Friday, February 12, 2016

Longtime Valley Glass employees become co-owners

Four longtime Valley Glass employees have joined Marc Naylor as the owner of Valley Glass in Idaho Falls and Boise. Although this brought an end to 60 years of family ownership, the movie is anticipated to bring experience, commitment and service that will ensure the company's continued success.

The new owners are Bryon Moore, manager of the Idaho Falls Valley Glass, Paul Robinson, Jared Ellis and Dave Pearl.

Moore and Robinson, both Idaho Falls natives, joined the company more than 30 years ago as home and commercial installers. They worked together as the outside installer crew and in the shop. Moore became manager in 2014.

Ellis, of Rigby, joined the company about 20 years ago, starting as an installer, but graduating into the company’s head sales position.

Pearl has more than 25 years of management experience in the greater Boise area. Like his new partners, Pearl started working for Valley Glass out of high school and worked his way up to manager. He will continue to manage the Boise operation.

Naylor, who lives in Ogden, Utah, is the grandson of company founder William Naylor, who started Valley Glass in 1956. He laid out three basic principles — superior service, customer loyalty and quality products — which the new owners said they are committed to honoring.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

NanoSteel recognized for innovation, gets attention in automotive press

NanoSteel, a company with roots in the Idaho National Laboratory, has been on a roll lately. It has been named to the Cleantech Group’s Top 100 list for the third consecutive year. The list recognizes the top 100 private companies in clean technology and is collated by combining proprietary Cleantech Group research data with over 11,000 nominations and specific input from an expert panel. And in the past week, its Advanced High-Strength Steel has been written up in auto industry publications.

The company, which dates back to 2002, was started by Dan Branagan, who led the INL team that developed Super Hard Steel. Now NanoSteel’s chief technical officer, Branagan took processes and patents he developed at the INL and spun them out for licensing to industry. He was recognized the 2002 Forbes Special Anniversary Big Ideas Issue as “one of the important innovators of our time, one of 15 people who will reinvent the future,” and was selected by Massachusetts Institute of Technology as one of the top 100 “brilliant young innovators” in the world whose work will have “a deep impact on how we live, work, and think in the century to come”.

NanoSteel’s corporate headquarters are in Providence, R.I., but its research and development and applications engineering take place in Idaho Falls. Its products are used in the auto industry, oil and gas, mining, power generation and cement and concrete.

In 2012, BizMojo Idaho reported the company had developed three classes of advanced high-strength steel that they hoped would will give automakers new ways to safely stretch steel in the design of lighter, more fuel-efficient vehicles. Nearly four years later, the progress has been remarkable, said Craig Parsons, who heads the company’s automotive division.

“The AHSS steels we’re developing are cost-efficient to manufacture with unique combinations of high strength and formability not normally associated with steel,” he said, in a Feb. 2 article posted on (Steelmakers are rising to challenges from other automotive materials). “(Our) steels are designed to be manufactured into parts on existing stamping and assembly lines," he said. "Automakers can keep using their current production infrastructure and employees won’t need retraining.”

The company also got a writeup this week in Automotive World, The Shape of Steel to Come: Why Ductility Matters.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Obama mentions INL battery research in weekly address

Idaho National Laboratory battery researchers got a shoutout from President Obama during his weekly address last Saturday. It happens at 2:07. Check it out.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Chesbro Music ups emphasis on homegrown guitar brand

Ben Parker of Chesbro Music
Chesbro Music, one of Idaho Falls’ most enduring businesses, is about to begin the second phase of remodeling its store on Broadway.

While the first phase, completed last fall, dealt with the west side of building’s main floor, this new phase will bring a look to the guitar sales floor. The company is working with Idaho Falls Power and Home Lighting Center to install digital LED lighting. This ought to not only offer better product display but save the company money eventually by significantly reducing their electrical consumption.

While this will shed new light on the Fender, Gretsch, Guild and Taylor guitars in the store, a whole new emphasis will be brought to the store’s own brand, Teton Guitars.

When Chesbro Music says it is the “Home of Teton Guitars” it is the literal truth. Teton Guitars are made in China for Chesbro’s, which sells them not only in its store but in stores across the nation.
The project has proven to be a great success, said Ben Parker, Chesbro Music’s marketing and project manager. It dates back to the 2010 NAMM show in Anaheim, Calif., a huge annual trade show for everybody in the music business.

At the time, Chesbro’s was looking for a company to make inexpensive nylon-string classical guitars for them. At NAMM, they met representatives from a Chinese manufacturer that did nothing but classical guitars, so a tentative deal was made.

“We wanted to see what their mass production and quality would be,” Parker said. When the first 10 guitars came in that November — just in time for Christmas — the results were outstanding.
In addition to a big order, Chesbro’s asked the manufacturer if it would consider expanding into steel-string guitars. “They made a fantastic guitar,” Parker said. This was the cedar-top STS105NT, an dreadnought with a $399 list price.

By the end of 2011, the line had expanded to four classical models and three steel-strings. “We wanted to make something that working musicians could afford that would play well,” Parker said. The most expensive Teton is the newly minted STA150CENT-AR, an electric cutaway that retails for $799.
Chesbro Music has been doing business in the Far East since the early ‘70s, when Joan Chesbro, the president of the company, forged a close relationship with Hoshino, maker of Ibanez guitars and Tama drums. The company was Hoshino’s U.S. wholesaler for decades, and its connections proved valuable when it came time to market Teton Guitars.

Parker said they have Tetons in 200 to 250 stores, including the six new accounts they added at the 2016 NAMM show last month.

One new dealer, Guitar Villa in Bethlehem, Pa., reported that people from the nearby C.F. Martin and Co. factory in Nazareth have come in to buy Tetons. “It makes me feel good to hear a story like that,” Parker said.

The guitars are not intended to compete with premium brands, but a lot of professional players are leaving their Martins and Taylors home and using Tetons onstage. Overall, since 2010 Chesbro’s has sold more than 15,000 Teton Guitars, about a third of them in 2015.

“We’re looking to sell 50 to 60 percent more this year,” Parker said.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Proposals sought for major downtown Idaho Falls projects

An old postcard showing the Bonneville Hotel in earlier days.
The Idaho Falls Redevelopment Agency, which has handled urban renewal in Idaho Falls for more than 25 years, has released a Request for Proposals for two major downtown revitalization projects.

The first project is for the property at Broadway and Memorial Drive, where Savings Center was. The agency is offering the site to potential developers as a location for a multi-story property with commercial and residential uses.

The second project is the renovation of the Bonneville Hotel, at the corner of Constitution Way and Park Avenue. The RFP encourages developers to consider using the building for housing on the upper floors and office or retail uses on the first floor.

The Bonneville Hotel was built in 1927 by a consortium of investors from the community as a hotel and convention center. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and developers could likely be assisted by historic preservation tax credits, low income housing tax credits, and Community Development Block Grants available from other sources.

Proposals are due to the Agency by May 2. Full packets can be obtained by contacting the agency’s executive director, Brad Cramer, also the city of Idaho Falls' community development services director, at (208) 612-8276.

“We hope that creative developers will come forward with innovative ideas and exciting plans for buildings that will encourage further development of downtown Idaho Falls,” said Lee Radford, chairman of the agency.

The Savings Center property is owned by Vern Kelsch, who ran the store for years. The Bonneville is owned by Kent Lott. Radford said the agency is very grateful that the owners have shown a desire to see the properties developed in the best interests of the community.

The Redevelopment Agency has been responsible for the transformation of big sections of Idaho Falls, especially the Idaho Falls Greenbelt. Snake River Landing and Taylor Crossing on the River would not have been possible without tax increment financing administered by the agency.

It began work in the Snake River Urban Renewal District in 1988, reconstructing  Lindsay Boulevard, Utah Avenue, Wardell Avenue, a portion of Milligan Road, and Memorial Drive with the tax proceeds from new development. As part of this street reconstruction, the agency administered funds that allowed the city to install water and sewer lines and storm drainage. It also financed the relocation of transmission lines to spur development east of Interstate 15.

In all, the assessed valuation of the district has increased by over $140 million. The Snake River district will end on Dec. 31, 2018, although the agency may continue to receive the tax increment money into 2019.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Junior Zoo Crew applications being taken

The city of Idaho Falls and the Tautphaus Park Zoo are inviting teen-agers to participate in the Junior Zoo Crew this summer.

The volunteer education program is designed for teens ages 14-17 to assist zoo staff, learning about animal care, conservation, zoo careers and education within a zoo setting. They will assist animal keepers in the Children’s Zoo, care for the animals, answer questions from the public and assist with animal shows and special projects.

Applications are available under the Education tab or under Get Involved on the zoo’s Web site at Applications submitted after the April 1 deadline will not be considered. 

Selected applicants will be asked to undergo an interview. For those accepted into the program, there 
is a participation fee of $85 for Tautphaus Park Zoo Society members and $105 for non-members. Scholarships may be available. The fee goes toward providing training materials, a uniform shirt, name tag and an appreciation party at the end of the season. Fees will be collected during the parent/guardian information meeting on May 7, upon acceptance.

For more information on Idaho Falls education programs or to register for classes, visit the Web site, call (208) 612-8453 or email

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Century 21 High Desert affiliates recognized

Several Century 21 High Desert affiliates have been named by the company’s corporate office to the top 20 producing sales agent and teams in the Rocky Mountain region for 2015.

The rankings were determined by sales production and closed transaction sides among the region’s top award winners. The Rocky Mountain region covers Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Utah, and Colorado.

The following affiliates were named: Ted Whyte, Kevin Taggart, Patrick Malone, Luke Stallings, Marge Foster, Karen Cameron; and Synergy Group, Anne Mitchell and Beth Ferrara.

“These agents managed to surpass even these standards of excellence to provide their customers with exemplary service and we are very proud of them," said Kerry Howell, owner of Century 21 High Desert, in a news release.