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Page 6 of 6The Car Czar
Scott Thomason bought the family car dealership from his father in 1983 and built it into a nine-new-car dealership on the strength of some very strong TV ads.
By the early 1990s Thomason Auto Group was one of Oregon’s top privately held companies, with more sales than the Tonkin Family and Lithia Motors, and Thomason’s bespectacled face was becoming a celebrity in its own right. A series of somewhat surreal television ads produced by the Portland agency Nerve featured Thomason’s grinning floating head exhorting the public to buy, buy, BUY. His kicker: “If you don’t come see me today, I can’t save you any money.”
But the car czar ran into a variety of troubles in the early 2000s. He was fined $2.5 million by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. He paid the state attorney general $550,000 to settle a pile of consumer complaints. Even his unmistakable face worked against him when he attempted to flee a car accident only to be recognized by bystanders and charged with hit and run. Thomason left Oregon for California in 2003 and became part owner of a new collection of dealerships.
Thomason and his wife, Debbie Autzen, paid $8.5 million for a 10,500-square-foot mansion in Sausalito in 2007. They sold it for $6.8 million last April.
The graying of Oregon
It is tempting to focus on the rogues and the swashbucklers, the booms and the busts, because they tend to make the liveliest stories. But most of the business leaders who define Oregon prefer to work out of the spotlight, bringing people together to get things done, creating wealth through entrepreneurship and giving back through philanthropy. That is how John Gray has done business for decades.
Gray was a World War II veteran who rose through the ranks to become CEO of Oregon Saw Chain Manufacturing Co. He was founder of the chainsaw giant Omark and chairman of Tektronix. But he is best known for his distinctive real estate developments: Salishan on the coast, Sunriver in Central Oregon, John’s Landing in Portland and Skamania Lodge in the Gorge.
His ability to build resorts in harmony with the natural landscape and Oregon’s complex land-use laws set high standards and brought sizable rewards.
Gray sold Omark to Blount in 1985 but he has never really retired from business. In addition to his real estate ventures he has organized in-depth talks between warring sides in the land-use debate and distinguished himself as a generous supporter of a broad array of charities, from the Boy Scouts to the Portland Art Museum to Reed College. Many of his donations have been made anonymously.
Now 91 years old, Gray was the 2010 recipient of the Vollum Award for Lifetime Philanthropic Achievement.
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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.