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|Articles - June 2011|
|Wednesday, May 18, 2011|
Midway between signing a 10-year purchasing agreement with Hanesbrands and closing a development deal with Levi’s, a very pumped up and busy Ken Barker stopped into a downtown café recently to talk flax.
During the previous chapter of Barker’s career he was head of apparel of Adidas North America in Portland. Now he is CEO of Naturally Advanced Technologies, a small company with global aspirations. When Barker first got involved in NAT as an investor it was a hemp company based in Vancouver, B.C., using enzymes to break down fibers into fine strands. Now it is using the same technology on flax to make a patented material softer than linen and cheaper than cotton.
That’s right — cheaper than cotton. A spike in cotton prices has propelled Barker’s small company into a strong position. The deal between NAT and Hanesbrands brought coverage from the Wall Street Journal and Marketplace radio and sent stocks soaring for both businesses.
“We are talking to leaders in denim, sportswear, bed and bath, disposable drapes, and gowns for the medical industry,” Barker said. “There isn’t a category out there we’re not engaged in. Because everyone is faced with the same dilemma" of rising cotton prices.
Barker expects to produce 400,000 pounds of CRAiLAR flax per week at facilities in South Carolina and Manitoba, Canada, by the end of 2011. His plan involves growing flax in South Carolina, buying it from farmers in North Dakota and potentially planting new crops in the Willamette Valley. Barker’s strategy is to build CRAiLAR into a brand as ubiquitous as Lycra or Gore-Tex, and to introduce it into a global system he knows well.
“The supply chain for us to ship fiber into manufacturing regions around the world exists currently,” he said. “All the major brands we’re working with are saying, fine, ship it to Karachi, ship it to India, ship it to China. It’s exactly the same process.”
Tuesday, December 09, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER
On the eve of the Portland Ad Federation's Rosey Awards, Matt Anderson, CEO of Struck, talks about the transition from creative director to CEO, the Portland talent pool and whether data is the new black in the creative services sector.
Friday, December 12, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER
Studying ground-running birds, a group that ranks among nature's speediest and most agile bipedal runners, to build a faster robot.
Thursday, December 11, 2014
BY APRIL STREETER
Democratic gains pave the way for a revival of environment and labor bills as revenue reform languishes.
Saturday, December 13, 2014
Seven tidbits of information from an agency partner and co-founder of Waggener Edstrom in Lake Oswego.
Thursday, December 11, 2014
There’s a fascinating article in the December issue of the Harvard Business Review about a profound power shift taking place in business and society. It’s a long read, but the gist revolves around the tension between “old power” and “new power” as a driver of transformation. Here’s an excerpt:
The authors, Henry Timms and Jeremy Heimans, don’t necessarily favor one form of power over another but merely outline how power is transitioning, and how companies can take advantage of these changes to strengthen their positions in the marketplace.
Our Powerbook issue might be viewed as a case study in the new-power transition. This annual book of lists provides information on leading businesses, nonprofits and universities in the state. Most of the featured companies are entrenched power players now pursuing more flexible and less hierarchical approaches to doing business. Law firms, for example, are adopting new technologies and fee structures to make legal services more accessible and affordable.
This month we also take a look at a controversial new U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission rule requiring public companies to disclose the median pay of workers, as well as the ratio between CEO and median-worker pay.
Part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law, the rule will compel public companies to be more open about employee compensation, with the assumption that greater transparency will improve corporate performance and, perhaps, help address one of the major challenges of our time: income inequality.
New power is not only about strategy and tactics, the Harvard Business Review authors say. “The ultimate questions are ethical. The big question is whether new power can genuinely serve the common good and confront society’s most intractable problems.”
That sounds like a call to arms. Or a New Year’s resolution. Old power or new, the goals are the same: to be a force for positive change in the world. Happy 2015!
Thursday, December 04, 2014
BY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR
Nothing says startup culture like a ping pong table in the office, lounge or lobby.
Monday, November 10, 2014
BY KIM MOORE | OB RESEARCH EDITOR
A market for low-carbon transportation fuels has a chance to flourish in Oregon if regulators adopt the second phase of the state’s Clean Fuels Program.
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