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|Articles - February 2014|
|Thursday, January 23, 2014|
BY LINDA BAKER
Bridgetown Natural Foods had been making a variety of natural and whole-grain products for several years when the owners, husband-and-wife team Dan Klock and Kelly Flatley Klock, realized many of the employees didn’t know how to use some of the core ingredients — oats, quinoa bran — in their own cooking. So this past spring, Bridgetown, based in Southeast Portland, launched an employee-wellness program aimed at incentivizing line workers to eat more nutritious meals.
The focal point is a voluntary on-site cooking class held once a quarter. Participating employees are paid in “Bridgetown Dough,” tokens redeemable at the Lents International Farmers Market or a biweekly on-site farm stand with produce provided by local growers, including Bridgetown neighbor Zenger Farm.
“The underlying reason is to give employees healthier food,” Kelly says. “We’re a growing company,” she adds. “We need our employees to be healthy.”
On a recent Wednesday afternoon, about 20 line workers gathered in the manufacturer’s R&D room. There Bronwen Jones-Broderick, director of business development and a former personal chef, got things started with a quick PowerPoint offering a few frugal shopping tips: Buy pork shoulder on Sunday, then use leftovers to make posole, barbecue pork sandwiches and other meals for the rest of the week.
Next on the agenda was an overview of the menu and associated costs: A frittata cost $0.58 per serving; orange, almond and pomegranate salad, $0.60; and whole-wheat zucchini muffins, $0.23. Teams of employees then set to work whisking, chopping, stirring — and adding aesthetic touches, such as fashioning flowers out of green peppers and tomatoes. “I’m always blown away by the presentation,” Kelly says.
In addition to handing out tokens as compensation for the class, the company issues Bridgetown Dough for outstanding workplace performance. Collectively, the different elements of the program cost about $1,000 per month and will likely expand as the company continues to grow. “It’s going to have to take a new form,” Kelly says. But such is the beauty of being business owners. “We have such latitude to create new programs.”
Since many employees are of Vietnamese, Russian and Hispanic descent, Bridgetown works with Zenger Farm to provide culturally appropriate vegetables, such as leeks and bok choy; workers are also encouraged to suggest native meals for the cooking class. To build community — working a factory line is isolating work — Bridgetown invites shift supervisors to attend the cooking sessions.
“We’re a family business, and this allows us all to get around the family table,” says Kelly, who also attends each class.
A health and wellness initiative, Bridgetown Dough has a certain self-serving component: nurturing a new generation of consumers for Bridgetown products and other natural foods. But the program is also part of a larger trend linking healthy eating with employee well-being, recruitment and retention. Consider Chris King Precision Components, the Oregon bike parts manufacturer that recently hired Chris DiMinno, the former chef of acclaimed Portland restaurant Clyde Common, to run its company cafeteria and events programs.
Says Kelly: “It’s all part of a larger corporate commitment to feeding employees well.”
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER
In 2010 Vanessa Keitges and several investors purchased Portland-based Columbia Green Technologies, a green-roof company. The 13-person firm has a 200% annual growth rate, exports 30% of its product to Canada and received its first infusion of venture capital in 2014 from Yaletown Venture Partners. CEO Keitges, 40, a Southern Oregon native who serves on President Obama’s Export Council, talks about market innovation, scaling small business and why Oregon is falling behind in green-roof construction.
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER
Dean of the Atkinson Graduate School of Management, Willamette University
Tuesday, July 14, 2015
The Big One serves as an allegory for Portland, a city that earns plaudits for lifestyle and amenities but whose infrastructure is, literally, crumbling.
Friday, July 10, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER
Market of Choice is on a tear. In 2012 the 35-year-old Eugene-based grocery chain opened a central kitchen/distribution center in its hometown. The market opened a third Portland store in the Cedar Mill neighborhood this year; a Bend outpost broke ground in March. A fourth Portland location is slated for the inner southeast “LOCA” development, a mixed-use project featuring condos and retail. Revenues in 2014 were $175 million, a double-digit increase over 2013. CEO Rick Wright discusses growth, market trends and how he keeps new “foodie” grocery clerks happy.
Wednesday, August 05, 2015
BY KEN MAES
A huge migration from Northern California has contributed to average 16% growth per year since 1990.
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 20, 2015
BY DAN COOK
The state’s angel investing fund gets hammered in Salem.
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Attendance, breakfast buffet, materials, certificate of attendance and parking are all complimentary on behalf of the firm.
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The Oregon Entrepreneurs Network (OEN) is pleased to announce 16 finalists — from over 60 nominees — for the 2015 OEN Tom Holce Entrepreneurship Awards.