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The evolution of a ranch

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Articles - Jan/Feb 2012
Thursday, January 19, 2012
Jeanne Carver and her Imperial Yarn products.
// Photo by Randy Johnson

Over the years that I have been editing Oregon Business, I’ve encountered Jeanne Carver on many occasions, the first being at a rural development convention about five years ago where she spoke passionately about her efforts to develop a fiber business from the historic breed of Columbia sheep on her 140-year-old Imperial Stock Ranch near Maupin.

Since then, I’ve watched Carver work nonstop to build a business on those all-white sheep that were bred by the ranch’s founder, Richard Hinton. A few years ago, I attended the runway debut of clothes made from her wool, and since then have been getting regular updates in her e-newsletter about ranch life and the yarn operation.

After years of seeing Carver in action, I thought it was time to take a more holistic look at how she and her husband, Dan, and their family make the economy on their historic ranch work. Their story is also the story of how many family ranches in Oregon — and in the nation — are finding ways to evolve their operations in order to survive.

There was a steady drip of news late last year that an Oregon company had been sold: Rejuvenation, McCormick & Schmick’s, Kettleman Bagel Co. They piled on top of other high-profile outright buyouts or majority stake sells such as Stumptown Coffee, YoCream, Dagoba Chocolate, Jeld-Wen and Harry & David.

Was this good news? Bad news? As always, the reality is not so black and white, as managing editor Linda Baker discovered in her cover story. We like to keep our managing editor busy around here, so in the March issue Baker will start a new feature that focuses on the considerable startup business activity in the state. Also, check out her new weekly blog.

We’ve also revamped our e-newsletter, adding more news links and original stories and perking up the design. It's informative and it’s free. (Go to OregonBusiness.com/enewsletter to sign up.) No big buyout dreams here.

Robin Doussard



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