Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Five Wives couldn't have bought better publicity

T-shirts and hoodies are now for sale. Go figure.
Who's going to be picking up a bottle of Five Wives vodka on their next trip to Wyoming or Utah? I don't think the Ogden company that makes this stuff could have bought better publicity than what it's been given by the Idaho State Liquor Division.


Also, you can now buy a "Free the Five Wives" T-shirt or hoodie: http://www.ogdensownstore.com/product/freewives. I predict we'll be seeing a few of these, maybe in time for the Beer Fest, which is this Saturday.

Exit question: How ironic would it have been if Five Wives were made at the Rigby distillery that makes the tastefully named Teton Glacier and Blue Ice brands?

The secret to a great pitch is passion

Rick Ritter of TechConnect in Boise recently had a write up on the Tech Cocktail Web site on the secret of making a great business development pitch. I don't know if there are any real secrets. If I had to sum it up in one sentence it would be this: You have to have passion for your product if you're going to make a great pitch. But it's a good read, and I encourage you to follow the link.

Here are the bullet points on the difference between good and great:

  • A good pitch demonstrates your competencies; a great pitch showcases your passions.
  • A good pitch demonstrates your product; a great pitch establishes your unique selling proposition. 
  • A good pitch talks about the problem; a great pitch creates a memorable narrative.
  • A good pitch is complete; a great pitch is compelling.
  • A good pitch is detail-oriented, a great pitch is concise.

And here's the link: http://techcocktail.com/5-ways-perfect-finance-pitch-2012-05#.T6GiTr90tdo

Friday, May 25, 2012

What Warren Buffett and I have in common

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett
It looks like Warren Buffett and I have something in common. No, we're not both filthy rich, but it appears we both have a belief in community newspapers.

Buffet, who in 2009 said he would not buy a newspaper under any circumstance, has changed his tune, as evidenced by this story: http://paidcontent.org/2012/05/17/why-warren-buffett-is-buying-newspapers/. Given that the newspaper industry has been in an open boat in the middle of an unfriendly ocean for several years, this has to be taken as good news. Or does it?

Buffett, who according to legend started Berkshire Hathaway with $4,000 he made as a paperboy in Omaha, did not make a fortune by being sentimental. For those of you who've stayed on this page rather than going to the link (or as newspaper people would call it, the "jump"), here are a few observations and comments that got my attention:

The experience of small towns and counties has been different. In these places, a lack of print and online competition has allowed newspapers to hold onto some of their traditional monopoly power.
“In these communities, the local paper is the sole source of everyday news — from high school sports, local events or obituaries,” says Gordon Crovitz, former publisher of the Wall Street Journal and founder of digital subscription service, Press+.

Gordon Borrell (comment): (Newspapers) will bounce back. That prediction (which we thought would happen last year) is starting to come true, though it’s actually predicted to be more of a flattening than a bounceback. While they grow ad revenues over the next five years, they actually lose market share. Still, all the trimming since 2008 has made them a leaner, and thus more profitable, business. ... The size of newspapers Mr. Buffett is buying are perfect: Dominant newspapers in midsize markets with very little competition from smaller suburban newspapers. They have a strong market niche, and I don’t suspect we’ll see the death of newspapers (with the exception, perhaps, of large metros) anytime soon.

Dmitriy (comment): I don’t get Buffet on this move. He may get a modest profit given how low price he had to pay but this is not the business you want to be in if you want to keep minting the coins for the shareholders for years to come.

Ballco (comment): What you don’t understand is the great cash flow from old media products. Newspaper subscribers pay you 3 to 12 months in advance. That lets you keep a large amount of cash around to invest. Buffett doesn’t seem to have any problem finding profitable places to put cash. 10-year Treasury bills are paying 1.7% right now. 5% return for 10 years from the newspapers seems like a pretty good alternative.

Matthew (comment): Commenters and commentators may come to the internet, but without quality content and trust within the community they will not pose a threat to the position of newspapers (at least for mindshare among readers).

Tony McFarlane (comment): Now the speculators have lifted their bloody snouts from the trough, and they see these smaller papers doing just fine. So what do they do? They bundle them with bigger media entities, and make off like bandits. I gotta hand it to Buffet for being the first to see it, because soon, like carpetbaggers in Atlanta, the rest of the vulture capitalists will soon swarm in and swallow up all these local papers that communities do indeed rely on. And what will happen to these bastions of truth, once the greed destroys another once-lucrative market? Bah! You mark my words: local papers will start getting flushed before the decade is out. And of course, the bastards will tell you it’s all about new media, while they tweet from their golden toilets.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Developer eyes mid-July opening for Idaho Falls Marriott Residence Inn

The scene this week in the lobby of the Idaho Falls Marriott Residence Inn. Developers of the hotel say they hope to have it open in early July.
Earlier this year, the plan was for the Idaho Falls Marriott Residence Inn to be open by Memorial Day weekend, but that has not come to pass. The developer said Wednesday that they expect to have the work done by early July, but probably not in time for the Fourth of July celebration.

"There have been a lot of details that have needed our attention," said John Brunt of Woodbury Corp., the Salt Lake City development company in charge of the project.. "What we're most concerned with is that our guests have the best experience possible."

Construction of the hotel began more than four years ago, but stalled out when McNeil Development, the original company in charge, ran into recession- and credit-related difficulties. After they re-started the project, Woodbury discovered a lot of changes Marriott has brought to its building standards that weren't in place when the project started.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Daylight Donuts to open on 17th Street in Idaho Falls

Those of you who mourned the departure of Daylight Donuts can take heart. A new Daylight Donuts will be opening in early June at 1225 E. 17th St., next door to Staker Floral.

Jim Feuling, who runs I Buy Gold, the business in the building at the moment, said he has always liked Daylight Donuts. When he saw an opportunity to open a new one (the shop in Taylor's Crossing closed this past winter), "I decided to grab it," he said.

Daylight Donuts was begun in Tulsa, Okla., in 1954 when Tommy and Lucille Day began producing a light donut mix each morning and selling it to local shops, most often from the trunk of their car. When they sold the business in 1977, to Jerry and Linda Hull, the company consisted of 200 shops and a fleet of trucks. The Hulls sold the company in 2002 to John and Sheila Bond, who have guided growth to nearly 1,000 retail outlets worldwide.

For an operator like Feuling, there is a licensing agreement under which he receives products and the rights to use the name. He said he is shooting for an opening sometime around June 6.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Kiwi Loco plans summer opening for second Idaho Falls frozen yogurt shop

Kiwi Loco's frozen yogurt machines will require extra plumbing at the store it plans to open this summer on Houston Street, its second in Idaho Falls.
Kiwi Loco is planning to open a second frozen yogurt shop in Idaho Falls, at 163 Houston Street, near Wal-Mart and Olive Garden. Remodeling has begun and an opening date should be in late June or early July.

"We definitely needed something on that side of town," said owner Justin Turley, who opened the Kiwi Loco on Hitt Road in December 2012. "We got comments from people all the time saying you need to come to the west side."

Turley's parents, Gene and Carol Turley, and a partner, Doug Birch, started Kiwi Loco in April 2010. The new Idaho Falls store will be the eighth in the family-owned chain, which extends west to Ontario, Ore., and as far east as Palm Bay, Fla.

The new Idaho Falls store will be 1,200 square feet, smaller than the Hitt Road location. Some extra plumbing has to be done for Kiwi Loco's machines.

New cancer center being built in Idaho Falls

IFSC Partners, a company based in Portland, Ore., is remodeling the Surgical Center on 17th Street and buiding 12,850-square-foot cancer treatment center directly to the north.

According to the building permit records on file at the city of Idaho Falls Building Department, the remodel and new building will have an estimated value of $2.79 million. The contractor is Morgan Construction of Idaho Falls.

Doing business as Idaho Falls Oncology, the cancer center will have 4,271 square feet at the ground level and a 4,271-square-foot basement. The floor plan includes 10 clinical examination rooms and two infusion rooms.

Idaho Falls leads state in weekly wages, Pocatello in wage growth

Last week's numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed another decrease in Idaho unemployment, for the ninth straight month. But while trends in employment are the typical gauge of economic well being, earnings can provide a deeper measure of the value of economic change. All jobs are not equal and earnings are a measure of productivity and economic contribution.

Another set of BLS numbers, compiled in February, show earnings and jobs on the rise throughout the nation, with the Idaho Falls Metropolitan Statistic Area leading in Idaho. According to the data, the average weekly wage in Idaho Falls was $803, making it 64th in the nation. The weekly wage for Boise was $701 and Pocatello was $678.

Is there anyone who would dispute the effect the Idaho National Laboratory and the cleanup work at the Department of Energy site have on local wages? It would be interesting to see what average weekly earnings would be for the area absent the lab-related jobs.

On the six-month earnings growth front, Pocatello led the state, with at rate of 6.9 percent, 94th in the nation. Idaho Falls followed with 5.7 percent, while Boise posted a loss of -4.6 percent, ranking 326th.

Overall, 241 U.S. metros (64.7 percent) had experienced positive earnings growth over the year, but when inflation was factored in the number dropped to 179 metros (48.1 percent).

To eliminate single month abnormalities or disruptions, the average annual change in earnings over the previous six months was calculated. Before adjusting for inflation, 239 metros (64.2 percent) showed positive earnings growth. After inflation adjustment, the number of metros with real earnings growth dropped to 162 or 43.5 percent.

Alexandria, La., had the highest annual percentage growth in earnings, up 33 percent on average. Midland, Texas, was second at 27 percent. On the downside, Kokomo, Ind., experienced an average annual earnings decline of 24.8 percent, followed closely by El Centro, Calif., with a drop of 22.2 percent.

http://www.garnereconomics.com/pdf/Garner Economics Average Earnings in US Metros 0412.pdf

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Bill's Bike Shop plans move to Snake River Landing

Bill's Bike Shop, which has served eastern Idaho and western Wyoming cycling enthusiasts since 1947, announced today it will start construction in July on a new store at Snake RiverLanding.
The store, which will be across the street from Bella Vita Bistro and Coffeehouse, is scheduled to open in spring 2013. Owner Gary Wight, who bought the business in 2010, is planning a state-of-the-art, location of more than 10,000 square feet. Customers can also look forward to virtual spin classes, large seminar and classroom space, and a larger service area.

In addition to retail and repairs, customers will be able to rent bicycles to ride the trails at Snake River Landing, a planned community of more than 400 acres between Pancheri Drive and Sunnyside Road.

"The planners of Snake River Landing had the foresight to lay the infrastructure for a bicycle, pedestrian and family-friendly community within Idaho Falls," Wight said. "We have a large biking community in this region, but not many roads allow for safe cycling. Snake River Landing is leading the way."

Presently on South Holmes Avenue, where it has been since the 1980s, Bill's Bike Shop is well known for the four major brands it carrries: Trek, Raleigh, Specialized and Giant. The shop also services or repairs roughly 600 bicycles per month. It is very active in community work, giving away restored bikes to underprivileged youth every year, helping programs like Shop With a Cop, the Salvation Army, St. Vincent’s De Paul, and Christmas for Families. Bill’s is also a major sponsor of the Heart of Idaho Century Ride, which happens in August each year at Snake River Landing, and the Criterion Series that runs every summer.

Wight purchased Bill’s Bike Shop in December 2010, after retiring from the automotive business, in which he ran three different dealerships over the course of 30 years.

EITC summer classes begin next week

Summer classes begin next week at Eastern Idaho Technical College, offering everything from fitness to first aid to social media do's and don'ts.

EITC's Community Education program is designed to be affordable and convenient while offering high quality courses in a variety of areas.

Creative arts classes in music, photography, and drawing.

Health and wellness classes in meditation, Zumba, yoga and Tai Chi.

Computers, digital arts and social media.

For convenience's sake, courses are being offered in the morning and evening at lunchtime and on weekends. Price start at 10 classes for $30 or 20 classes for $50. Get a punch card at EITC Student Services.

Whether you're building a business or defining yourself to the world, the social media class is covers the essentials: Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and blogging.

It will be Tuesday and Wednesday from 7 to 9 p.m. Cost is $15.

Other classes include: Computers for Seniors, Jewelery Making, Portrait Photography, First Aid, Belly Dancing, Yoga, Beginning Guitar, Landscape Ideas & Plants, and Introduction to Excel, Word and Photoshop.

For more information, call 208-524-3000 ext. 3344 or 3345. Or visit this link:

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Idaho Falls Regional Airport Director Len Nelson, who announced Monday he will be retiring in August. Nelson has held the job since 2008.
The city of Idaho Falls is looking for a new airport director to replace Len Nelson, who announced Monday that he is retiring in August.

Nelson, 64, has managed Idaho Falls Regional Airport since 2008, when he came from Pocatello, where he had managed the airport there for 20 years. He began his career with Western Airlines.

Whoever takes the reins will have a lot on their plate. The third largest airport in the state, behind Boise's Gowen Field and Hailey's Friedman Memorial, Idaho Falls Regional Airport supports 1,269 jobs and a $31.5 million payroll, according to the 2010 Idaho Airport System Plan put out by the Idaho Division of Aeronautics. It accounts for an annual economic impact of more than $103 million.

The city of Idaho Falls pays approximately $2.5 million a year to keep the airport running. It receives another $2 million to $2.5 million from the federal government for improvements. In a 20-year projection from 2007, the Idaho Division of Aeronautics estimated that the total number of emplanements would rise from 168,503 to 297,400.

Nelson said regional airports like Idaho Falls' face new regulations all the time. "Any time there's a crash anywhere, the whole air system in this country reverberates," he said. "They want our runways scraped down to the bare pavement all the time. Costs are getting higher and higher. Then you add sercurity. Every week we have a new rule. An airport like Los Angeles can take it in stride, but any increase in cost to us is a real big issue."

Here is a link to the job posting: http://www.idahofallsidaho.gov/city/city-departments/human-resources/jobs/current-jobs.html

Nukes on the menu for breakfast, lunch this Friday

Jeff Sayer
Idaho Commerce Department Director Jeff Sayer will be the guest speaker Friday morning at the Partnership for Science and Technology's "Up and Atom" breakfast.
In addition to his Commerce Department duties, Sayer is chairman of the Governor’s Leadership in Nuclear Energy (LINE) Commission, which is touring the Idaho National Laboratory and U.S. Department of Energy-Idaho site today and Thursday.

The commission was created by Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter and is charged with making recommendations on policies and actions concerning INL and the broader nuclear industry in the state.

John Kotek
On the tour, commission members are scheduled to visit the Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project, Naval Reactors Facility, Idaho Nuclear Technology and Engineering Center, Advanced Test Reactor, TREAT Facility, and Materials and Fuels Complex.

The commission has meetings scheduled for June 22 and Aug. 10 in Boise, Sept. 21 in Idaho Falls and Oct. 19 in Moscow.

Reservations for Friday's breakfast, 7:30 to 9 a.m. at the Idaho Falls Red Lion, may be made by calling Lane Allgood, 313-4166.

Another commission member, John Kotek of the Gallatin Group, will be speaking Friday at 12:30 p.m. to the Idaho Falls City Club, on Nuclear Waste Management and the Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future. For more information, visit this link: http://ifcityclub.com/index.html.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Looking for a road trip? Try St. George this Sunday, for a solar eclipse

I wrote about this in January, but now that the moment is at hand I thought it was worth posting again. On the heels of the "Super Moon," we are now within driving distance of a solar eclipse this Sunday.

In fact, St. George seems like the sweet spot. Solar eclipses don’t happen very often, and when they do they’re usually over the ocean or someplace far from home.

While a solar eclipse occurs when the moon comes between the Sun and the Earth and casts a shadow. An annular eclipse is a solar eclipse, but because the moon is at the far part of its eliptical orbit around the Earth it appears smaller in the sky and a ring of light from the sun shines around it.

If you go to northern Nevada, it ought to be in mid-afternoon. By the time it reaches southern Utah, the sun will be low toward the horizon, which ought to produce are remarable effect and some spectacular pictures.

After Sunday, the next solar eclipse in North America will be Aug. 21, 2017,  and guess what? The path will run right over central and eastern Idaho. Looking at the map, I've come to the conclusion that either Redfish Lake or Menan Butte will be the best places to see it. Mark your calendars. You read it here.

This is what an annular eclipse looks like.

UI receives $2.56 million in nuclear research grants

The United States Department of Energy has awarded $2.56 million in new research and development projects to the University of Idaho, the largest amount awarded to any single institution. In addition to the three grants, DOE's Nuclear Energy University Programs division also awarded UI a three-year graduate fellowship.  
The money comes from $47 million awarded by NEUP nationwide, for scholarships, fellowships, research grants and university research reactor upgrades. The purpose is to support nuclear research and development and train a new generation of nuclear expertise at 46 colleges and universities.
“The NEUP research grants awarded to the University of Idaho will support cutting edge research that will ensure the continued generation of safe and reliable nuclear energy," said Robert Smith, associate vice president and CEO for University of Idaho-Idaho Falls Center and associate director of the Center for Advanced Energy Studies. "(The) awards show a continuing return on Idaho’s investment in the University of Idaho and the Center for Advanced Energy Studies,” .
At the University of Idaho-Idaho Falls Center, the projects were awarded to three scientists:

Supathorn Phongikaroon, principal investigator on a Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy project that aims to measure and analyze concentrations of dissolved used nuclear fuel in high temperature ionic liquid. This process could help reduce the risk of nuclear material proliferation and develop safeguarding technology. Total award: $820,000
Akira Tokuhiro, principal investigator, and Milos Manic and Vivek Utgikar, co-principal investigators on a hybrid energy conversion system that can be applied to next generation nuclear power plants linked to other renewable energy sources. Hybrid energy systems combine baseload power, such as nuclear, with renewable energy sources such as wind or solar, offering efficient and reliable energy sources for energy security. Total award: $877,000.
Vivek Utgikar, principal investigator on a project to develop of intelligent control systems for next generation nuclear reactor systems, which will use reactor heat directly in processes such as synthetic fuel production. Utgikar's project is to develop mathematical equations that describe the steady state and transient behavior of the system composed of the nuclear reactor and intermediate heat exchanger transferring the heat to the chemical process. Control strategy based on these equations will be devised to maintain the operation and enhance the safety of the system. Total amount: $869,997.

In addition, Richard Skifton was awarded a $50,000 annual graduate fellowship for the next three years. Skifton, who is currently completing a Master of Science degree in mechanical engineering, will use the funds to support his doctoral studies at the University of Idaho.


The future of air service in Idaho

Many cities Idaho Falls' size would envy the air service the city enjoys. But the trends in regional air travel -- bigger planes and longer flights -- are making it more challenging to maintain regular air service between Idaho Falls and Boise.
The Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce is planning a summit Tuesday on the future of air service in Idaho. The chamber is pushing for the re-establishment of routes that have included Boise in the past, and possibly creating new ones.

The keynote speaker will be aviation futurist Michael Boyd, president of the Evergreen, Colo.-based consulting firm Boyd Group International. Boyd will give "a blunt assessment of Boise's position and tell us what other cities are doing to keep and attract air service," the chamber said in a press release.

Other speakers will include new Boise Airport Director Rebecca Hupp and state Rep. Wendy Jaquet of the Sun Valley/Ketchum area, who advocates for commercial air service to and from Friedman Memorial Airport in Hailey.

I'd like to think someone from Idaho Falls going to this meeting. I know there are plenty of people who would like to see the return of regular air service between here and Boise. Until 2010, we had Horizon Air. In 2011, Seaport Air made a stab at the route, but didn't last six months.

The irony is that the trends driving regional air service -- bigger jets and longer routes -- are the same thing that have made the Idaho Falls-Boise route hard to sustain.

Here a digest of an article I wrote for the Idaho Business Review, which ran May 4:

In the early 2000s, the average size of a regional commercial airplane was 37 seats. Today, it's 55, and those seats have to be paid for, said Jack Penning of Portland, Ore., director of market analysis for Sixel Consulting. What is making the flight between Idaho Falls and San Francisco possible is the same thing that is making inland regional routes harder to sustain. "Smaller regional markets have been squeezed out because of a lack of appropriate aircraft," Penning said.

What would be ideal for an Idaho Falls-Boise route would be a plane like the 19-seat Beechcraft 1900 turboprops Silver Airways uses on its routes in Montana. Idaho Falls Regional Airport Manager Len Nelson said Silver is one of three small carriers he is trying to woo. But he and Penning, with whom he works closely, know the challenges.

"Airlines are reluctant to move craft away from established routes," Penning said. "You've got to convince them you've got something that will be viable for them."

In a 20-year projection from 2007, the Idaho Division of Aeronautics estimated that Idaho Falls' total number of emplanements would  rise from 168,503 to 297,400.

Despite the number of people that opt to drive to Salt Lake City or Boise (one reason Seaport cited for abandoning the route) Idaho Falls' isolation still works in its favor. A study by Sixell Consulting estimated there are 294,557 people within 60 minutes of Idaho Falls. Within two hours' drive time, that number expands to 665,359.

And then there is the  number of people traveling on government business, mainly connected to the Idaho National Laboratory.

"We have a lot of government people who fly out of here," Nelson said. "We've never really measured it, but on a 50-seat airplane I would estimate the people who work for the government or government contractors make up 25 or 30 percent."

Without the federal government and the Idaho National Laboratory, airport would be a lot smaller. Likewise, the business travel helps Idaho Falls get what it wants. "If they call up Delta Airlines and say, 'We need this,' Delta is going to pay attention," Nelson said.

A case in point: SkyWest's Delta Connection began sending 76-seat Canadair RJ 700s into Idaho Falls on May 2. The planes have first-class cabins, something Idaho Falls hasn't seen since Delta stopped its 737s in 1997.

SkyWest, which operates both the Delta Connection to Salt Lake City and United Express flights between Idaho Falls, Denver and San Francisco, has brought RJ 900s into service, freeing up the RJ 700s for other routes. Right now, the only RJ 700 that comes to Idaho Falls arrives late at night and leaves early in the morning, but if those flights are full more could be coming, Nelson said.

There are tremendous challenges for airports the size of Idaho Falls Regional. Nelson said the airport hired three new staffers in 2011 to monitor the runway surface. "They want our runways scraped down to the bare pavement all the time. Costs are getting higher and higher. Then you add sercurity. Every week we have a new rule. An airport like Los Angeles can take it in stride, but any increase in cost to us is a real big issue," he said.

Read more here: http://www.idahostatesman.com/2012/05/09/2109247/boise-chamber-of-commerce-to-hold.html#storylink=cpy

Friday, May 11, 2012

Stevens-Henager grand opening set for May 24

Stevens-Henager College's campus at Snake River Landing in Idaho Falls.
Stevens-Henager College will be having a ribbon cutting and grand opening May 24 at its Idaho Falls campus, at Snake River Landing.

The ribbon cutting by the Greater Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors will  be at 11:30 a.m. An open house and lunch, catered by Buffalo Wild Wings and Mi Amor Catering, will follow, lasting until 1:30 p.m.

Stevens-Henager goes all the way back to 1891, when it was founded in Ogden, Utah, as Intermountain Business College by James Ayers Smith, an educator from Nebraska who wanted to teach commercial subjects and place graduates in business positions. It changed owners and names several time, becoming Smithsonian Business School in 1910; Moench University of Business in 1938; and Ogden Business College in 1940.

It became Stevens-Henager in 1959 and established its first branch campus in Provo in 1978. In addition to Provo and Idaho Falls, it now has branch campuses in Murray and Logan, Utah, and Boise.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Survey gives Idaho A+ for small business friendliness

After a two-month survey of more than 6,000 small business owners nationwide, Thumbtack.com has released new data showing that Idaho ranked first for overall small business friendliness.

"Asking entrepreneurs to rank state friendliness to their businesses is a powerful resource for helping policymakers understand the needs of business owners and for helping aspiring founders understand the full dimensions of their business environment," said Dane Stangler, director of research for the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a partner in the study.

Two of the survey's findings might be considered surprising:
  • Small business owners said licensing requirements were nearly twice as important as tax rates in determining overall business friendliness.
  • An important predictor was whether small business owners are aware of the state or local government offering training programs for small businesses.
The Gem State earned an 'A+' overall, edging out Texas for the top spot. This ranking was achieved despite it ranking sixth-worst nationwide for the cost of hiring a new employee.

As I browsed the link, www.thumbtack.com/survey, I saw two comments from Bonneville County business owners. I think they're worth sharing.

“It requires basic licensing and liability insurance, which is fairly easy to comply with. Only in the recent few years have contractors been required to have a state license and be insured. At first, some complained about this requirement, but what it has done is minimize the "fly-by-night" businesses who weren't reputable, and it has given clients more security when hiring a contractor.”
— Home builder, Bonneville

“Anyone with little or no training at all can start a business here. Hell, you don't even have to speak, read or write English. In the retail business, all you have to do is rent a location, and pay the sales tax collected; that's it! Knowledge of what you sell or the service that you perform is non-existent here. It's a right-to-work state. In the service industry or construction industry, just slap a sign on your truck and you are in business. Handymen with no formal training are considered general contractors and can build whatever they want without proper training, guidance, or knowledge of the construction code, if there is one. There is no union, no journeyman and have very little inspections if any. That includes the health department for food service. If you own a restaurant, you will be lucky if the health department inspects you once every two years. Shameful! In my profession, as a tree service, if you have a craftsman, chainsaw, and a pick-up truck with a trailer, you are considered a bonafide tree service. If you can start the saw or a handyman, you are now a certified arborist, no joke! I spend hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in training and safety for my people to no avail; the only satisfaction I receive is knowing that while they are working for me, the job will be done right, and safely.”

— Arborist, Bonneville

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Sno Shack expands to six locations, plans rebranding

Sno Shack will have six locations in the Idaho Falls area this summer.
Aside from local golfers, nobody could be more pleased by the mild spring weather than Preston Walker, now in his eighth year of selling shaved ice in the Idaho Falls area.

Walker started Sno Shack -- which he plans to rebrand this summer as SnOgo -- while he was in college. "It did better than we thought it would," he said. "We found a little niche."

Walker said he has seen other shaved ice businesses come and go, but what's kept him in business is the consistency of his product and speed of service. "I harp on the texture of the ice," he said. "It has to be soft but not mushy. We hate to tell anyone we're out of flavors. If our customers are happy, they keep coming back."

The first summer, Sno Shack had one location. This year there will be six, with two new stands, both in Ammon -- one at the northeast corner of Hitt and Sunnyside, the other on 17th Street next to Ace Hardware.

Walker will have nearly 45 part-time employees this summer, the majority of them high school- and college-age girls.

Sno Shack offers nearly 80 flavors, plus toppings that include cream from Reed's Dairy. Walker guessed that he will be mixing at least 75 gallons of sugar water a week between now and mid-September, when they typically shut down.

"It's a lot of work, all day, every day," he said. "But we treat it like a real business. We would like to perfect it to the point where we can franchise it."

Sno Shack is open Monday through Thursday from 2 to 9 p.m., Friday from 2 to 10 p.m. and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Once the school year is over, weekday hours will be 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. This is also the first year they will be taking credit cards.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

For those of you who can't let go of the idea of Trader Joe's ...

We managed to stir up some excitement last fall after reporting that a mysterious "specialty grocery store" had called the city of Idaho Falls' assistant planning director Brad Cramer about our area. Who could it be? By far, the biggest number of wishful thinkers said they wanted to see Trader Joe's come to town.

We spoke to Trader Joe's at the time and they told us they planned 18 months in advance. There were no plans for a store in Idaho Falls in that window. That means you'll have to get your Two-Buck Chuck from your friends or relations or hit the road for California, which is never a bad idea.

Nothing has changed since then, but for those of you who can't let go I want to offer you this link I found: http://www.traderjoes.com/stores/coming-soon.asp.

And here's a link to a review of the best and worst of Trader Joe's, which I found entertaining: http://www.thedailymeal.com/best-and-worst-products-trader-joes/4472/comment/reply/21182?utm_source=Outbrain

Monday, May 7, 2012

Bowl-ero gets new owners, plans to reopen May 20

The front door at Bowl-ero Lanes, 670 First Street, Idaho Falls.
Bowl-ero Lanes, closed since the end of April, will be reopening May 20 with different owners but the same management.

Pat Verhoff, who has managed the center at 670 First Street for the past five years, said the closing had to do with an auction sale related to the former owners, MicroInvest LLC, of Layton, Utah. There was anauction last Wednesday at Alliance Title, and when no bids were entered the 24-lane facility became the property of Stonefield Inc., LLC, a mortgage broker in Sparks, Nev.

Stonefield also owns the Wild Island Family Adventure Park in Reno, a complex that includes bowling, water slides, laser tag, go-karts, miniature golf, a bar and cafe (Web site: www.wildisland.com).

Verhoff said the new owners have big ideas about expanding beyond bowling, because the old idea of bowling as blue collar pastime no longer holds true. A report issued last year by the White Hutchinston Leisure & Learning Group, "What's Happening to Bowling?" turns a lot of preconceived notions upside down. Some key points:
  • League bowling used to generate about 70 percent of a bowling center's business. It now generates only about 40 percent, and is continuing to decline.
  • Bowling has become a white-collar pastime, and 46 percent of all bowlers are girls and women. In 2007, 42 percent of bowlers had household incomes of $75,000 or higher, compared to just 30 percent of the total U.S. population. More than 25 percent of bowlers came from households with $100,000 or higher incomes, compared to only 18 percent of all U.S. households.
  • More than one-third of all children 6 and older bowled in 2007. That participation rate is 80 percent greater than the average for all age groups. The next highest participation rate is with young adults up to age 34. The 6 to 34 age group contains two-thirds of all bowlers.
  • Bowling faces a challenge from virtual bowling at home, particularly the Nintendo Wii video game system. While the lacks the excitement of the real experience, the in-home game offers a social experience with family or friends at a much more affordable price.
Idaho Falls has very active leagues and Bowl-ero, which opened in 1961, has loyal longtime bowlers. Nevertheless, successful bowling centers in the future are likely to be upscale and diversified. The White Hutchinson report's conclusion:

"(We) find the demand for bowling is elastic, based upon the quality, atmosphere and presentation of bowling. The more centers that match the tastes and values of upscale consumers, the more those consumers will come out to bowl. Think about it. Would you want to spend time in one of those smoky, stodgy, dark prehistoric bowling alleys offering food less appealing than what you find at the State Fair? Of course not. Introduce a new, contemporary bowling center in that same market, and open-play bowling attendance will suddenly shoot up."

To read the full report, follow this link: http://www.whitehutchinson.com/leisure/articles/whats-happening-to-bowling.shtml

Sunday, May 6, 2012

My mortgage company, my Ally, in more ways than one

Let me get this straight: As an American taxpayer, I own a stake in Ally Financial, formerly GMAC, which also happens to be the company to which I make monthly mortgage payments.

If I miss my mortgage payment (and I never have), I get harassed on the phone and my credit rating goes in the toilet.

If Ally Financial's mortgage unit, ResCap, misses a $20 million payment like it did in mid-April, it is in "asset protection mode" and "depositors and creditors seem relatively unfazed," according to today's New York Times.

The story concludes, "Given the ties between ResCap and its parent company, Ally will almost certainly have to write a check to escape this mess. The only question is how big that check will have to be."

Begging the Times reporter's pardon, but I have another question: As an Ally customer (through no choice of my own; my mortgage was bundled and sold to Ally) and a putative shareholder in the company, how am I going to get the shaft? Because if there's one thing I know it's that foul smelly stuff (and you know what I'm talking about) always flows downhill.


Saturday, May 5, 2012

Idaho Falls names new public information officer

Brad Huerta
Brad Huerta of Pocatello has been selected as the new public information officer for the city of Idaho Falls. He begins May 21.
Huerta served as director of public affairs for Portneuf Medical Center until 2010, when he started his own company, Insight Communication Strategies. A state-licensed public information officer, Huerta has done media work as well as strategic development and planning.

He holds a bachelors degree in political science from Idaho State University and a masters in public administration from the University of Colorado. He has served on the ISU Adjunct Faculty.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Eastern Idaho Regional names new community relations and marketing specialist

Michele Badrov
Michele Badrov has joined Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center as its new community relations and marketing specialist.

Originally from Seattle, she moved to Idaho Falls four years ago with her family. Her business experience includes a Prudential-affiliated real estate appraisal and development firm in South Carolina. When she had children, she transferred her skills and abilities to the volunteer sector, serving on executive boards for the education foundation, school site councils, PTA and youth sports. She is president of the Southpoint Homeowners Association.

She holds a master's in health care administration from Idaho State University. Now that her children are older, she said it was time to refocus on her career.

"I hired Michele because she brings community-based involvement and a business background," said Cindy Smith-Putnam, the hospital's executive director of business development, marketing and community relations.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Don't waste your marketing dollars on social media

There's nothing like a good headline to get someone's attention, and when I saw "Don't waste your marketing dollars on social media," I knew I had to read the story.

The post, by Joshua Moser on the My Super Marketer Web site, is not suggesting that social media is a waste, only that a lot of people have a wrong or inflated idea of what it can do for them.

I'll give you his bullet points, but if you're interested in this I suggest you read both the blog entry and the comments that follow,

  • Define your audience.
  • Make a compelling offer to capture their attention.
  • Collect the right amount data and usable customer feedback.
  • Take it beyond Facebook into a cost effective nurture marketing process.
  • Test. Analyze. Refine. Repeat.
On the whole, the site looks like it has a lot of good information and writing on it. Here's the link: http://mysupermarketer.com/index.php/blog/entry/dont-waste-your-marketing-dollars-on-social-media-1

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

First-class cabin service returns to Idaho Falls

SkyWest began flying 76-seat Canadair RJ 700s in and out of Idaho Falls this week. This marks the first time a regular commercial service has offered a plane with a first-class cabin since 1997, when Delta quit landing 737s in Idaho Falls.
Since Delta stopped flying 737s into Idaho Falls Regional Airport in 1997, one of the major complaints from an economic development standpoint has been the lack of first-class cabins in the regional jets that took their place.

That ended Wednesday, when SkyWest began its early morning flight to Salt Lake City with a larger Canadair Regional Jet 700. The 76-seat aircraft has a first-class cabin, which means corporate types who would never fly coach under any circumstance may be likely to feel more at ease about visiting Idaho Falls to check it out.

It's also good news for people who fly all the time, said Airport Manager Len Nelson. "When you have people who are premium fliers, those upgrades are signficant," he said.

SkyWest, which operates the Delta Connection to Salt Lake City and the United flights between Idaho Falls, Denver and San Francisco, has brought RJ 900s into service, freeing up the RJ 700s for other routes. Right now it's only the plane that comes in late and leaves early in the morning, but if the flights are full a second RJ 700 could be added.

Idaho Falls was ranked second among 228 SkyWest locations for operations efficiency and on-time performance in April. "This is a good indication of the competency and steady performance of the SkyWest managment and staff here at Idaho Falls," Nelson said. "Given the volatile weather conditions we have from day to day, it is no easy task to keep flights running smoothly and on time."

A few facts about the Idaho Falls Regional Airport

This is kind of in the "Hey, did you know?" department. I'm looking into the economic impact of the Idaho Falls Regional Airport, and found these facts and numbers in the 2010 Idaho Airport System Plan.
  • IFRA is the third largest airport in the state, behind Boise's Gowen Field and Hailey's Friedman Memorial.
  • Total Employment: 1,269
  • Total Payroll: $31.5 million
  • Total Economic Output: $103.1 million
On the historical side of things (which I love) here are a few things worth noting:
  • The airport first got its operating license in 1938, after the first hangar, administration building and tower -- all made of hand-hewn white pine -- were built by the Works Project Administration.
  • The airport as we know it was laid out by H.P. "Pete" Hill, who was appointed manager in 1953. Hill, who died in 1999, was the son of an aviation pioneer and had a flying license that was signed by Orville Wright.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Sport Clips in Pocatello finds new location near Costco

Sport Clips in Pocatello has relocated to the Rail Crossings Shopping Center, near Costco. Offering quality haircuts for men and boys, Sport Clips is a sports-themed business with flat-screen TVs showing games throughout the salon.

The local owner is Larry Asay, owner of the Sports Clips in Idaho Falls also. Sports Clips' new address is 231 West Quinn Road.

"Sport Clips represents the high quality of tenant that we are attracting at Rail Crossing," said Eric Isom, chief development officer of BV Properties, which owns the shopping center. "We look forward to watching our tenant list grow as we offer attractive lease deals in this quality shopping center project."

The Pocatello Sport Clips' hours are Monday-Friday 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. The salon is closed Sundays.

For more information on Rail Crossings, Sport Clips or BV Properties, call Liza Leonard at (208) 523-3794 or visit www.ballventures.com.