Advertise Here

Office Hours

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.


How are 12 Spokane area public firms doing in the market?

We print the quarterly Hart Capital NW stock index, which shows a relative gauge of 12 area publicly traded companies. It's measured against the S&P 500.

Here's the 3Q index in graphic form. The story that goes with the index summary ran last week.

AmericanWest Bank announces plans to take over Sacramento bank

AmericanWestBank has announced plans to acquire Bank of Sacramento. 

The deal, announced Wednesday, is subject to regulatory and shareholder approval.

Founded in 1998, Bank of Sacramento has $468 million in assets and four branches, all in the Sacramento area.

AmericanWest has $4 billion in assets, five branches in the Sacramento area and 94 branches overall. The press release states the local branches are in complementary locations, suggesting they would all remain open.

The transaction is scheduled to close in early 2015. Under terms of the deal, Greater Sacramento Bancorp shareholders will receive $22.05 per share, or $60 million in aggregate, with a reduction in certain circumstances.AmericanWest will acquire Greater Sacramento Bancorp, the holding company for Bank of Sacramento.

The merger will result in a bank with $4.5 billion in assets and 100 banking locations on the West Coast.

“This merger is a great fit for Bank of Sacramento. We share a similar approach to community commercial banking, and Bank of Sacramento will help bolster AmericanWest’s presence in the Sacramento market,” William J. Martin, president and CEO of Bank of Sacramento, said in the news release. “Bank of Sacramento customers will benefit from the expanded resources of the combined company while continuing to enjoy great service from their Bank of Sacramento bankers.”

Mayor Condon invited to talk Thursday on IP and business growth in Spokane

Spokane Mayor David Condon is the guest speaker tomorrow — Thursday — at a business lunch hosted by K&L Gates law firm.

The lunch runs from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Lincoln Center, at 1316 N. Lincoln St.

Condon will speak on the recent and historical successes of IP-centric businesses in the Spokane community.  Plated lunch and dessert will be served.  Condon is also likely to discuss his view of Spokane's business climate and growth prospects over the next year.

Reservations should be made by the end of today, by emailing

Tickets are $20.

Condon's remarks are related to the 2014 Inland Empire Intellectual Property Institute full-day CLE session.  For attorneys and law students wishing to register for the CLE, go to this link to register.





GSI presents Green Economy overview at session this afternoon

Greater Spokane Incorporated is hosting a Green Economy symposium in downtown Spokane today (Wednesday), starting at 3:30 p.m. at the Spokane Club.

Who's presenting? Patrick O'Keefe, a senior VP and managing director at CH2M Hill; Elson Floyd, president of Washington State University; and Philip Mezey, CEO of Itron.

You can reserve a seat at Cost is $20 for GSI folkls, $30 for others.

Red Lion adds new Federal Way franchise, plus one in Detroit

Spokane-based Red Lion Hotels is not done with its plans for Seattle. Two months ago it announced it will sell its Bellevue hotel.

Last year it also sold off its downtown hotel and made it one of its franchise properties.

On Monday the company announced another franchise, the Red Lion Inn & Suites in Federal Way, at 1688 S. 348th St.

The building has 90 guest rooms, a conference room and laundry facilities. The press release noted it's 15 miles from the Seattle-Tacoma airport.

The owner, Paul Sandhu of NW Hospitality LLC, said he plans to invest $2 million for upgrades to rooms, meeting areas and a new indoor pool.

Last week Red Lion also announced  it's signed a franchise deal for a hotel near Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport.

“The Detroit metro area is among the top 20 MSAs in the U.S., which we are targeting as we expand eastward,” said Brian Quinn, Chief Franchise Officer for RLHC.

That property is at 9095 Wickham Road. It  has 77 rooms and is located about three miles from Detroit Metropolitan Airport.  It is expected to convert to Red Lion by the end of the year.

Nectar Wine founder plans new location in Kendall Yards, using Kickstarter

Josh Wade, who launched Nectar Tasting Room in 2011 in downtown Spokane, is adding a wine-and-beer specialty store and pub in the Kendall Yards neighborhood.

He will move into a 2,200-square-foot space adjoining Veraci Pizza, east of Central Food. His new location will be called Nectar Wine and Beer, at 1331 W. Summit Parkway.

The front third of the space will be used to sell retail wine, beer and cheese. The middle area will offer seating for food service. The back third, facing the river, will be a 35-seat lounge and tasting area featuring wines and craft beers.

Veraci Pizza will provide the menu, Wade said. He expects the new location to open in February.

Wade has launched a Kickstarter campaign hoping to raise $20,000 to provide his initial inventory. Interior design will be done by Hissong Design Group.

Nectar Tasting Room will remain open. His new business will operate six days a week, Wade added

Finders Keepers jewelry store plans its final day on Oct. 25

Finders Keepers Jewelry store on Spokane, originally started by Deena Caruso, is closing down. It's offering huge markdowns to help sell off its inventory, that's it, said co-owner Connie Pearce. Here's their Facebook page. The expected last day is Oct. 25.

Caruso was the guiding hand behind the retail shop, at 309 W. Second Ave., until earlier this year when she chose to move to New York.

Caruso's teenage daughter has begun an acting career and Deena chose to move to the big city to help guide that career forward.

A second Finders Keepers fashion store, at 18 W. Main Ave., is not going to close.

Washington, Idaho get cash through AT&T ‘cramming’ settlement

About 40 U.S. attorneys general announced they arranged a $105 million settlement with AT&T Mobility to resolve consumer problems over the problem of cell phone “cramming” charges.

Washington will get about $807,000 from the settlement. Idaho will get about $230,000 from the settlement.

The news for consumers is better than that. Many are eligible to apply for a refund.  Washington has around 500,000 AT&T customers, according to a release from the Washington Attorney General office.

Cramming is the unauthorized addition of charges on cell phone bills, often done at the behest of third-party companies sending text messages or trying to lure customers into adding services.

Under the agreement, AT&T will make sure it has the customer's consent before billing for third-party charges.
AT&T will continue offering consumers the option to block all third-party charges. Other phone carriers, not just AT&T, offer third-party blocking service for free.

Consumers can find out more information about the refund process and submit claims by visiting the website.

To determine if you are eligible for a refund, you can also contact the FTC’s refund contractor at 1-877-819-9692 for more information.

Procurement session on Friday will help small businesses get certified

Spokane’s Women’s Business Center is hosting a session Friday morning on landing contracts with area government and education agencies or with Fairchild Air Force Base.

Aimed at small-business owners and managers, the free event runs 8 a.m. to noon at the East Central Community Center, 500 S. Stone St.

More than 20 businesses will be represented. They will meet with a panel of area procurement officers who work at the air base, the Community Colleges of Spokane, the city of Spokane and other groups.

Any business wanting information about federal contracting services is encouraged to attend, said Laurie S. Roth-Donnell, the business center manager.

The main focus will be on business owners qualifying for certification with Washington’s Procurement and Technical Assistance Center program, she said.

A panel of local experts will share information with attending businesses, and from 10:30 a.m. to noon there will be a business trade fair

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