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|Articles - Jan/Feb 2012|
|Thursday, January 19, 2012|
Page 1 of 2
By Dan Cook
John Miller recalls a moment when things clicked into place for him. He was 10, traversing a forest road outside of Stayton with his father, a forester. “On one side, I saw trees he had planted 30 years ago, a healthy forest. On the other side of the road was a stump patch, still there years after the major timber company that owned it had cut the trees and run. That sort of set the tone for me.”
Today, Miller presides over a family of companies under the Wildwood/Mahonia name. From offices in a renovated schoolhouse just off I-5 in south Salem, Miller and five employees, including vice president Travis Henry, manage a vineyard; a blueberry processing facility; a native plant nursery; residential, commercial and industrial developments; and an investment portfolio. All are driven by the triple bottom line philosophy — people, planet, profit — that he espouses.
“When we talk about the triple bottom line, we’re talking about the overall sustainability of a business. It means a business must be economically sustainable as well as socially and environmentally sustainable,” he says.
Indeed, Miller, president and owner of Wildwood/Mahonia, says the diverse nature of his holdings allowed Wildwood/Mahonia to continue to show a profit even during the worst days of the recent recession. “Over the past five years, Wildwood/Mahonia has increased its holdings by approximately 10%, remarkable in these challenging times,” he says.
Although environmental impact might be considered by most a poor driver of business decisions, Miller says in the long run those decisions lead to a profitable outcome.
“For instance, I tend to fit buildings to the landscape rather than clearing the land — which is easier of course,” Miller says. “But intuitively you know it will be a better project if you look at the environmental piece. You make more money doing it right and there’s some neat social aspects to it, too.”
Miller, 64, is acknowledged to be among Oregon’s foremost environmental advocates. Since launching his first sustainable project in the 1970s — a residential development in south Salem — the “social aspects” have become an ever greater focus of his work. In addition to his for-profit ventures, he is deeply involved in nonprofit work throughout the state.
He’s on the board of EcoTrust in Portland, works with the Clean River Institute in Tualatin, supports a children’s relief nursery in Salem founded by his wife, Sue, and plays an active role in SOLV, a statewide volunteer organization that focuses on environmental stewardship projects. He recently helped SOLV complete a $500,000 fundraising campaign to secure a matching grant from another noted Oregon philanthropist, John Gray. Children’s issues are another high priority for Miller; he and his wife have four children in their blended family.
To draw wider attention to the health of Oregon’s rivers, Miller helped found and fund the Honoring Our Rivers anthology, which publishes writing and artwork by Oregon students about the state’s waterways. Honoring Our Rivers is now a project of the Willamette Partnership and sponsors public readings from the books to cement the bond between literature, art and the environment.
Even his nonprofit work is driven by the triple bottom line, for he expects his nonprofit and for-profit partners alike to use their resources wisely and effectively.
“He likes to see these things make money,” says Tyson Keever, general manager of Sequential Pacific Biodiesel and co-founder and president of Sequential Biofuels. (Miller has a stake in the former.) “It’s very important to John that we be accountable.”
That sort of collaboration extends to government agencies as well. Working with the city of Salem last year, Miller was able to help secure a loan from the city to refurbish a warehouse for two emerging food processing companies, Wandering Aengus Ciderworks and Organic Fresh Fingers.
“The City of Salem’s innovative loan program helped two growing businesses create jobs, expand and stay in Salem,” Miller says. “The businesses have new equipment, are in larger, more energy- efficient spaces and partnered well with Wildwood because of their sustainable values and ties to Oregon agriculture.”
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
BY GARY THILL | PHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN
A storied institution climbs down from the ivory tower.
Thursday, August 20, 2015
BY JOE CORTRIGHT
We get the education we deserve.
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR
One of the hottest new investment trends has proven quite lucrative for some companies.
Wednesday, August 26, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER
A new co-working model disrupts office sharing, child care and work-life balance as we know it.
Friday, July 10, 2015
BY DAN COOK
The Affordable Care Act has triggered a rush on health care plan redesign, a process fraught with hidden costs and consequences.
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY KIM MOORE | PHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN
A New York floral and gift business takes on the iconic Harry & David brand.
Thursday, August 06, 2015
Car and ride sharing services have taken urban areas by storm. Low-income and suburban communities are left at the curb.
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Transforming the culture of Oregon’s educational leadership.
The Board dismissed a petition related to efforts to unionize the Northwestern University football team.
Every once in a while we receive a letter in the (fictional) mailbag that is tough to describe and quite compelling. This week, Isabel, the new HR manager at LabCo (and someone who is new to HR), wants to know whether she may fire the owner’s son for having an Oregon medical marijuana card. In passing, Isabel also makes a number of alarming admissions about her motivation. Here is Isabel’s nerve-racking question and our response to it.
Oregon Sick Leave is here, and changes to the federal white-collar worker regulations are on the way. This workshop will prepare you for both. We invite you to participate in an interactive discussion on how to start planning now for the future impact on your operations and finances.
Presented by OEN + CENTRL + YESpdx.
This Roundtable will cover numerous issues under the employer "shared responsibility" rules of the Affordable Care Act, including how to track the "full-time" status of variable-hour employees, temporary or seasonal employees, and employees who experience a change in status or a break in service. Additionally, we will provide a brief overview of Code sections 6055 and 6056, which require most mid-sized and large employers to submit their first information reports to the IRS in early 2016 regarding the health insurance coverage being offered to employees. We invite you to participate in an interactive discussion on how to prepare for the future impact of the shared responsibility rules on your operations and finances.