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Bend's economy is coming back to life

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Articles - July 2011
Wednesday, June 22, 2011



The owners of 10 Barrel Brewing are hiring to expand their beer production fourfold as Bend’s craft brewing industry takes off. Clockwise from top left are 10 Barrel owners Jeremy Cox, Garrett Wales, Brad Wales and Chris Cox.
Heading back from the airport, my head is spinning with physics and geometry. Fortunately, my next appointment involves a product much simpler to get your head around, or vice versa: beer. Central Oregon’s craft beer industry is thriving. The continued success of Deschutes Brewery, the fifth-largest craft brewer in the nation, is spilling over into younger companies such as Boneyard Beer and 10 Barrel Brewing Company. I’m off to visit with the co-owners of 10 Barrel, who recently cherry-picked two of the city’s most highly regarded brewers from Deschutes and Bend Brewery to lead an aggressive expansion.


The ownership team for 10 Barrel certainly doesn’t look like a cutthroat bunch when I drive out to meet with them in a half-deserted business park off Empire Avenue. They’re soaking up sun in the parking lot, cracking jokes and drinking from a keg. Co-owner Chris Cox, who is 33, boasts about the great whiffle ball games in the parking lot as he leads me back to an office decorated with a poster advertising Extreme Midget Wrestling. His partner Garret Wales joins us a short time later with a container full of Mexican food.

Cox and his brother Jeremy were in their 20s when they moved from Portland to Bend to escape their corporate jobs and take a shot at buying and running a bar. It was boom time in Bend, so their bar did extremely well. They hired brewers and got into making their own beer, sold it hard, brought in ownership partners with experience in distribution and sales. They did everything right — except they bought property in Bend.

“Our property investments are down 70%,” Cox says with a grin. “But that’s how it is in Bend. You can tell the saddest sob story about all the money you lost and chances are the guy across the bar from you has been through something 10 times as bad.”

When the bottom fell out of the economy, the brokers and builders who used to flock to the bar to celebrate their successes stopped showing. The Coxes hired two out-of-work attorneys as servers. The value of the land they’d bought just kept falling. But their 10 Barrel brand held up well, in Portland as well as in Bend. Cox and his co-owners overruled the cautionary advice they heard from everyone they talked to and opened a brewpub in February 2010. Rather than sputter, the place has taken off. They couldn’t keep up with demand for their beer, so they decided to expand production fourfold, bringing in 14-year Deschutes Brewery veteran Jimmy Siefert to lead the transition. Siefert is hanging out in the parking lot, and when I ask him how he feels about his new job, he launches into a passionate monologue about how much fun it will be to grow 10 Barrel like they grew Deschutes.

Cox smiles. “We drink beer all day long, but we work really hard, too.”

It’s not the typical path to job creation, but it’s working for 10 Barrel. Launched in 2006, the company is up to 100 jobs. Cox expects to hire 20 more people to keep up with production and move the beer into new markets outside of Bend.



Kat Merrick
+1 #1 Bend Economy Coming back to LifeKat Merrick 2011-06-27 14:19:00
Thank you for your honest, critical evaluation of Bend's overblown speculative real estate market pre-2008. I was however, very disappointed that while you were able to id the historical damage caused by the speculation, you failed to notice or mention that the speculation is still going on.

Despite the recent crash in the market, and 1,000's of homes on the market in Bend the City of Bend is allowing the developers still standing to continue to clear natural land and lay infrastructure for additional homes - something this town clearly does not need. Northwest Crossing is currently the worst offender.
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Puppie Woggins
-1 #2 EVERYTHING IS JUST FINE IN BEND, AS ALWAYSPuppie Woggins 2011-06-27 16:10:28
I don't know what this "Kat Merrick" (possible descendant of "ELEPHANT MAN" John Merrick) is talking about, because everything is JUST FINE IN BEND.

There never was a Bubble, and therefore there could have never been a crash. We all have reason for ETERNAL OPTIMISM here in Bend, because any GOD FEARING person knows, the only thing you need to prop up real estate prices is a RIVER. And possibly mountain views. And proximity to skiing. Jobs? Psh, that is so 2006.

There are some that call us CRACKED-OUT NARCISSISTS. Some call us CALI-BANGER MORONS. Some call us FART-SNIFFING DIP[blocked]S. And then there are some, possibly the worst of all, that call us some fourth thing. You know what I say to that?

Anyway. Bend is OK. As soon as we get past this little rough patch of DEVELOPER SUICIDES, IMPLODING BUSINESSES, and POSTAGE-STAMP SIZED SUBDIV'S THAT WILL NEVER BE BUILT AS FAR AS THE EYE CAN SEE, well, we'll be just fine. JOPLIN-FINE as my grandpappy calls it.

I for one am glad that the bubble we never had brought cali-spankin speculators to this town. They done made it a much better place to live out my final years. Now they can tell me in person how they will change Bend into the last place they lived in Southern California, a place they despise, but still a place they feel the need to re-create here. Thank God for these Saints.

Frankly, this whole FINANCIAL CRISIS is really a blessing in DISGUST. Fer (yep, Fer) instance, now the entire town can forego the HARDSHIP of home ownership, and can eternally join the Rental Set, with parties every night, and only the occasional METH-FUELED GUN BATTLE to offend the eye.

Secondly, everyone is flat-ass broke. Ever-budee was getting pretty uppity, with their non-stop eating, feeding their kids and driving to work.

Third, people like working forever, and now since our munee is gone, we can all count on working forever, hopefully dying at work before they then run our corpse down the kitchen disposal at Mikkie Doogles.

Unemployment. Suicide. Landscape gashes instead of ugly trees & open areas.


If this past decade has taught us nothing, it's taught us... Well, it is clear we haven't lurnt much. I just hope people see thru the MEDIA-FUELED HORROR, and open their eyes to the truth:


Now let's all get back to the business of WILDLY OVERMARKETING OURSELVES, cuz it seems clear from the consequences of the past, that it will do us nothing but good in the END.

P.S. Never was a bubble.
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0 #3 Where have all the locals gone?LavaBear 2011-06-27 18:19:47
It appears that every single business featured in this article is owned by people who have no historical ties to the area. People like myself who were raised here, bought residences before 'the boom', are highly educated and experienced, are rarely EVER recognized for their achievements. Starting a new business (not tech, retail or industry-relate d) is truly very difficult, with little community support. A lot of us have already been run out of our hometown, which by the way, was a much easier and enjoyable place to live in the '80s and early '90s before everything on two legs moved here. I miss the serenity we once had. I miss the affordability. I miss my friends who have been forced to move away. Developers have virtually erased our history and traditions and trampled Bend's natural spaces as they grow in every direction of town, like a spreading cancer. Maybe an article should be written about that, the REAL Bend, and interview the REAL people?
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0 #4 RE: Bend's economy is coming back to lifeGuest 2012-07-07 07:03:54
I used to live in Bend from the mid-70s to the early 80s. it's too bad what's happened but things in 1980 got really bad so I had to vacate and relocate. Most years I still visit Bend. In all the time I lived in Bend earning a living has been difficult at best. In recent visits, I don't see much change except for the massive highways that replaced that 2 lane roads. The main cause of employmenr is the restrictive land policies. It is difficult to impossible to create subdivisions in the Bend area.
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