers over sprawling Lake Coeur d'Alene lake home.

The battle seems to have finally ended, with an announcement last week that the two men, Denny Ryerson and Dana Martin, have agreed to a settlement.

The summary of the settlement appeared in Saturday's Spokesman-Review.

We had to follow this tale from start to finish, from the first hints that Ryerson's business decline put him in danger of losing his multimillion lake mansion on Mica Bay, intended to be his dream retirement home, to the final blasts of legal crossfire over thousands of items pulled from the house after Martin acquired it in a bankruptcy sale.

It's over. Thank you very much.

Larry H. Miller helps put Thankgiving meals on the table, donating to UGM

Now that it's resolved the issue of moving forward with demolition of two downtown buildings, let's give a high-five to Larry H. Miller for some philanthropy.

The Utah-based firm recently gave Spokane's Union Gospel Mission  a $5,000 donation to help fund the charitable group's annual City-Wide Thanksgiving Dinner on Wednesday from 4-6 p.m. at the Spokane Convention Center.

A release noted also that Larry H. Miller Dealerships general managers,  wives and employees will help serve the Thanksgiving dinner – including turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy and stuffing - to more than 1,000 homeless and low-income families benefiting from the Union Gospel Mission.

“We are humbled to be able to support those members of our community who are experiencing tough times, and help provide them with the opportunity to enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving dinner,” said Bob McLean, general manager, Larry H. Miller Lexus Spokane.

In addition to providing funding and serving meals, Larry H. Miller Lexus will donate one turkey to the dinner for every vehicle sold through Nov. 26.


Ambassadors will lease space in the building it just sold, then move out

Earlier today readers found a story about Northwest Farm Credit Services paying $9 million for the big Ambassadors Group building on Flint Road near the airport.

We noted we couldn't get comments from either company about how this affects them.

Today, we did get a reply from the buyer.

Here's their statement:  “Northwest FCS is planning to move all of its headquarters staff to the Ambassador building.  The date of the move has not been determined yet.  We will be leasing the entire building back to Ambassador for an interim period of time.”

Their note also noted that it's up to Ambassadors to announce where its next location will be, following the interim period.

The rest of today's story was this:

Northwest Farm Credit Services, a financial services company serving regional farmers, bought the Ambassadors Group building near Spokane’s airport for $9 million.

The 133,000- square-foot building was constructed in 2006 by Ambassadors, a travel company that promotes cultural trips under the People to People banner. The building, along with 11 acres of land at 2001 S. Flint Road, has been for sale for two years. It was first listed for $13 million.

Ambassadors executives announced at the time that they wanted a smaller office space as a way to “right-size” the company during a period of declining revenue. At the time, officials said they intended to lease back office space from the buyer, but a recent federal filing about the sale gave no indication what Ambassadors intends to do. Spokane’s Northwest Farm Credit Services office is at 1700 S. Assembly St. near the Sunset Hill.


Private sector in Washington added jobs in October, while government lost jobs

This item includes a corrected number, changing the number of private jobs added during October.

Washington’s unemployment rate  rose slightly this month to 6.0 percent, despite an estimated gain of 5,600 jobs in October, according to preliminary and seasonally adjusted labor statistics from the state Employment Security Department.

State labor economist Paul Turek says the increase in the unemployment rate is is directly related to an increase in the state’s labor force, which rose by 12,200 in October.

“These numbers demonstrate increased confidence by job seekers entering or re-entering the marketplace,” Turek said. “Job growth continues to gain momentum—with the state adding roughly 7,000 jobs a month.

“But for this month, the increase in the number of new job seekers entering into the  labor market’s civilian workforce was greater than the number of new jobs added. That explains the increase in the unemployment rate.”

During the one-year period from October 2013 to October 2014 the department estimates employers added nearly 82,600 jobs statewide. This includes a gain of 66,900 69,900 private-sector and 12,700 government jobs.

Month over month, nonfarm, seasonally adjusted employment rose by 5,600 with the private sector adding 6,200 and the public sector losing 600 from September 2014 to October 2014.

Industry sectors with the largest employment gains in October were leisure and hospitality, up 2,700 jobs; retail trade, up 2,200; manufacturing up 1,500 and other services up 1,400.  Jobs in transportation, warehousing and utilities grew by 600 and the financial activities industry added 600 jobs as well.   Construction added 500 jobs. The professional and business services sector and the mining and logging sector both increased by 100 jobs each.

Spokane startup gets top prize at WTIA competition in Seattle

Kirkland Analytics, a Spokane startup that helps commercial buildings manage water use, won the top prize of $10,000 at this week's  WTIA Fall First Look Forum.

The Washington Technology Industry Association is a not-for profit trade group that supports technology companies and professionals, trying to build connections between startups and industry resources.

The Kirkland Analytics website says it helps customers “manage water like inventory,” and saves clients like Costco more than 20 percent on their water use with a plug-and-play, real-time monitoring and analytics system.

Its VP of Engineering and co-founder is Matt Rose, shown taking possession of the symbolic ten-grand check at the event this past week in Bellingham.

Frankly, we never heard of this group. (The firm's website is bare-bones. The HTML header in my browser identifies the page as “Adobe Muse Theme,” an indication the website was assembled with a template.)

Stay tuned, and we'll add more details as we get them.

Ryan Arnold gets first GSI post as director of entrepreneurship program

Ryan Arnold has been chosen as Greater Spokane Incorporated's first director of its recently launched Entrepreneurship Program. The job is focused on adding energy and guidance for area entrepreneurs and startups.

Arnold has primarily focused his efforts in Kootenai County. He created a consulting firm in Coeur d'Alene,  Sightline Energy, which worked with architecture and engineering companies.

He also helped launch Innovation Collective, a North Idaho-based support organization for new businesses and entrepreneurs.

GSI's Startup Spokane initiative is a broad-based effort to provide education, networking and support. It's collecting resources and links at

Rite-Aid will move, letting Trader Joe’s jump into the Franklin Park Mall strip

Big news if you are into food. A second Trader Joe's comes to north Spokane.

The graphic here shows the layout of Franklin Park Mall. TJ's goes into roughly half the Rite-Aid building there on North Division.

Rite-Aid, we're told, will leave the mall portion and build a drive-through near the Burlington Coat Factory building, on the site (but not part of Franklin Park Mall).

OK, back to your regularly scheduled browsing.

Mike Coyne and Sonic Decanter not yet at its $85,000 Kickstarter target

Spokane company Dionysius Technology has 13 days left to reach the $85,000 mark in its Kickstarter Campaign, to raise money for the first production of its Sonic Decanter.

The product removes oxygen and oxides from wine with the claim that the change in chemistry improves overall taste and complexity.

Company founder Mike Coyne showcased the product recently at the downtown Vino! wine shop. This video was shot during his visit to Vino!

The Kickstarter campaign page has lots of information about how the product works and its evolution. You might want to check it out.

This could, in fact, be a very big deal for consumers. Our first Office Hours post on the technology is here.


Win some, lose some: Post Falls will see Kimball shut down its furniture factory

Ouch. A few days after the SR reported on Spokane Valley manufacturing firm ATC moving to Post Falls, we see a wire story announcing that furniture maker Kimball will close its Post Falls operation.

The AP story:

JASPER, Ind. — Office furniture maker Kimball International says it plans to sell a metal-fabrication facility in Post Falls and move that work to existing company factories in southern Indiana.

The Jasper-based company says it will spend about $9.5 million to transfer the production to three Indiana factories over the next two years. Kimball officials say they are actively trying to sell the Post Falls facility.

The company says it expects to add up to 160 jobs at the southern Indiana factories with the increased production. Kimball now has about 2,000 full-time employees at 17 locations in Indiana. Kimball says it expects to save money after the consolidation by having production facilities closer together.

You win some, you lose some.  Incidentally, the reason ATC is moving is the strong lure of the Idaho Dept. of Commerce tax reimbursement incentive. It applies when a company agrees to create more than 50 jobs in an urban area, and pay more than the average county wage.

In the case of Kootenai County, the average is $33,730, according to Idaho labor analyst Alivia Metts. Spokane County's  is $41,727.

Bacon wax for mustaches? Yes, and it proves that the Beardbrand crew are right

Let's not get too disappointed that Beardbrand didn't score a nice deal on Shark Tank last week. Truly, if the PR mill can be trusted, the mustache-beard movement is healthy and prospering.   Beardbrand's fortunes are sure to spike as the world finds continuing need for products to treat one's facial hair.

Proving the point that innovation always happens in the most promising and rising market sectors, we cite this recent press release that noted a Seattle firm, J&D Foods, has just launched  its Bacon Moustache Wax.

We're pretty sure Ron Burgundy has tested this product.

The announcement came with an exclamation mark. It also said: “Bacon Moustache Wax combines two of the most powerful forces in the universe - cured meat and moustaches - into one powerful, gravity-defying wax”

They included a link to a news story out of KIRO TV on the launch of the wax. The interview also features Gandhi Jones, a three-time Freestyle Moustache World Champion:

For more information, try out where you'll find options and pricing.


Beardbrand survives Shark Tank but comes away without a bite

Spokane startup Beardbrand got the short end of the strop last Friday when the company competed for venture money on ABC TV's show Shark Tank.

Company co-founder and CEO Eric Bandholz said the sharks on the panel regarded the company as too niche and didn't care to back an investment. The company develops and markets a variety of men's grooming products, particularly catering to the bearded culture.

None of the panelists wanted to back the firm, he said.

“I don't think they (the panel) understand the market. It's not so niche. There are 17 million beardsmen in the United States, not to mention around the world,” Bandholz said.

Despite the result, the company then saw its website enjoy record numbers of visits two days over the weekend. Sales jumped, and the private company anticipates sales this year hitting $1.5 million, Bandholz said.

The TV show is a competition based reality show having aspiring entrepreneurs making business presentations to a panel of potential investors. It is based on the international Dragons' Den format.





Couple plans new sports bar in Painted Hills gold course clubhouse

Scott and Deanna Reckord, who operate the Sullivan Scoreboard Bar and Grill, will open a new sports bar and pub in the former Painted Hills Golf Course clubhouse, at 4403 S. Dishman-Mica Road. They call the business the Clubhouse at Painted Hills.

Developer Dave Black, who bought the golf course in 2013 following a bankruptcy by the previous owners, said he has not yet submitted a development plan for new residential units in the 30-acre parcel.

Scott Reckord said Black’s plans are the reason why he’s optimistic about the new eatery.

“There’s really no other place out here for the residents who are coming into this area,” Scott Reckord said.

The lunch fare will be traditional pub offerings. Evening meals will offer a range of standard sports bar menu items, he said.

The Reckords hope to open by Jan. 1.

Kaitlin Caudle and Bryan Walker, of NAI Black, helped broker the lease.

Spokane startup Beardbrand will be featured during Friday’s ‘Shark Tank’

Spokane startup Beardbrand, a men’s grooming products company, will compete for financial backing during Friday’s network TV show “Shark Tank.”

Company CEO Eric Bandholz will introduce the company and products to the show’s panel of five “sharks” or business or venture fund advisers.

Beardbrand's ecommerce store was launched in 2013 as a result of Spokane Startup Weekend where founders Eric Bandholz, Lindsey Reinders, and Jeremy McGee worked together as a team.

It’s grown to now offering more than 25 products. The founders say they’re reaping $1.5 million in annual sales through online sales and retail distribution.

Bandholz will be pitching to get investors to support the company. The “sharks” for Friday’s panel are NBA owner Mark Cuban, Daymond John, Lori Greiner, Kevin O'Leary and Robert Herjavec.

The Nut Factory closing down its retail store near I-90, moving production

The Nut Factory, a fixture along Interstate 90 for more than 15 years, will close its retail store-production site and move its wholesale operations to another warehouse.

Owner Gene Cohen said the Spokane Valley site, at 19425 E. Broadway Ave., will be closed in the next few weeks. He didn’t disclose where the wholesale commercial production will be relocated. He also declined to say how the changes will affect his labor force.

“I never tell how many workers we have. We have competitors,” he said.

The plan is to sell nuts and snack foods online and through other retailers, Cohen said. The business website will list more than 400 food items.

“It’s time to change. This business is vastly changing, like everything else,” he said.

“The trend going on is that operating a simple brick-and-mortar retail store is not as attractive” as it once was, Cohen added.

To read the rest of today's story, go on over to this link.

Photo of Gene Cohen, from The SR archive, is dated 1999, when Cohen moved into the new building in Spokane Valley.

Utrip adds Spokane to its directory of travel destinations

Seattle travel-advisory company Utrip has added Spokane to its online directory of city destinations.

The free service, also available through, provides suggestions for travelers to find and experience a city using Utrip’s suggestions.

Utrip, started in Seattle by former Spokane resident Gilad Berenstein, provides suggestions for a number of cities in the U.S. and worldwide.

Travelers can use either an app or the Utrip website. The site suggests a personalized itinerary that caters to a different interests, timelines and budgets.

Utrip incorporates comments and suggestions provided by regular travelers and local experts, the Utrip website said.

Which parking meter areas of downtown get the most use?

Are you ready to pay for your parking with a smart phone?

City officials believe that's the future. They're testing and about to deploy eventually a couple hundred new-styled parking meters that allow payments via apps (or through near-field communication, for those with NFC-enabled devices).

The story explaining the plan ran on Monday in the Spokesman Review (

The city's already paid about $600 for each new parking meter that can handle this type of transaction; they still take coins and credit cards, of course.

They'll be adding space-sensitive sensors later next year, allowing for more specific tracking of open parking for drivers. That will add another $350 or so to the cost of the meters.

Will this pay for itself?  Well, it's already doing the city a lot of good, according to Dave Steele, of the city's parking system. Credit card payments so far have pushed parking revenue in the downtown area up by more than $5,000 per WEEK compared with a year ago, he said.

The city is watching to see where people most use the newer meters. This map gives a recent snapshot of how busy some meters are, and which parts of town don't see that much activity. Green means the meter is generally used often. Yellow means sort of busy. Red means not paying for itself yet.




Sonic Decanter looks to Kickstarter to launch innovative wine taste enhancer

Spokane company Dionysus Technologies Inc. has launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to help develop and distribute its innovative system for improving the taste of wine.

It's called the Sonic Decanter, and the $85,090 Kickstarter campaign is part of the plan to release the product later this year. With 27 days to go the campaign has raised more than $44,000 so far.

What the decanter does, according to the company's materials, is remove oxygen from wine. Which is the opposite of what normal oxidizers or decanters do. An area inventor, Charles Leonhardt, is the guy credited with developing a new system that relies on ultrasonic energy.

The net result, chemically, is an improved flavor profile for just about any wine.

Local spokesman Mike Coyne said the project uses local companies for design, PR and CAD work. A number of local wineries were also involved in early testing, including Townshend, Wine Shops- Vino/Rocket Market and Kitchen Retailers-Kitchen Engine.

Coye said in an email: “We have been working on this patented technology for more than two years and it is now available. It works in minutes to improve the flavor, aroma, mouth feel and finish on any wine red or white.”


How hard was it to haul out the rocks where new Ruby apartments will be?

Who is the guy brave enough to take a chance on developing the rocky one acre plot just along Ruby Street, near Gonzaga University? He's David Schneider, a developer out of Southern California. He and partners (not identified) are working on a 60-unit Ruby Apartments project at 940 N. Ruby, just on the west edge of Gonzaga University's campus.

Schneider won't say how much he paid for the acre, or how much he's spent so far removing the huge piles of basalt on that site.

He said that up to now most Spokane city officials thought the site was undevelopable, due to the rock.

“We spent a lot on the (blasting and removal of) rock,” Schneider said.

Plans are to have the construction start in the spring, with occupancy planned in mid 2016.

Here is today's business section story about the project.Map by SR graphic artist Molly Quinn


Spokane’s icPooch founder Brooke Martin wows them at Geekwire summit

If you wondered how Spokane's 14-year-old phenom entrepreneur Brooke Martin is doing, here's the answer.

She's doing very well. Her company, icPooch, is up and running and selling the widely-heralded icPooch treat dispenser she developed with her father, Chris Martin, and others.

She recently won the top prize in a Geekwire “Inventions We Love” summit in Seattle. The video here is her 7-minute product demo.

For additional information, the company website is here. The product sells online for about $129.

The SR has all sorts of stories about her efforts and drive. Here is our first article.  She's won an honorary mention in one of the Startup Weekend Spokane events.

For all 13 stories from the SR featuring Brooke, here's our topic page.


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The Spokesman-Review business team follows economic development in Spokane and the Inland Northwest.

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Read all the posts from recent conversations on Office Hours.


John Stucke John Stucke is a deputy city editor who helps build local news coverage and writes about health care, bankruptcy and rural affairs.

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Alison Boggs (@alisonboggs) Online Producer Alison Boggs posts and manages content on and its social networking accounts.

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Scott Maben Scott Maben is a Deputy City Editor who covers North Idaho news and higher education.

Addy Hatch is the city editor, and formerly was business editor.

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