Friday, September 30, 2011

Honoring the memory of World War II

I was privileged to attend the opening of the Museum of Idaho's World War II exhibit Thursday, and it got me thinking about the people who fought fascism and won.

In my years with the Post Register, I interviewed plenty of WWII vets and their families. Memorial Day, Pearl Harbor Day, Veterans Day ... invariably the assignment would be to find a vet and conduct an interview. Being a WWII history buff who never gets tired of hearing the stories, the assignments usually came my way. A couple of them stand out in my memory.

One WWII piece I can recall was about Lloyd Gneiting of Rigby, an 89-year-old vet who'd gone into Germany with Patton, liberating the Buchenwald concentration camp. He had photos that had miraculously made it home, which, horrible as they were, could only hint at what he'd seen with his own eyes.

The interview took place in 2003, a few months after the Iraq War had begun, and Lloyd was having a hard time with his memories, which were being triggered by everything he was seeing on TV. There was no Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in 1945, it was called shell shock. For Lloyd, the memories he'd suppressed for nearly 60 years were coming back with a vengeance. It was a hard story to write, and a reminder that not all was roses for the men and women who came home from Europe and the Pacific. Judging from this YouTube video from last Memorial Day it appears he is doing better than when I saw him.


The second story that comes to mind -- a happier one -- is the one I did in 2004 after receiving a letter from a woman in Rambouillet, France, asking if we could find any relatives of Harold Grout of Firth, a combat engineer who'd been killed in an ambush in August 1944 during the Allied drive toward Paris. They were planning to add his name and a few others to a monument, and wanted to invite family members.

With legwork, I was able to locate Grout's widow, Melva, who had remarried after the war but had two daughters by her first husband. In the end, the entire family went to France for the dedication and the two daughters, who had only a very dim memory of their father, were able to visit his grave at the Allied cemetery on the coast of Brittany. Melva also discovered she was entitled to a pension from the Veterans Administration, a nice bonus for an 88-year old widow on a fixed income.

Much has been made of the "Greatest Generation," people who came home to enjoy the post-war economic boom and the best standard of living the American middle class has probably ever had. I think of my father-in-law, Ed Juell, who served in the Pacific and then went to work 42 years as an engineer for Westinghouse, raising a family and sending five children to the University of Utah.

What strikes me is that the children of the Depression did not preoccupy themselves with big houses, flat-screen TVs in every room and every kind of toy easy credit could buy. I hear about how tough times are today, and I know they are for many, but I think about choices people make and the men and women born in the second and third decades of the 20th century. They came out of the Depression to save the world, many of them sacrificing their lives, many more paying with arms, legs and their central nervous systems.

After the war (and thanks in great part to the G.I. Bill), they enjoyed prosperity, not to mention security, working for employers that viewed them as people to be developed, not "full-time equivalencies" to be cut in the name of short-term profit.

They wanted the best for their children and future generations. As they leave us, our best hope for honoring them is by being the best people we can be, embracing their ideals and committing ourselves to the liberty they fought to preserve.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Lucy's opens Hitt Road pizzeria

Lucy's Pizzeria has opened a second location in the greater Idaho Falls area, at 2489 S. 25th East, formerly Sundae's Eats and Treats.

Owner Jeff Padigimus said they had been looking for an Ammon location when Sundae's owner Marshall Egan approached them (for those of you who miss it, Lucy's is still carrying Sundae's ice cream and a few of their desserts.) Padigimus jumped at the prospect of 3,000 square feet on one of the busiest thoroughfares in the area.

A native of Roberts, he started Lucy's there in June 2009. The Idaho Falls location, at 725 E. Anderson opened in November 2009.

His idea at first was to do hot-and-ready pizza part time, but the slowdown in the construction industry (in which he was employed) made him think again and so did his introduction to Rich Franco, who showed him how to make New York style pizza. In fact, Lucy's is named after Franco's bulldog, Lucy, and the pizza ovens and equipment came from Franco's kitchen on First Street.

Word of mouth has been building since the Hitt Road store opened Sept. 15, and they have done a mailer and started advertising on the radio. Padigimus (the name is Lithuanian, in case you're curious) said he is optimistic that they can make a go of it in two locations, especially since what they offer is so different from anything anyone else has.

In true NYC fashion, Lucy's sells pizza by the slice, which makes them an automatic lunch destination in my book.

To look at the menu, check out the web page, http://lucysnypizza.net/.

Ad agency buys downtown I.F. building

MCS Advertising has not only got a new address in downtown Idaho Falls, but a new building.

Agency owner Lisa Fischbach said they were determined to keep an actual address downtown. “We’d been to a seminar on advertising agency principles, and they really advocated owning your own place,” she said. “We love it downtown and want to be part of the community. We want to have a real location.”

While visiting Grandma’s Relics on B Street (indulging her passion for vintage plastic and glass), owners Debbie Hipps and Elaine Gray told her they and their silent partner, Karin Fry, were looking for someone to buy their building, which is on the corner of Park Avenue and B Street, next door to the Center Theatre. After some negotiation, the deal was done.

Fischbach said they’ve taken to calling their property “Block 22” after its legal description, which dates back to 1884. They have gotten lots of paperwork that dates back to then, including the original warranty deed. “I can’t believe this came all this way with all these owners,” she said.

MCS has its offices on the second floor. Fishbach and her real estate agent, Kevin Cutler, are looking for tenants for the street level. They are also looking into finding grant money that will allow them to pull off the plastic siding that was put on in the 1960s and restore the building to its original splendor. The found an excellent picture in a Polk’s City Directory from 1920, on which they plan to base their efforts.

The agency’s clients include Blacker’s, Taylor Group Automotive, MicroServ, Idaho Falls Regional Airport and Doug Andrus Trucking. It’s web address is http://www.mightymcs.com.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Novayx partner appointed to head Idaho Department of Commerce

I'm going to be meeting with Jeff this morning, so there will be more. In the meantime, here is the story that broke on the wire:

Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter announced the appointment today of Jeff Sayer – an eastern Idaho businessman with extensive experience in private-sector financing, strategy and leadership – as the new director of the Idaho Department of Commerce.

Sayer will begin work Monday, October 3rd. He succeeds Don Dietrich, who resigned in August. David Fulkerson, deputy administrator and State financial officer at the Division of Financial Management, is serving as interim director.

“I am eager to reach out to every corner of our state and tap into the great ideas and incredible talent we have here. I’m passionate about the possibilities and excited to be part of a team that can help Idaho continue toward that great potential,” Sayer said.

“Jeff’s diverse, bottom-line experience in private business and his commitment to Idaho make him a great choice to join my team. He brings an extraordinary skill set to this position that’s so crucial to helping businesses create career opportunities for Idaho citizens,” Otter said. “Jeff has invaluable experience in applying responsible business principles to achieving strategic goals. He understands what employers need to succeed – because he’s been one – and he will take the reins at Commerce surrounded by like-minded colleagues throughout my Cabinet as devoted as he is to Idaho’s success and prosperity.”

Sayer has 20 years of experience in building, leading and growing companies. He most recently has been managing partner of Novayx Group, a business consultancy, and previously was president and chief financial officer for Mountain View Hospital in Idaho Falls. He started out as an entrepreneurial specialist with Ernst & Young in the Silicon Valley, and then was engaged in various Utah-based technology, construction, and financial services companies before settling in Idaho Falls. Sayer also served on the Governor’s Select Committee on Health Care and various boards of directors, including the Idaho Falls Auditorium District, Hospice of Eastern Idaho, and the Idaho Governor’s Cup.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

J. Robb Brady, 1919-2011

Hearing about the death of a former employer, how many Americans would feel like they lost a friend? Not many, I would suppose, but J. Robb Brady was different.

Robb, publisher of the Post Register from 1977 to 1988, died Sunday at age 92. No one would say he went before his time. His rest is won, but he will be missed.

Any one of us can be good, but Robb simply was good -- although his humility would prevent him from acknowledging a statement such as this.

I came to work for the Post Register in 1981 as the paper's central Idaho staff writer based in Challis. Robb, a leading voice on environmental issues in Idaho, was concerned about the Thompson Creek molybdenum mine that was being dug between Clayton and Stanley, near his beloved White Clouds. He wanted a reporter there to keep tabs on whether the company was keeping its commitments. Robb didn't just put his money where his mouth was. He put it where his heart was.

Two years ago, while I was still working for the Post Register, I was asked to write a story about him turning 90. He didn't see the point of it, and the assignment eventually lost its shelf life. We had set up an appointment, but he had other things to do: tennis, inline skating, meeting with old friends. Most importantly, he was taking care of his wife, Rose, who was ailing.

Rose died in January this year, and frankly I didn't see Robb holding on for too long after that. They had been married 69 years. While I mourn his passing, I rejoice to think he is reunited with her -- and probably fixing a White Russian for her as I write this.

I can't imagine Robb resting in peace. He was much too active a person for that. So let's imagine the Kingdom of Heaven as he reflected it -- green hills, sunshine at Grand Targhee, good company and unlimited kindness -- and conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of his memory until we rejoin him in the fullness of time.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Caterers open restaurant downtown

The name remains 3's Co. Catering, but Christine Simon, Deana Brower and Sarah Lange have opened a location in downtown Idaho Falls, 368 A Street, next door to Great Harvest Bread Co.
"We needed more space," Simon said. "We were having to turn away jobs."

3's Co. has been catering events for ARTI and the Idaho Falls Arts Council, so the downtown location makes extra sense. They also do weddings and special events. On Oct. 12, they will be doing a food and beer pairing in collaboration with Deschutes Brewery.

Since opening Sept. 13, their cafe is open for lunch Monday through Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Starting Nov. 1, they will be open they will be open for bunch the first Sunday of every month. It will be served family style, one menu, one price.

The menu will be changing every few weeks. They plan to focus on seasonal foods made with local produce whenever possible, Brower said.

Does what they make have a name? "You can call it 'clean comfort food' or "slow food,'" Simon said. "Everything we make is fresh and made from scratch."

The downtown phone number is (208) 522-1510. The Web address is http://www.3scompanycatering.net/ and the e-mail is 3scompanycatering@gmail.com

Sunday, September 18, 2011

It depends on what your definition of 'person' is

I don't usually see this as a place to comment on politics, but if a candidate makes a statement that pertains to business and I know a thing or two that might shed light, I don't mind tiptoeing into the minefield. We all need a little excitement now and then.

Mitt Romney's recent comment, "Corporations are people, my friend," left some people scratching their heads. Was he talking about people who work for corporations, or folks who sit on their boards? CEOs are people, too, dang it! Very rich people, but people nonetheless.

But on the way home from work recently I heard an item on the radio explaining "corporate personhood," both the issue and its history in this country. Was this Romney's allusion?

OK, history time. Though hardly sexy, the concept of corporations as persons with actual rights under the U.S. Constitution is a hotly debated issue, especially when it comes to issues like campaign finance and free speech.

Back in 1819, when the saber tooth tiger was still roaming Idaho (I'm kidding!), the U.S. Supreme Court decided in Dartmouth College v. Woodward that corporations were entitled to have contracts honored as if they had been entered into by natural persons. This set the legal train in motion, and the big watershed came in 1886, in Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad. That decision recognized corporations as persons with constitutional rights under the 14th Amendment.

The decision was unanimous and uncontroversial at the time, but its ramifications were huge. Justice William O. Douglas wrote in 1949, "the Santa Clara case becomes one of the most momentous of all our decisions. [...] Corporations were now armed with constitutional prerogatives."

So there you have it, for what it's worth. It's Sunday afternoon, and time for rumination. We'll get back to new restaurants and businesses this week.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Like me. Follow me. What gives?

What is it that makes social media feel so desperate sometimes? I mean, I feel sort of silly asking people to become my "followers," even though that's what it takes to give this blog the veneer of legitimacy. Likewise on Facebook, I'm imploring hundreds to "Like" me.

When I think about my old Shoptalk column in the paper, I appreciate now the luxury of landing on 20,000 doorsteps every Monday. I didn't have to ask you to let me into your homes. Moreover, you were paying to have it with your Wheaties. All that is changed now.

I'm happy to report that BizMojo Idaho is on Facebook now, thanks in great part to Jared at Novayx. Without him I'd still be rooting around like a blind hog under an oak tree. Now anything I post here will appear on a corresponding FB page, and anyone who has liked my page will automatically see it. Pretty slick.

Checking the stats Saturday morning, I see we've been viewed 277 times (not counting myself) since Sept. 11, when we "went live." BizMojo Idaho now has 20 followers, whom I feel obligated to not disappoint.

Anyway, please, please, pretty please Like us on Facebook. There will be lots of good things to read this week.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Areva denies Bloomberg report that I.F. plant construction may be frozen

This link goes to my old Post Register colleague Rocky Barker's blog for the Idaho Statesman. I imagine the subject is of local interest:


Here's another link on this, from Dan Yurman's blog, Idaho Samizdat: Nuke Notes, which covers political and economic news about nuclear energy and nonproliferation issues:


Chick-fil-A plans Dec. 8 opening for Hitt Road location

Compared to a few years ago, the proliferation of restaurants around here has slowed to a crawl. Nevertheless, I was curious (as I am sure you were) to find out when Chick-fil-A will be opening at the old Fazoli's location, 3003 S. 25th East (Hitt Road).

The company's Web site (www.chick-fil-a.com) reported Nov. 17, the same day it will be opening locations in Baton Rogue, La.; Fort Worth, Texas; Fullerton, Calif.; and Aurora, Colo., but we have since learned from the franchisee that they are shooting for Dec. 8.
Chick-fil-A dates back to 1946, when S. Truett Cathy started a restaurant called Dwarf Grill (later Dwarf House) in Hapeville, Ga. His brainstorm for the chicken sandwich came from the idea of creating a quick way to serve food to workers at a nearby Ford plant (now demolished). He discovered that pressure cooking the chicken in peanut oil allowed for a fast serving time. The sandwich came with two pickles because that was the only condiment he had in the pantry when he created the sandwich.

Cathy (still the company's chairman) started Chick-fil-A in 1967. For years it was found mainly in shopping mall food courts, but since 1986 it has focused more on free standing and drive-through locations.

In 2010 it reported $3.5 billion in sales. As of September this year it had 1,583 locations in 39 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. The Idaho Falls location will be its second in Idaho (the first is in Boise).

Saturday, September 10, 2011

New bike shop opens downtown

Dave Wilding has been self-employed at a number of things, like fences and remodeling, but it's bicycles he has always been passionate about. When he decided last year that Idaho Falls needed a bike shop that would cater to people like himself, he started laying plans for what is now Dave's Bike Shop, at 341 West Broadway.

Although from a bottom line standpoint it's all about selling bicycles, there's more to it. "People who are into bikes, they want to visit. They want to know what's going on," he said. "They want to hear about the latest, the greatest, the lightest, the fastest stuff."

Wilding carries two main brands, Felt and Jamis. As for his selection, he carries bikes for little kids, BMX, townies, cruisers, hybrids, mountain bikes and road bikes.
He recognizes the mountain bikes from $200 to $400 are going to be his bread and butter, but wants to carry everything "from low end to high end."

Since opening Sept. 1, he estimates he's been seeing about 20 customers a day. He is looking to get the word out about his repair person, Aaron Arave, who has been fixing bikes for 15 year. "He is the only UBI certified mechanic in town," Wilding said. "We feel very lucky to have him."

If you want to find out more, here's his Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/DavesBikeShopIdahoFalls. Feel free to like him. Everybody likes to be liked, don't they?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Oswald Service and Repair relocating

New construction in Idaho Falls has been so anemic that anytime a foundation gets poured I want to know what's going on. While hanging out at the Frosty Gator in May, I couldn't help but notice that something was happening where the Dick Sayer car lot had been.

It turned out to be Oswald Service and Repair, a Yellowstone Avenue standby since the early 1950s. For years, the Oswald Sinclair station was one of the few places in Idaho Falls where someone would pump your gas for you. After they stopped pumping gas in 2008, Kevin Oswald, who took over the business from his father, Blaine, chose to focus solely on repair work.

Almost right away they knew they were going to have to operate in a bigger space. The station was built in the 40s, when cars were smaller. "If we had to work on a longbed pickup in the winter, the back would be sticking out with the door open," he said.

Although he would have liked to have stayed at the corner of Constitution and Yellowstone, the lot sits over an underground parking garage, which would have presented a problem with new construction.
Oswald said he was driving to work one morning when he noticed the old Sayer lot was for sale. "A lightbulb went off over my head," he said. "We love downtown and want to stay there. And by relocating a block away we won't be dislocating customers. We have very, very loyal customers."
The new shop, scheduled to open in October, is 3,500 square feet with six bays and doors 12 feet high. "We'll be able to handle longer, taller vehicles," he said. While the garage currently employs four people, including Oswald, they could be adding a fifth, depending on how business goes in the new location.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Picking up where I left off

I suppose there's a bit of presumption on my part getting back into the saddle, but over the past three years enough of you have told me you miss my writing to make me believe my name is still worth something.

My old approach to the weekly business column was three-pronged: pay attention to what's going on around town (new construction, signs, etc.); answer people's questions, no matter how trivial or far-out they seemed; and keep the tone personal and conversational. That approach worked, and I see no reason to do anything different. The timing will be different, however. Instead of once a week in print, our plan is to update BizMojo Idaho all the time -- online, on your iPhones and Droids, on Facebook and Twitter.

This isn't to say that we have given up on print. Not at all. I still believe that print has a comfort element that appeals to people of all ages. I think of my niece's husband, Stu, who lives in New York City and rides the train to work every day. He's a sports fan, and when it comes to reading the scores and the stories from the previous night's games it's not his phone or his laptop he looks at, it's a newspaper. Yeah, one of those.

So you will be seeing BizMojo Idaho in print (we're not sure where yet), not only because we respect your desire to get ink on your fingers but because we are confident our presence in print will spark your interest in finding us online. Then our sponsors will find value in our product to the point where they will give it continued support, and we will go on to establish a reputation as the leading source of timely business news in eastern Idaho.

I would be remiss at this stage not to credit Novayx Group (www.novayx.com) and Jeff Sayer for their support. Novayx offers customized financial services to businesses, and as a new company it has an interest in getting its name and brand out in front of as many people as possible. Jeff has enough imagination to think that I can help him do that, bless his heart.

Just as in the past, I am open anything you might have to tell me or any questions you have.