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VIP: A conversation with Eric Parsons, CEO, The Standard

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Wednesday, March 01, 2006

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"I TELL FOLKS THAT I WENT to business school in a feed store. My dad ran a feed store in Klamath Falls, and I remember one time I was in the second or third grade; it was in the afternoon and about to rain. My dad showed up at school and took me out of class. He had closed the store and taken the crew and a couple of trucks and was heading out to a farm, where one of his customers had died. The man’s hay had been cut and baled, but was still in the field and if it rained on the hay that crop was ruined. And that was the inheritance of the widow. My job was to drive the truck.  My legs were not quite long enough to reach the pedals, but by standing up and holding onto the wheel I could reach the accelerator and the brake. I learned from my dad that his customers were also his friends. His relationships lasted for 40, 50, 60 years. A lot of what I do is colored by that experience.

"How we’re celebrating our 100th anniversary is an important statement about the company. Our Days of Caring are opportunities for us to contribute something to the city.  It’s just such a Standard way of doing a celebration.

"The people who founded Standard 100 years ago founded many other important organizations in Portland. We’ve a deep history that goes way back. We can’t address every problem, but we try to be there at the right time. We try to support education and arts and folks on the street. Portland is one of the greatest cities in which to live. One of the reasons is because people take care of it. We all have a responsibility to do that."

Photo by Stuart Mullenberg

 

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Old power works like a currency. It is held by few. Once gained, it is jealously guarded, and the powerful have a substantial store of it to spend. It is closed, inaccessible, and leader-driven. It downloads, and it captures.

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