Advertise Here

Office Hours

Archive for January 2014

Felix Baumgartner’s free-fall jump, shown in newly released RedBull video

This video is not business related, but it's very worth watching anyway.

It's the long-form YouTube video of Felix Baumgartner's space jump in 2012, from a height of 24.3 miles above the Earth.

A part of the Red Bull video will appear during Sunday's Super Bowl.

Associated Painters workers decorate an Alaska Airlines jet in cool video

Have you seen how Associated Painters, the company based at the Spokane Airport, paints those cool designs on different airplanes?
This video, on Alaska Airline's YouTube page, gives a great time-lapse of the process.

This clip shows the company's workers creating the pattern for the University of Alaska Anchorage Seawolf plane.

Fifty Associated Painters workers worked on the plane over six days, using 15,360 linear feet of masking tape, and channeling some serious university pride. It will begin flying primarily between Anchorage and Kodiak when Alaska Airlines' sister carrier, Horizon Air, introduces the Q400 to the state of Alaska on March 3.

URM Stores lists the 67 locations where card data was potentially exposed

URM Stores today listed the 67 Inland Northwest grocery stores where card transactions could have been captured during last fall's network security breach.  The stores are in Washington, Idaho, Montana and Oregon. Oregon has the fewest stores: the four there are in Heppner, Enterprise, Joseph and Umatilla.

The Spokane grocery co-op posted the full list on its website today, then said it was not yet finished in investigating the attack.

The release avoided saying anything about who was behind the attack. The Secret Service is the lead agency investigating the crime.

See the link below this post to see the PDF listing the 67 “affected” stores. In this instance, affected means: stores where transactions could have been accessed by cyber criminals.




Fertility clinic opens SRM Spokane, with a staff of eight, in Spokane Valley

A Seattle reproductive medicine clinic has added a Spokane Valley office with a medical staff of eight people.

SRM Spokane, which opened in October, is the fifth location statewide operated by Seattle Reproductive Medicine. The first location in Seattle opened in 2004.

The Valley clinic is at 15920 E. Indiana Ave.

The staff includes one doctor, an embryologist, a registered nurse, two medical assistants, one andrologist, a nurse practitioner and an office manager. A second physician will join the team this summer, said Brad Senstra, SRM’s executive director.

Its services cover the gamut of fertility options, including in vitro fertilization (IVF) and surgical procedures.

Senstra said the move to Eastern Washington reflects the growing number of patients from this side of the state who were traveling to Seattle. “Spokane and that region are large enough that the area was a bit underserved,” he said.

The expansion was assisted by Greater Spokane Incorporated. GSI staff worked with a site selector from Seattle to identify possible Spokane locations for SRM.

Skyhawks scoops up SoccerTots, now has programs for many age levels

Today's story (below) on Skyhawks Sports Academy is a smart move by the private firm.

See our earlier story, from 2012, where we review the history.

Skyhawks Sports Academy has acquired SoccerTots, a Spokane company providing physical development programs for toddlers and young children.

Skyhawks, headquartered in Mead, largely offers summer outdoor sports and activity camps for children from 3 to 12 years old. SoccerTots primarily offers indoor sessions.

“So they complement us both in providing more programs throughout the year and expanding the age group,” Skyhawks President Chris Stiles said.

A news release said the combined operation this year will provide sports programs to more than 75,000 children in 27 states and four Canadian provinces. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

More rides for young kids coming to Silverwood Theme Park

Silverwood Theme Park north of Coeur d’Alene is expanding again with more rides for younger children and families. The park will spend more than $1.2 million to nearly double its family entertainment area with three new rides – a kite glider, a giant puppy ride that barks on command, and a spinning family coaster – to open by this summer. Space for an additional ride  – a hot air balloon-themed attraction – will be prepared for a 2015 opening, and the kiddie Ferris wheel will be re-themed and moved to the new area, north of Garfield’s Summer Camp and east of the Butterflyer and Frog Hopper rides. New pathways with seating areas, trees and gardens will be added as well. Construction is expected to begin in February. Silverwood is the largest theme and water park in the Northwest. It opened in 1988. Information:

Bitcoin still widely misunderstood, even by those who write about it for a living

Still doing more thinking about Bitcoin, ever since the SR ran a story on Jan. 11 about the Volstead Act, a Spokane bar, starting to accept that crypto-currency as payment.

Today's story, for additional research, presents a tongue-in-cheek overview of other competing digital currencies. It comes by way of The Daily Beast; all you need to know is a few examples of the types of currencies surveyed: Coinye West, CatCoin and SexCoin.

Another, more serious look at the Bitcoin universe and its ability to be gamed, we suggest a recent cover article from Bloomberg Business.



Two of the top five credit unions in Washington are based in Spokane

We spotted a listing at the Puget Sound Business Journal of the state's five largest credit unions.

Two are based in Spokane. The list, based on total assets:

             Name                                       Assets                  Members

  • BECU                                     $11.5 billion            826,000
  • Wash. State Employees CU  $1.85 billion            208,200
  • STCU                                     $1.77 billion            114,800
  • Gesa CU                                $1.3 billion              114, 429
  • Numerica                               $1.25 billion             98,000


Dick’s Sporting Goods keeps its doors open later, if Seahawks win

Yes. it is a strange and energized time in the retail world if you have Seahawks merchandise you want to move.

See today's A1 story about the range and degree of the efforts by area businesses to sell 'Hawk stuff.

We never added this oddment:  Dicks' Sporting Goods' Spokane Valley location will also join in. If the Hawks beat the 49ers on Sunday, the store will stay open an extra three hours, until 10 p.m.

Instead of opening at 9 a.m., on Monday, the store will open at 6 a.m.

The winners, from where I sit:  those employees at Dick's who will get some overtime. I can't imagine that the extra hours will really boost the sales of merch after hours.


Tabacek’s vision helped make IT-Lifeline an ideal target for a merger

Congratulations are in order for the folks who've built IT-Lifeline into a top-drawer tech services company, making it an attractive target for an acquisition.

Especially worth a call-out is Steve Tabacek, who started the Liberty Lake private company in 2002, taking it beyond simple backup to the integrated providing of business continuity services and disaster risk assessment.

Here's one of our first articles about IT-Lifeline, from our former tech section SR TXT, dated September 2003.

Tabacek was the founding guy and the person who pushed the company forward during its earliest leaner years.   Though he left IT-Lifeline two years ago to start CXOWare, another Spokane firm, his role was pivotal in keeping the company growing.

A Texas firm, Rentsys Recovery Services, acquired IT-Lifeline and plans to keep the operation going in Liberty Lake, according to today's SR story from our business pages.

The 2003 story wasn't that brilliantly written, either. I'm just enjoying thinking back to 2003 when the Spokane economy wasn't especially strong and the idea of a new company tackling the disaster-recovery area seemed very promising, to me anyway.

This cup is not something you want to find on your workplace desk

This photo tells a cautionary story.  If you see one of these on your desk, be very concerned about your career choices.

If your boss leaves one of these on your desk, maybe it's time to move your resume around. I would also hide the cup in a dark cupboard.

Another clue that you're not going to be getting the corner office: Your supervisor says, “We're going to need you to come in this weekend, to work on those TPS reports”


Auntie’s Bookstore’s River Park Square location will close Jan. 31

Spokane-based homegrown Auntie's Bookstore announced it's closing its River Park Square shop, after three years of not being able to grab enough shoppers in the downtown mall. The final day is Jan. 31.

The company's large downtown central store, at 402 W. Main, is not affected and is doing well, said company founder Chris O'Harra.

O'Harra said Auntie's will continue running a Spokane airport operation.

“We just weren't able to tap into that mall market,” she said.

It might be that the RPS shop was too near the other downtown store, O'Harra said.

The strongest sales for the RPS store were for children's books, which makes sense. Auntie's took over a space on the second floor previously used by Children's Corner Bookshop.

“I still think there's a market to sell books at the mall,” she added. “We just weren't able to develop it there.”

The mall has not yet identified a tenant for the Auntie's location. RPS is owned and operated by Cowles Co., which also owns and publishes The Spokesman-Review.

New eatery, named Wisconsinburger, will open on South Hatch this spring

View Larger Map

This is the kind of restaurant that may do very well in Spokane.

Jeff Nordvall and Laura Paisley plan to open a new restaurant, Wisconsinburger, at 916 S. Hatch St. on Spokane’s South Hill.

They expect to open in March.

The pair formerly started and operated the Lantern Tavern in the South Perry District. They sold that business in 2012.

Wisconsinburger will feature Midwestern menus, including fried cheese curds and butter burgers, Nordvall said.

“We will focus on fresh food and local foods,” he said. “We are not trying to be a fast-food restaurant,” he added.

The restaurant’s décor will feature elements drawn from traditional Midwest bowling alleys, Nordvall said. The service area, with about 1,100 square feet, will hold 35 to 40 seats.

It will serve beer and wine and will be open six days a week to start, closed Sundays.

Curious, confused about Bitcoin? You’re not alone. Free workshop may help

You were not alone if you read the Saturday SR story about Bitcoin and wasn't sure how it all works and what's the big deal.

For you, here we go. A free workshop on Thursday at the Spokane Valley Library, at 12004 E. Main Ave. Presenters will be Zach Doty and Doug Slaton, two local business guys who both accept the new virtual currency at their stores.

Doty operates Integrity CompuTech, a PC services and consulting firm in Rathdrum. Slaton runs Spokane Computer Commando, in the Valley.

The two will give a helpful layman's introduction to Bitcoin, so that any ordinary person can figure out what it does and doesn't do.

Both guys are well-versed in Bitcoin, which is a form of payment increasingly popular on the Web.



Red Lion adds a new hotel in Tucson, making it the 31st franchise

View Larger Map

Correction:  Earlier, this entry said the Tucson franchise will be Red Lion's 30th. When it converts, it will be the 31st.

Red Lion Hotels Corp. has  signed a franchise agreement to add a new hotel in Tucson.

The conversion is for the Quality Inn & Suites, 7411 N. Oracle Road, a property near the Santa Catalina Mountains in west Tucson.

Converting hotels into Red Lion Hotel franchises has been the primary business goal of the Spokane-based, publicly traded hospitality company.

The building is expected to complete the brand conversion by May.

It has 155 rooms, 91 of which are suites, and 1,600 square feet of meeting space.  It also offers a heated outdoor pool and hot tub.

Interim Red Lion CEO Jim Evans said the company added 11 locations in 2013, bringing the brand total to 30 franchised hotels. Tucson will be the 31st.

The Arizona market is considered a dynamic travel, business and leisure area. Red Lion already has the Red Lion Inn & Suites in Tempe-Phoenix.

Ready for ‘prosumer’ 3-D printing? CES says it’s coming soon to stores

Since the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show is still going on, we're keeping track of a couple key tech areas there.

One is 3-D printing. Our recent story on featured efforts by one company here, Proto Technologies, to provide 3-D prototyping; and another firm, Zak Designs, to move into the area of using 3-D printing to cut operating costs.

This summary, from Time online, summarized some of the notable 3-D developments in Las Vegas this week:

While 3-D has not caught on in TVs, there’s real interest in 3-D when it comes to printers. We will see 3-D printers as low as $499 at CES, and many in the $999-$1,299 range for what you might call a “prosumer” who’s interested in 3-D printing. Although these will really still be used for consumer experimentation, I see them as important tools for flattening out the learning curve within the prosumer and professional markets. I kind of liken the introduction of low-cost 3-D printers to the early days of desktop publishing when it came on the scene in the mid-’80s. Just as desktop publishing revolutionized the publishing world, 3-D printing could create new forms of printing, like becoming an important tool for prototype visualization and small-scale manufacturing projects. If you’re at CES, be sure to check out these lower-cost 3-D printers to see what they can do.

Read more: The 2014 Consumer Electronics Show: 8 Trends to Watch |

Chatters vacates its River Park Square shop; no new tenant lined up

Retailer Chatters Salon & Beauty Supply has closed its shop in downtown Spokane's River Park Square.

No new tenant for the main floor shop has been announced.

The company is based in Canada and reportedly had just the Spokane store as its first U.S. location.

Bryn West, general manager of River Park Square, said the company informed RPS it wasn't willing to continue operations in Spokane.

RPS is owned by Cowles Co., which also operates The Spokesman-Review and

We’re looking for readers’ tips for best way to get a new job in 2014?

Are there better job prospects in this area for 2014?  A lot of folks tracking employment say that's the case.

We ran this list of suggestions for job-seekers in Sunday's Spokesman Review.

See if you have any hints you'd add to the list:

Several area job recruiters and human resources executives provided these tips for finding a good job in 2014.

Dianne La Valley, senior staffing manager for Accountemps, a Spokane executive job search firm: Develop a professional online profile at LinkedIn. La Valley suggested also joining useful and professionally relevant groups on LinkedIn that an employer can see as positive indicators of one’s career goals.

“Include a photo that is a professional quality photo on LinkedIn,” she said.

On Facebook, she urges candidates to not reveal too much personal information that an employer could judge as unprofessional.

Nancy Nelson, owner and president of recruiting firm Humanix: Make sure your resume speaks to your abilities and experiences. “Accent the key strengths that you’re trying to get the employer to notice,” she said.

Josh King, CEO of Tinderbox Consulting, a Spokane media consulting firm: Think of your job search as a full-time job. “After you get up in the morning, be prepared for a full day of job hunting. Be ready to go to an interview on short order, by being well-dressed and looking professional,” he said.

That applies even if one only goes to a public library to use the Internet, he said.

Susan Clevenger, Humanix director of national recruiting: In an interview be mindful of body language. “Engage with the interviewer and keep good eye contact at all times.  I have had candidates interview … while sitting there with tightly folded arms.  It is a turn-off when you don’t feel engaged or connected with the person,” she said.

Prepare answers for interview questions one can expect. “Be prepared to give an example of how you handled an uncomfortable situation. Keep the story short and to the point. No rambling,” Clevenger added.

Barbara Olsen, executive director of Business Networking International for Eastern Washington/North Idaho: Know a possible employer’s company history; be familiar with its mission, vision and values. “Understand what the company does within the community,” she said.

Ev Hopkins, vice president of human resources at STCU: Find a mentor in the field or job that you aspire to. Invite them to lunch and learn their career story. Ask that person what advice they’d give, and what experiences or education would prepare you to be a stronger job candidate.

“Who do they know who they would be willing to introduce you to, so you might get help to secure the job you want?” she suggested.


Prepaid cell plan customers will see new E911 charges starting now at retail stores

OK, one of those little-seen, little-known wireless phone bill taxes has been modified to include sales of prepaid phones and prepaid phone cards.

Starting this month, the state of Washington has approved adding the tax to prepaid phones and prepaid products, including phone cards.

Here's an example. Bob goes to WalMart and buys a $30 prepaid wireless phone card. The store will collect $1 for the E911 tax   Seventy cents go to the county, 25 cents goes to the state, and then the store will collect an additional nickel  and send it to the state Department of Revenue.

The change in the law is that previously the E011 emergency services tax was collected by cellphone companies and carriers. Now retailers are asked to collect the tax on prepaid items.

All wireless customers are already paying that small tax on their monthly wireless bill.

The money supports the technology that enables local 911 emergency services to pinpoint the geographic location of cellphone users who call for help. A summary of the tax can be found at the Washington Dept. of Revenue FAQ.

The new law allows retailers to charge 5 cents to cover their cost of collecting the tax until July 1, 2018. The 95-cent E911 tax and 5-cent seller compensation will be collected on each prepaid wireless item purchased. The E911 tax is in addition to state and local retail sales taxes.

South Regal Lumber challenge: make a drive-through warehouse succeed

Saturday's business section story featured plans by owners of South Regal Lumber to relocate their yard to a new location, about four blocks away on East 57th.

They essentially traded their current site for a commercial parcel owned by Cyrus Vaughn, who is still owner of Cyrus O'Leary's Pies.

The lumber yard is contemplating using the very odd physical feature of that new parcel (whose address is 3209 & 3223 E. 57th) to create a drive-through lumber yard. The story gives some details on how that works.

South Regal Lumber Manager Scott Case said the thin strip of land stretching from roughly South 55th to 57th would not normally be usable for commercial development. But with some ingenuity, they've conceived of a way that drivers can enter the drive-through and proceed along the warehouse, without having to leave a vehicle. The actual drive-through would not start at 57th, but somewhere closer to another proposed South Regal showroom retail store, off the street.

The photo here shows the total parcel on 57th, shaded in brown. The site purchased by the lumber yard owners does not include the storage units that lie north of the commercial buildings that were acquired by South Regal's owners (Moran Prairie Shopping Center).

The long narrow strip on the left that runs up to the top left corner of the rectangle is the proposed site for the drive-through.  It would sit betwixt the two storage areas in that neighborhood.


One blog reader wins our OfficeHours coffee card prize in year-end contest

We have a winner in the SR OfficeHours top business stories of 2013 contest.

The winner, He (she) guessed correctly that the expansion of medical education programs at the Riverpoint higher education campus was the most significant business story of the year for this area.  We listed the top five:

  1. Riverpoint expansion.
  2. Umpqua buys Sterling Financial.
  3. Huge credit card fraud tied to area grocery stores.
  4. Major downtown properties sold to developers eager to renovate.
  5. Owner of Mead smelter property investing millions to convert site into an industrial park.

So, yo mjbehri, contact us by sending an email to with the subject COFFEE. We'll then line up a mailing address for the prize.

Get blog updates by email

About this blog

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

Sign up for our business email newsletter
Latest comments »

Read all the posts from recent conversations on Office Hours.


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

Recent work by Alison

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.

Search this blog
Subscribe to this blog
Advertise Here