Smart cases for smartphones

| Print |  Email
Articles - October 2011
Thursday, September 22, 2011

1011_SmartAccessories_01Ken Tomita has a mantra he repeats as he moves from the woodworking area to the design floor of his rapidly growing company, Grove: “We build everything here.”

Not everything, of course — just everything Grove sells. Grove has been manufacturing in Portland for just over a year, and already the business has grown to 21 young employees buzzing about with great creative freedom at a funky space in the Central Eastside. Tomita and co-founder Joe Mansfield have created jobs at a time when few companies are hiring, and they have done so with no business training, no loans or grants and no outsourced low-wage contract workers building their products in China. 
One key to their early success lies in what they make: smooth, artful bamboo cases for iPhones and iPads. The other key has to do with how they make what they make.

Tomita, a 33-year-old former furniture maker, keeps his office in the ground floor production area, where employees are operating computer-programmed woodworking machines in one room and hand-sanding bamboo in another. The only farmed-out task involves oiling the products by hand: Tomita’s mother does that at home.

Tomita speaks so quietly he is difficult to hear over the din, but everything he says exudes confidence. “This product is impossible to outsource. It can’t be done.”

Up five flights of stairs is Mansfield’s domain, with a view of the Portland skyline and nice, cool air from the 800-pound fan Mansfield had craned onto the roof above. Ceiling speakers pipe in music while workers do their stuff using computers, a laser engraving device and an honest-to-goodness sewing machine.

 



 

More Articles

Everything old is new again: How the EEOC is reinventing itself

Contributed Blogs
Tuesday, February 17, 2015
BY TAMSEN LEACHMAN | OB GUEST CONTRIBUTOR

It is important to understand the EEOC’s priorities, and ensure that your leadership understands the shifting expectations of regulators and the heightened standards to which you (and they) may be held.


Read more...

Transportation Fairness Alliance holds demonstration in Pioneer Square

The Latest
Wednesday, January 14, 2015
IMG 3367BY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Portland's cab companies urged city hall for consideration as officials weigh new rules for Uber and other ridesharing companies.


Read more...

ZoomCare rolls out new on-demand health clinics

News
Monday, March 02, 2015
zoomcarethumbBY KIM MOORE |  OB RESEARCH EDITOR

Portland-based healthcare provider ZoomCare said it plans to “remake American healthcare” by expanding its on-demand urgent care model to emergency, surgery, dental and primary care, among others.


Read more...

Editor's Letter: Tortoise and the Hare

February 2015
Monday, January 26, 2015

The day after this issue goes to press, the city of Medford will host its annual business conference. The event features Minoli Ratnatunga, co-author of the Milken Institute’s annual “Best-Performing Cities” report. Preliminary data suggests that Medford is likely to retain its No. 1 ranking among best-performing small cities for having a higher concentration of high-tech firms than the national average. 


Read more...

The Human Factor

February 2015
Monday, January 26, 2015
BY BRIAN LIBBY

Matt French opens up South Waterfront.


Read more...

All Rise

March 2015
Friday, February 20, 2015
BY AMY MILSHTEIN | OB CONTRIBUTOR

Don’t just sit there. For a healthy workplace, move up and down — and all around.


Read more...

Downtown flower shop readies for the Valentine's Day rush

The Latest
Monday, February 09, 2015
021015-giffords-thumbBY MEGHAN NOLT

VIDEO: Gifford's Flowers brings family approach to PSU-area shop.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS