Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Bank of Idaho, INL help establish Community Commitment Fund

Jeff Newgard, Bank of Idaho CEO
Bank of Idaho and Idaho National Laboratory (INL), in connection with local non-profit leaders and public health team members, have initiated a public- community commitment fund in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

As of Tuesday, any person can visit a local Bank of Idaho branch and donate to the East Idaho Community Commitment Fund. This fund has been set up to help non-profit agencies and community partners who need emergency, rapid funding to continue operations, and help individuals in need or solve immediate issues caused by coronavirus (COVID-19). Agencies are asking individuals to consider donating to the fund. Any amount helps and will immediately be distributed to local non-profits with urgent community needs.

In coordinated efforts, Bank of Idaho and INL have both pledged $5,000 to kick off the fund and help local non-profits with immediate needs. “This Community Commitment Fund will provide the necessary immediate support, resources, and funding for nonprofits to continue serving our communities respectively during this very difficult time," said Monica Bitrick, Idaho Falls Family YMCA CEO and community liaison representing non-profits in east Idaho from Ashton to American Falls. "We truly appreciate the leadership and commitment from Bank of Idaho and Idaho National Laboratory to provide the very generous lead donations for the East Idaho Community Fund. We hope additional business and community leaders will consider supporting our non-profit community during this difficult time.”
Mark Peters, INL director

“The coronavirus is creating some very interesting times," said Jeff Newgard, Bank of Idaho President and CEO. "Much of the activity and response we are seeing to the spread is unprecedented. I’ve been in touch with many local officials and non-profit teams and the coordination, planning and preparedness throughout Idaho has been awe inspiring. We are committed to the communities we serve. After all, we are the bank with a heart.”

"At INL, we are committed to our communities, and proud to join a partnership that will help those in need as a result of disruptions caused by the COVID-19 virus,” said Mark Peters, INL Laboratory Director. “I encourage everyone to contribute what they can, while we protect our most vulnerable community members through social distancing. We appreciate our partners coming together. Looking out for each other, we will get through this, and make sure no eastern Idahoans are left behind."

A committee of business and non-profit leaders has been created to allocate funds appropriately to those with the greatest need. Agency leaders include Karen Baker, Museum of Idaho; Christine Wiersema, Idaho Falls and Bonneville County United Way; Karen Lansing, Habitat for Humanity; Misty Benjamin, INL Community Relations; and Tyler Kraupp, Bank of Idaho.

You can donate to the fund online or drive though any local Bank of Idaho branch and mention you’d like to make a deposit to the Community Commitment Fund. To view where the dollars are going and to learn more about the community partners involved, visit

Monday, March 23, 2020

Mahana Fresh franchise planned for Idaho Falls

Although you may think you're never going out to eat again, so here's something that might remind you that life goes on and things might actually return to normal someday: Mahana Fresh, a healthy fast-casual chain based in Florida, is coming to Idaho Falls.

The building permit filed with the Idaho Falls Building Department shows plans for a remodel at 429 South Utah Avenue. The owner is listed as MCMM Utah LLC, and the permit applicant is Morgan Construction.

Mahana Fresh offers three sizes of bowls with customers choosing from fresh ingredients in a service line. There are bases like basmati rice, spinach salad or sweet potato noodles; veggies such as oven-roasted mushrooms, honey sriracha Brussels sprouts or Buffalo cauliflower; proteins ranging from Key West chicken or Hawaiian steak to ahi tuna or miso roasted tofu. Sauces are citrus ginger, creamy wasabi or coconut sweet potato, among others and topping it all are roasted almonds, avocado or cheeses.

The Big Mahana bowl that comes with two bases, two proteins, two veggies and choice of sauce costs $9.99. The Mahana bowl for $8.29 includes one base, one protein, two veggies and choice of sauce. There’s also a Lil Mahana option for $6.99. An upgrade to steak or tuna costs $1.50. For dessert, Mahana Fresh provides zucchini brownies, chocolate chip cookies or snickerdoodles.

Based in Sarasota, the company has been offering franchises since 2018. The company's website shows locations in Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Texas and Colorado. The Idaho Falls location will be the first in Idaho.

5 Generations of Service | Brian Wood, Wood Funeral Home

Brian Wood
Although Jon Wood did not want his children to feel pressured to go into the family business, his son, Brian, was drawn to it. “As a kid the only thing I knew about death was what I learned in scary zombie movies,” Brian said. “It wasn't until I was going to college that I started to help on Saturdays.” It only took a few weeks of helping out before he knew that he wanted to be a part of what his family had done for generations.

Brian trained in mortuary science in Arizona after completing a business degree locally. He was able to do an apprenticeship within the family business before going into the program. The emphasis within the program was very science-based, but there was also a portion of the program that was focused on counseling and grief support. “The counseling base is so important, to be able to guide people and help them through [grief],” he said.

Navigating death and dying might seem like it would be too hard for many people to do. “One generation after another has seen the great blessings and the great character it has built,” Brian said about why his family has been a part of this work for so long. “A lot of people wonder if we get desensitized to death, but that is not a good explanation of what happens to us. Death to us is as common as birth is to a nurse that works in the birth center. It's something that we see every day, but each family we serve we realize this is a new experience for them. We go in each time and assure them that we will care for their loved one like they are a part of our own family. We make sure they know we care,” Brian said. “Our staff is here to serve and care for them.”

Although you'd think that being in the funeral business would be so sad and hard, Brian feels differently about it. “Something about being in this business your body naturally learns how to compartmentalize the stress. Over time we have a place to tuck it and we can go home at night and be a dad or a husband. Depression and anxiety are important to recognize. We go through some really hard things,” Brian said. “Because we are so involved in serving mankind you'll see that funeral directors are a happier people. I don't feel the depression or the sadness, I feel the blessings. It's more of a feeling of being grateful to help other families. I have so much growth through this and it brings a lot of happiness.”

Feeling pride in the work he does through the service he gives to the community helps him to love the work he does. He admits that he feels the pressure of being the torch holder of the fifth generation but comes to work everyday knowing that he's here to serve others and no matter the outcome. Self-doubt is normal, and he feels you just have to do the best you can and move forward.

Just two years ago, Wood Funeral Home added a building to their Ammon campus that houses the crematorium. Brian is proud to be able to offer similar services to the loved ones of those being cremated as they do for those having burial, something he feels had been lacking in the community.

Brian has a son who, at age 11, is already talking about going into the family business. Wood Funeral Home very well may be working on the sixth generation that will continue to navigate the citizens of east Idaho through some of the hardest times of their life with dignity and respect.

For more information on Wood Funeral Home, please visit their site at

Monday, March 16, 2020

Accidental Influencer | Mindy Rees, Hope on the Horizon

Mindy Rees
“I never intended on sharing anything,” says Mindy Rees. “For three years, the only people who knew he was sick were family and close neighbors.” After deciding to seek answers at the Mayo Clinic, Mindy finally posted on social media that she needed the prayers of others to help them find a diagnosis. That's when the flood gates opened and people were interested in their story and how they could help.

Soon after her husband Wyatt's diagnosis of ALS (amytrophic lateral sclerosis), otherwise known as Lou Gehrig's Diesease, Mindy said she would post short but powerful updates, and it was at that time a friend encouraged her to start a blog. Blogging was popular then. Her friend said, “every time you post on your page it means a lot and people would like to know more.” Mindy said, “I realized that I liked to write and it was helping me to get all of these feelings out.”

The December after starting her blog in 2017, East Idaho News visited them with a surprise from Secret Santa. They told the story and then directed people to the blog who were interested in learning more about their story and about ALS. Mindy felt like it was perfect timing as the blog was already set up and going when they suddenly had the spotlight directed toward their story.

“There's nothing special about us,” Mindy Rees says as she relates the journey of her family and their challenges with ALS. “I started realizing it was helping other people. You don't realize how other people are going through something hard and saying ‘if she can do it, I can do it.'” Mindy explained that the blog helped her to visualize her blessings and think about all the positive in her challenging circumstances.

Mindy has been positive throughout this journey, “I'm naturally positive, but I saw so many other people going through things and so I never thought ‘why me'. I knew my own capabilities and I knew I could do it. This [disease] doesn't make Wyatt any less of a husband and father. I was determined that I would try to make things as normal as I could.”

Wyatt did not have a diagnosis for three years and there was no resources to help him. “I had to figure it out,” she says, “there was no one there to help us.” Mindy feels that her life experiences living on a dairy farm and being a gymnast taught her tenacity and problem-solving. “I've always had the attitude of if I'm going to do this I've got to figure it out.” That problem solving was what got her through when she had to get him in and out of cars and showers and other things they had to problem solve along the way. “I realized what I was capable of doing, I can do this.” Once they received his official diagnosis things got easier, resources were there and adaptive equipment gave him some freedom.

Despite the challenges of being a caregiver Mindy never considered placing Wyatt in a care center. “We all have our own threshold of physical, emotional capabilities of caring for somebody. My kids were little and even though they didn't have their dad in a normal way, they could run in after school. Everything we did was in my bedroom. I hope for my kids they saw that taking care of each other was how [we] loved each other,” she explained. The kids helped with caregiving activities including suctioning, feeding, and keeping blankets on him.

“The thing that gets you down the most is when you start feeling like you're the only one that knows what this is like. Even when you are at your lowest point or when you are going through something hard you have to be strong enough to still reach out and find somebody. I still had to reach out and find my tribe,” she said about others going through trials. “I had to find people I could relate to. You form a relationship and you get support.” This is another thing that the blog did for her, it helped her find her tribe. “When he passed away it was a sigh of relief. I'm not going to let this keep dragging me down. Yes, he's gone. Yes, it's hard. But he's better now,” she said.

Mindy recognizes that she made plenty of mistakes being a caregiver especially with not taking care of herself. Looking back she's not sure she'd do it differently. She does admit that it took a toll on her and she could have been more emotionally healthy but there are no regrets in how she took care of him. “I know I did my very best. I did all that I could do.” She sees how every situation is different and each caregiver has to do what is best for them and their loved ones.

Mindy's future includes nursing school, something she's always wanted to do even before Wyatt got sick and writing a book. Mindy starts school in the fall. She's recently started on the book. “I think it will help me in my healing.”

Mindy recognizes that ALS will always be a part of her life. During this journey, she has met many people and has great empathy for other's struggles. “I hope it makes me a better person. To not judge, just love people for who they are.” She believes that the lesson in this journey is to be a more loving and compassionate person and to teach her kids that although life isn't fair you shouldn't give up and there is always hope on the horizon.


You can find Mindy's blog at

To learn more about ALS visit the ALS Association website at

Ball Ventures announces plan for paid sick leave

In accordance with recommendations released Friday by Idaho Governor Brad Little, Ball Ventures, LLC, affiliates and partners announce plans to extend paid sick leave to employees who may contract COVID-19. Although Idaho does not require employers to pay workers who take a sick day, Ball Ventures management agrees with the recommendation from the governor and will take steps to help employees who may contract COVID-19 or employees taking time off to care for family members who contract the virus.

“The health and safety of our employees is our number one priority. They are our most valuable asset,” said Ball Ventures CEO Cortney Liddiard. “With the uncertainty of this unprecedented week, we hope to lessen the stress on our employees by extending paid sick leave to those who may contract COVID-19, as well as to employees who may need to care for ill family members without the additional concern about their next paycheck. As the governor says, it’s just good business practice.”

The announcement included affiliates and valued partners, including Tommy Ahlquist, CEO of Ball Ventures Ahlquist Development; Rusty Townsend, CEO of B&T Hospitality Management Services; Mario Hernandez, CEO Teton Auto Group; Ed Castledine, CEO of Saltzer Health; Rory Williams, COO of Sunterra Springs; and Mike Vickers, CEO of Rexburg Motor Sports. Collectively Ball Ventures, affiliates and partners employ over 1,200 people in Idaho and more than 650 people outside the state.

No employees of Ball Ventures or affiliated companies have tested positive for the virus, but the company is taking this opportunity to be proactive and plan various scenarios that may lessen the
impact on communities in which it does business. This proactive planning includes implementing a work-from-home policy for employees for whom their job duties permit, in order to contribute to containment efforts.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

INL's Dawn Scates named one of Idaho's Women of the Year

Dawn Scates
Dawn Scates, a distinguished scientist at Idaho National Laboratory, has been named one of the Idaho Business Review's 2020 Women of the Year. The 50 honorees were evaluated on criteria including leadership experience, professional accomplishments, mentorship and community service. They will be recognized at a March 11 gala, where an overall Woman of the Year will also be announced by the judges.

Scates joined INL in 1999 upon completion of her master’s degree in physics from Idaho State University, distinguishing herself with her work ethic and developing one-of-a-kind gamma spectroscopy systems to evaluate nuclear fission products and support the development of sustainable domestic energy sources. Refusing to be limited to one area of research, however, she has expanded her responsibilities by taking on a leadership role and is currently the manager of four Nuclear Science and Technology labs at INL.

Well known for her willingness to mentor junior staff, Scates is committed to helping her team members develop into sought-after researchers. “I love helping individuals become the best they can be,” she said. Scates emphatically believes in the power of strong mentors and credits her own childhood influences with starting her on the path to a career in the sciences.

In addition to facilitating the professional development of her employees, Scates also participates in STEM outreach activities within the Idaho Falls community. She enjoys performing demonstrations at local schools to awaken a desire in children to understand scientific principles. “Once I even brought a horse to a sixth-grade class to discuss laws of physics. That was a very popular visit,” she recalled. “I think it’s important to realize that science is all around us every day. I love seeing young people’s faces light up when they learn and understand a complex process and then in their own words are able to relate it to real-life circumstances. To me this is success.”

A mother of two teenage daughters, Scates is guided by an unwavering belief that leadership comes through our actions rather than just words. “You have to lead by example,” she said. “People mirror what you do, and I want to help develop the rising generation.”

Learn more about past INL Women of the Year winners here and here.

Monday, March 9, 2020

Owning Her Future | Christine Garner, Teton Smart Security

As Christine Garner was growing up, planning for her future was not on her mind. The child of Vietnam War refugees whose mother adopted end-of-the-world beliefs, Christine never believed that a college education or a business would be her reality. Overcoming obstacles early in life set her up to overcome the challenges that business would bring.
Christine Garner

Teton Smart Security is a commercial security company started in 2011. Christine admitted that she didn't have the entrepreneurial spirit, and starting their own business was a scary prospect. She talked her husband, Sean, who had security experience, into going back to school to get an electrical engineering degree. She was working at the time and they started having a family. Christine said this is when things changed for them. “I wanted to be home with my little boy,” she said, and so she told Sean she'd support him if he really wanted to start the business. Sean dropped out of school and started the business.

“Sean was so great at the technical, and I jumped in doing sales, and what we found was that we had no business experience. It's a whole other world. The business took a life of its own. It was terrifying because we didn't have the knowledge,” she said. “We went to the school of hard knocks.” Three years into the business their accountant advised them that they had two options. Either they close the business and get jobs, or figure out how to make the business work.

“I thought, there's no way our marriage would survive our business failure, but I didn't know what to do.” This is when they turned to the Small Business Development Center and were paired with David Noack, who changed their business and their personal life. “It took a lot of work,” she said, but after working with SBDC they were able to turn their business around and now it's thriving.

Her own journey inspired her to create a business called Envision Your Purpose. It is a purpose-driven vision board workshop. Christine guides attendees to discover who they are, where they are in their life, to identify their purpose in their life, to identify their goals and align that with their purpose.

“I used to be a skeptic. Just because you see something doesn't mean it's going to happen unless you work for it,” she said. “It's an empowerment tool that you use to visualize how to get closer to your goals.” This tool worked in their own business and they met revenue goals they never thought they could achieve by using it.

Christine's childhood helped shape her to overcome challenges. When she was 8 years old her mother moved them to Idaho because she believed that the West Coast was going to be destroyed by an earthquake. Christine's life became about survival and she lived in fear. When she was preparing to graduate from high school she convinced her mother to complete the FAFSA application for college tuition assistance. She says this is what changed her perspective. “I said, 'I can't live this life, I have got to plan for my future as if I'm going to live. I'm going to live the best life that I can, come what may,'” she said.

Christine and Sean have inspired their son to carry on the entrepreneurial spirit. He requested a snack shack for his sixth birthday and started Jojo's Snack Shack, where elementary kids come and pick their faviorite treats. “He loves it, and it's so fun.”

Her advice to other business owners is to read eMyth and Start With Why. Really understand your purpose for wanting a business. “Become educated, become more so you can be a great asset to your business,” she advised. “I would encourage anyone out there who has a purpose in them that they want to share with the world that they become clear and decide how to share it. Get clear.”


For more information about Teton Smart Security check out their website at
For more information about Christine's Envision Your Purpose workshops visit her Facebook page at

Monday, March 2, 2020

Emotional Decluttering | Shelly Shumway, Life Empowered

Shelly Shumway

“I want [my customers] to have hope, to be able to get rid of the things that aren't them, so that they can shine through in their God-given gifts and talents and know whey they are here.” Shelly Shumway says of her work.

Teaching mindset and connecting the body and mind are the core of her process. “The body is designed to heal itself emotionally and physically,” she explains, and she feels that you have to work on both to really heal.

Family comes first, and Shelly is able to most of her work at home while being a mom to her five children. Because of technology, Shelly is able to use video conferencing to hold group coaching sessions as well as visit with her one-to-one clients. Shelly also teaches at conferences and retreats from time to time. Her dream is to be on a big stage and really impact multiple lives at a time.

Shelly's journey started about a decade ago with her own battle against anxiety and depression while trying to be the best mom and wife for her family. “I thought, why am I not okay? Why am I not okay being a mom and taking care of my kids at home?” she said. She read books and hosted a book club, and about five years ago she attended a seminar where she had a vision of her future being on stage teaching others. At that time she just knew she had to create a career around her passion.

She says her success is because she is willing to learn and then share what she has learned. She believes she's a shortcut to that education for her clients. She is a conduit of the information and then she teaches it to those who are open to learn. That, combined with an innate gift of listening and really hearing, has provided her clients with just word of mouth and no marketing. Her demographic has become women entrepreneurs who are interested in growing themselves personally. “I love them, because that's where I am,” she says. The people she serves are a lot like her. “They are influencers, and I see what's holding them back,” she says.

This journey has not come without challenges and one of those was overcoming her own self-doubt and fear. She also had to push through the limiting beliefs of her extended family, who could not understand why she would want to work and felt there would be a negative impact on her children. She explained that she had to work through the “mommy guilt” and other judgments that she was feeling in order to go forward. “It wasn't them changing at all, it was all me. I was able to give myself the permission, and it didn't matter what anyone else said,” she said.

One of the bold moves she made to calm her own fears was to join a beauty pageant. “Pageants were never on my radar at all. I didn't think it was a reality for me. I grew up shy and socially backwards,” she said. After listening to the advice of a friend who told her that the pageant would be a great way for her to grow, she decided to give in and applied. She used emotional tools and other methods of her own to prepare for the pageant and that whole process actually helped her create one of her current courses. She didn't place in the pageant but understood why she had to take the journey. “It was a tool for other people to have hope,” she said.

Shelly's advice to anyone looking to go into business for themselves: “When you first have a dream, keep it to yourself for a little while and let it germinate in the soil a little bit. Take care of it, don't necessarily tell your family about it yet, even if you have a great relationship with them. Well-meaning family sometimes squash our dreams and they don't even know they are doing it.”

Shelly also believes in finding a mentor and following their direction. She also has embraced her children into her business, even including her 3-year-old in her coaching calls.

Her clients have respected the fact that Shelly is a better coach not having to worry about interruptions or apologizing for her kids being present. “We don't have to separate, they can be one. Get rid of the judgement,” she says.


To redeem the offer that Shelly has for you, please go to

If you'd like more information on Life Empowered, visit her Facebook page at You can joing the  Emotional Decluttering group on Facebook at


Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Two entertainment complexes planned for I.F.'s south end

It looks like it's going to be fun, fun, fun on the south end of Idaho Falls, with Jackson Hole Junction and Snake River Landing breaking ground this year on luxury entertainment complexes.

Dallas-based ShowBiz Cinemas will hold a ceremonial groundbreaking on its new Idaho Falls location at Jackson Hole Junction Thursday, followed by a reception with complimentary refreshments and raffle prize drawings. The event is open to the public and press.

The plan is for the company's Idaho Falls Bowling, Movies and More! entertainment center to feature the following:
  • 14 boutique bowling lanes
  • a lane-side cafĂ© with expansive food and drink options
  • a cutting-edge modern arcade and redemption center
  • multiple party rooms for every occasion
  • a full bar with beer, wine and cocktails
  • an ultra-modern concessions area
  • eight state-of the art movie auditoriums, all with luxury electric recliner seating
  • an SDX, Superior Digital Experience, auditorium featuring 4K digital laser projection, immersive Dolby Atmos surround sound and a wall-to-wall, ceiling-to-floor screen measuring four stories tall and 70 feet wide
The company's policies feature advance reserved seating, a free Star Rewards loyalty program, free movie admission for law enforcement officers and firefighters, and a variety of discount options for the value-conscious entertainment seeker, including $5 movie ticket pricing all day each Tuesday, discount bowling days and $1 hot dogs all day, every day.

Thursday's events start at 3 p.m. with a welcome address inside the heated event tent, followed at 3:30 with remarks from ShowBiz Cinemas CEO Kevin Mitchell and Matt Morgan, Jackson Hole Junction managing partner. The reception will be from 4 to 5 p.m.

Jackson Hole Junction is located on the east side of I-15 Exit 116.

As all of this takes place, Ball Ventures and the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies are planning a March groundbreaking on the Megaplex Theatre at Snake River Landing, which they announced in December.

Plans include 38,000 square feet of new construction, 10 screens and 975 all-luxury leather recliners. The cinemas are equipped with state-of-the-art sound and image technology, with the largest screen spanning 80 feet in length. Each cinema will also contain a quiet room to allow new parents and children a refuge to enjoy their film.

With the new “no lines” concept, the lobby turns its focus from waiting in ticket sales lines to creating a luxury lounging environment that offers patrons gourmet food and beverage options. The new lobby experience will incorporate technology, variable seating options, lighting and refined materials to enhance the user experience.

“We are excited to enter the Idaho Falls market,” said Blake Andersen, president of Larry H. Miller Megaplex Theatres. “Our construction team is diligently working on plans to bring a world-class building that will complement our Megaplex commitment to providing our customers with the best movie-viewing experience available.”

The project is projected to be complete in early 2021. For renderings of the site and theatre, visit:

Idaho Falls ShopKo building being remodeled into indoor storage

The inside of iNdorStor's facility on North Yellowstone
The ShopKo building on East 17th Street is being repurposed. A building permit application was filed Feb. 18 with the Idaho Falls Building Department for an interior remodel of 90,500 square feet. The applicant is Construction Solutions Co. and the owner is listed as Steve Keim.

Keim is a local developer with a long history that includes the Utah Avenue Wal-Mart, the Fairfield Inn & Suites, but the lease for the ShopKo site is to iNdorStor, an indoor climate-controlled storage company already in operation at 1755 North Yellowstone (once the Yellowstone Mall).

According to the company's website, "iNdorStor offers a clean and simple alternative to traditional storage options in East Idaho. The exclusively indoor, climate controlled facility offers a clean and well-maintained environment that is best for protecting and preserving your most valuable possessions and memories. Complementary to the facility, iNdorStor customer's enjoy free onsite use of platform carts and hand carts, state-of-the-art security, and prompt, professional service."

Monday, February 24, 2020

The Business of Swag | Travis Powell, Blue Phoenix Branding

Travis Powell

We all love swag. “Nobody thanks you for a commercial that interrupts their favorite program, nobody thanks you for the billboard that interrupts [the scenery], but with swag they thank you every time, and not only that, they keep it. ... The return on investment blows most of the other marketing mediums out of the water,” says Travis Powell, founder and CEO of Blue Phoenix Branding.

Travis never saw himself being a swag dealer, but his career in sales took him to a print shop and during his time there he was approached to provide lip balm swag for a customer. Although this wasn't a service that the company provided, Travis made it happen. The same customer came back in a few weeks needing a reorder and he saw an opportunity that he was excited about. He grew that portion of the business, but had differing strategies and vision than his employer and they ended up parting ways.

“When I was let go, it was a low point of my life,” Travis said. Despite the traumatic separation, he still had a passion for promotional products and he decided to start his own business. After partnering with Proforma, he was ready to begin Blue Phoenix Branding. It wasn't that easy, however. “I had signed a non-compete a number of years prior.” Despite the common belief that non-compete agreements are difficult to enforce, Travis's experience was very different. Not having the depth of resources to argue the non-compete, he was forced to comply. This prevented him from doing business within a 60-mile radius of any of his former employer's locations. “I decided to stop,” he said.

“For a month I had no income, no revenue, and was spending $275 an hour on legal fees,” Travis said. He knew the largest trade show was coming up in the next couple of months and, knowing that he still wanted to pursue promotional products at some point in the future, he decided to go. While there, it was clear he was being ostracized by the vendors that used to do business with him. He was informed that his previous employer had contacted previous vendors and warned them not to do business with him due to the non-compete. “I recognize they were trying to protect their interest,” he said. “We went with a cloud of gloom hanging over us.”

Knowing that he had to do something, and that the non-compete prevented him from doing business all along the I-15 corridor, even into Utah, the closest place he could do business was Twin Falls, almost 200 miles from home. He hadn't done cold calls in many years and he admitted he was terrified. But when he joined the Twin Falls Chamber of Commerce, he found a family and an open, receptive audience that embraced him quickly.

When asked why he didn't just quit he replied, “I was mad. A chip on the shoulder can get you a long way. I feel like I have a gift for what I do and I wasn't going to leave that.” The non-compete was for a year.

“There's no way we should have survived that. We were house-poor, and I wasn't going to give someone the satisfaction of losing my house. It drove us. Anger is not sustainable to get you from point A to point B, but it might help you with a little burst when times are tough.” Reflecting on that time he says, “I had a choice it could have gone either way and it made me.”

Now, 2 years later, he has no trepidation approaching businesses and knocking on doors. “There are so many opportunities out there, you simply have to move forward and if the door won't open, kick it open,” he said.

He admits he was horribly unambitious as a youth and his drive and ambition took a while to blossom. His family has been patient with him, and several are working in the business. Travis has a lot of respect for his father, who showed great tenacity in his own career in banking and overcame many challenges. His father-in-law works in the business and covers southern Oregon.

For those interested in going into business for themselves Travis advises, “If you play the long game and realize that short-term pain will be severe, if you have faith in yourself, if you have faith in the business model, then you can 100% achieve your goal.”

Blue Phoenix Branding now has graphic design and marketing. (Link: Blue Phoenix, Artcore Visual Studio Announce Merger, BizMojo Idaho, Dec. 18, 2018). They offer print services as well as promotional items. Travis loves the work he's doing and envisions being able to do this for many years to come.


Thursday, February 20, 2020

INL to provide Oklo access to recovered fuel for microreactor demonstration project

A representation of what Oklo Inc.'s Aurora Powerhouse will look like
Idaho National Laboratory announced Wednesday it will provide Oklo Inc. with access to recovered fuel from nuclear waste materials to aid the company in its efforts to develop and demonstrate the Oklo Aurora – a small advanced fission technology that can be used in remote or off-grid locations to generate power.

The California-based company applied for access to the material through a competitive process INL launched earlier this year. Notifications of selection were made to applicants in December 2019. The goal is to accelerate deployment of commercially viable microreactors by providing developers with access to material needed to produce fuel for their reactors.

“We are excited to work with Oklo Inc. and support their needs related to fuel development and microreactor demonstration,” said Dr. John Wagner, associate laboratory director for INL’s Nuclear Science & Technology directorate.  “As the nation’s nuclear energy research laboratory, we are committed to working with private companies and others to develop the technologies that will provide clean energy to the world.”

Jacob DeWitte, Oklo co-founder and chief executive officer, said, “This award paves the way for an important demonstration of the first Oklo Aurora plant, as well as the ability of advanced reactors to convert used nuclear fuel, that would otherwise be treated for disposal, into clean energy.” Last month, Oklo announced it received a site use permit from the U.S. Department of Energy to build and demonstrate the Aurora technology at INL.

Uranium recovered from used fuel is being downblended to produce “high-assay, low-enriched uranium,” i.e., HALEU. HALEU is low-enriched uranium that contains over 5% and less than 20% uranium-235, the fissile isotope in nuclear fuel that produces energy during a fission chain reaction.

All 96 nuclear reactors currently operating in the U.S. use fuel enriched with less than 5% uranium-235.

Several U.S. companies are developing microreactor technologies that would use HALEU and need access to the fuel in order to demonstrate and prove out designs.

“Many of these designs call for fuels with higher levels of uranium-235 so the reactors can operate for years without having to be refueled,” Wagner said. “That is an important attribute since this technology is envisioned to be used in remote areas that can be difficult to access.”

However, there are no commercial facilities in the U.S. now capable of producing HALEU. 
To address this gap, DOE has established a capability at INL to produce HALEU by processing and treating used fuel from the now-decommissioned Experimental Breeder Reactor-II (the used fuel contains high concentrations of uranium-235 and was being treated and processed for disposal). With this supply, INL can produce up to 10 metric tons of HALEU for research, development and demonstration purposes.

DOE retains ownership of HALEU during and after use, and the material will stay on the INL Site. The finalization of access to the HALEU is pending the establishing a cooperative agreement between INL and Oklo on the use of the material for their microreactor demonstration.

“Building and operating advanced reactors is essential to restoring U.S. leadership in nuclear energy,” said Dr. Ashley Finan, director of the National Reactor Innovation Center. Led by INL, NRIC was established in August 2019 to provide access to resources to accelerate the demonstration of advanced nuclear technology concepts. “The NRIC team is committed to empowering innovators to move their projects from concept to reality. We look forward to working with Oklo on the fuel supply for their first unit and congratulate them on achieving this milestone.”

Reactor demonstration sites at the INL Site are available through a DOE site use permit or other facility use arrangements. INL has a well-developed infrastructure and a well-characterized site with existing facilities and a skilled workforce to support new reactor projects.

Wagner said those factors plus being able to supply HALEU enable INL to support Oklo and other entities developing new reactor technologies. He added that INL is continuing discussions with the other applicants to see how the lab can support their efforts.

“We are interested in receiving more proposals from the microreactor development community,” he said. “There is an additional quantity of HALEU available to support reactor demonstrations.

Monday, February 17, 2020

East Idaho Entrepreneurs: Cameron C. Taylor

NOTE: Each Monday BizMojo Idaho will feature a small business profile from East Idaho Entrepreneurs, Renae Oswald's podcast focused on local people in business. This week's profile is Cameron C. Taylor.

'How Long Until I'm the CEO?'

Cameron C. Taylor

When Cameron C. Taylor was looking for an internship he interviewed with FranklinCovey. During the interview he asked them, “How long until I'm the CEO? What do I have to do to be the CEO of the company?” He told them if he was working there, his goal would be to be the CEO. After learning that it would take 30 to 40 years, he decided the best way to get what he wanted was to have his own company.

While attending BYU, he listened to a lecture series where entrepreneurs explained their businesses and he was intrigued. He already had a side business and was making some money, so the thought of being an entrepreneur made him excited. The MBA program that he was enrolled in required him to sign an agreement that he would not have any side businesses or a job. That wasn't going to work for him, so he gave up the MBA and took a leap of faith.

He had no idea what he was going to do. Cameron admits that he is a natural visionary, “I've always had that sense … trying to envision what it will look like.” He knew he'd always been comfortable with sales, so he started a sales training and development company. One of his first big clients breached the contract and did not pay for tens of thousands of dollars of product.

“I had nothing, and all that was funded on credit cards,” he said. He didn't have the cash flow to save that business, so he had to walk away. He moved in with his brother and decided to start over.

At this point, he knew he needed to get a job. He had debt and no income. He had a wife and new expenses. Looking for a job, he went six months without any offers. “I graduated from the top of my class at business school,” he explained, “and no one wanted me.”

It was during this time where he said he started asking God for something different. He realized that he wasn't asking the right question when he was asking for God to help him find a job. Now he always asks, “Lord, what do you want me to do?” He realizes now that not getting a job was a blessing but it didn't feel like it at the time. The answer that God gave him was to start a business doing a lecture series on leadership and entrepreneurship for BYU.

He'd had some experience at the university and some contacts, so he pitched it and he was surprised when it was approved. One of the entrepreneurs that lectured during the series approached Cameron to implement an idea. The entrepreneur agreed to put up the money if Cameron would come and build the business. He believes he was guided and said, “when I tried to do what I wanted to do I can't get a $6/hr job, but when I do what God wants me to do it happens.” He and his partner built this company from negative cash flow the first year to multi-million dollar business where he was winning awards and getting recognition.

There were times that first year that he wondered if it was going to work. “I even looked at the job boards,” he said, “then I thought, 'I don't want a job.'” Even to this day, he has nightmares about working for someone else. He attributes his success to taking his guidance from God. His practice was to take his first hour of the day to meditate and pray. He says this is the secret to success

During this journey he has always felt led to write books. “I love that writing and creating of materials,” he says. He wrote a book when he was 23 and he also was a ghostwriter for another author. This experience was the foundation for writing the book, Does Your Bag Have Holes? 24 Truths That Lead to Financial and Spiritual Freedom. That was the beginning of his authoring and publishing multiple books, and he continues to write today. “Writing is a part of my ministry, it's part of my charitable efforts. I knew we were going to be giving a lot of these away.” Because of this, he started his own publishing company. It is his venue to share and teach

When giving advice to others who are thinking about going into business he encourages people to turn to God and see yourself as He sees you. He believes that even though he didn't always believe in himself, God did and he can put his faith and trust there. “This is where the confidence comes from,” he says.


Monday, February 10, 2020

Rizo's Pizza closing; MOD Pizza coming in April

Rizo's Pizza in Ammon will be closing Feb. 22.
By Rhett Nelson
Reprinted from East Idaho News

After nearly four years, Rizo’s Pizza in Ammon is closing its doors. Seattle-based MOD Pizza recently bought the restaurant and will be moving in early April. Rizo’s last day of operation will be Saturday, Feb. 22.

Rizo's Owner Jamie Rhoda told he has decided to pursue other interests that make sense for his family at this time. “Many of you know the trials our family has been going through over the past year and 10 months. We can’t thank the community enough for supporting us over the years,” Rhoda says.

The interior of MOD Pizza in downtown Boise
Rhoda’s son, Truette, was killed in a motorcycle accident during a trip to Utah in April 2018. The events of that day still weigh heavily on Rhoda’s mind, but he says he and his family are “hanging in there.” Rhoda did not say what he’s planning to do next, but he is looking forward to turning a page and beginning a new chapter in life. And even though the business is closing, he says he’s not going anywhere. “We will continue to be part of this amazing community in other ventures and look forward to seeing all of our friends and customers that we’ve had the privilege to serve at Rizo’s,” he said.

Meanwhile, MOD Pizza is eager to open its second eastern Idaho location. The company opened its store in Pocatello in early 2019, and also has locations in Twin Falls and the Boise area.

Renovations will begin soon after Rizo’s last day of business. The remodel will include the installation of a new oven along with several additional updates.

“Rizo’s has created a wonderful gathering place for the community of Ammon, and we’re honored to be able to continue this legacy,” MOD Pizza Real Estate Director Greta Pass said in a news release.

Someone with connections to MOD Pizza approached Rhoda shortly after he made the decision to close. After learning about their business model, he says it just seemed like a good fit. “This worked out very beneficially for both of us,” Rhoda said. “We’re very happy with it, and so are they. It was a great fit.”

MOD Pizza's menu offers a variety of artisan-style pizzas made on-demand, using freshly-pressed dough and signature sauces. Customers create their own pizzas and salads, using any combination of more than 30 toppings. The menu is rounded out with the signature MOD “No Name Cake,” hand-spun milkshakes, house-made lemonades and iced teas, and beer and wine.

Scott and Ally Svenson founded MOD Pizza in Seattle 12 years ago after searching for quick, affordable and healthy dining options for their busy family. Today, there are more than 470 locations nationwide.

“Their pizza is great. They embrace their local communities and make sure their employees are the No. 1 priority,” Rhoda said. All 15 of Rizo’s employees will be able to apply for employment with MOD.

“It has been a pleasure to work with the Rhoda family during this transition, and their warm spirit will certainly live on at MOD,” Pass said.

In the final days of business, Rhoda wants to say thank you to all his customers. From now until Feb. 22, anyone who walks in and says the code word “True Blue” in honor of Truette will get a large pizza for $6.99 or a personal pizza for $3.99.

Rizo’s Pizza is open 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

When it opens, MOD Pizza's hours will be 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

East Idaho Entrepreneurs: Colter Hansen, Arcane Marketing

NOTE: Each Monday BizMojo Idaho will feature a small business profile from East Idaho Entrepreneurs, Renae Oswald's podcast focused on local people in business. This week's profile is Colter Hansen of Arcane Marketing.


Attention to Detail

Colter Hansen
As the CEO of Arcane Marketing, Colter Hansen says he does not leave anything to chance. “Going through the merger of all those companies has been no small task,” Colter says. “We all define success differently, whether in personal or professional lives ... I really like to see my team succeed.”

Colter believes that since they have done the work around roles and responsibilities it has provided needed clarity for leadership and they can provide that structure for their employees to be successful. “It's taking people places, and we want to take them places,” Colter says.

“The entrepreneurial mindset has always been with me,” he says. Colter started a landscape company when he was 16 and also hired employees. “I love seeing a finished product, the deliverable is just so much fun for me.” Seeing the outcome of hard work has always been important to Colter, and he believes that's what drives him to be a good businessman.

Upon returning from a church mission, Colter sought the advice of a successful businessman and asked him what he should do for his career. He said, “It doesn't matter, just create value.” From that, Colter started a real estate career and invested in properties. He was doing this while attending college. During his real estate investing education he loved the practical application of what he was learning. Having early success with investing he was able to form some critical relationships that helped propel him forward in his career.

His career has not been without setbacks. In 2010 he says he got his "Harvard-cost-equivalent" education after a property investment went bad and he lost six-figures-plus. “I'm able to look back at that and understand the due diligence pieces that I missed,” he said. “Not everyone who you talk to and tells you the flowery story has the right flowery story.” This experience taught him to do the absolute best for every client and follow through with what his customers are told.

Being the first international accountant hired out of school to work for Melaleuca provided him the ability to learn how to structure his own personal business from experts. He worked in the corporate world for several years and loved it, but grew tired of the travel and being away from his family. This is what led him to fully branch out on his own, partnering with Ryan Harris in Strategic Social Partners, which is now Arcane Marketing.

Colter's advice for those interested in being business owners is, “Relationships are the priceless piece of life, there's no relationship worth any amount of money to sacrifice,” he said. “The risks are that sometimes things don't go as planned ... we do the absolute best we can. ... There's risk and reward ... as long as you can sleep at night because you were honest with those you dealt with and did your absolute best.”

For more information on Arcane Marketing check out their website at For more information on RizeCon or RizeX, go to their site at

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Bioplastics company BioLogiQ plans warehouse on Professional Way

Brad LaPray, BioLogiQ CEO
It looks like there will be some major construction on Yellowstone Highway south of Sunnyside Road, with BioLogiQ planning a new warehouse on Professional Way.

According to the building permit application filed Jan. 27, the Idaho Falls company has plans for a 31,180-square-foot warehouse. The job value is estimated at $1,571,904, and the applicant is Streamline Precision Contracting of Burley. The site plan show an area marked out to the north for future building.

BioLogiQ is a bioplastics company started in 2011 by Brad LaPray, an Idaho native who grew up working in fields but left for the East Coast for 20 years. According to the company website, LaPray started BiologiQ with the intent of creating a useful plastic from excess starch created during potato processing. This led to the invention of NuPlastiQ BioPolymers and technology that enables plastic manufacturers to use their existing equipment to make sustainable plastic products.

In 2017, several farms, including Wada Farms, launched production programs to sell fresh potatoes in bags made from the company's "Tater Made®" logo that were made from BioLogiQ's NuPlastiQ resin at Wal-Mart supercenters. In addition to its headquarters in Idaho Falls, BioLogiQ has offices in Hong Kong and Shaoguan City, in China’s Guangdong Province.

To read an interview LaPray gave BioMarket Insights in 2019, follow this link: Bringing the Humble Potato Into the New Plastics Economy.

Monday, February 3, 2020

East Idaho Entrepreneurs: Cody Hellickson, Snake River Solace

NOTE: Each Monday BizMojo Idaho will feature a small business profile from East Idaho Entrepreneurs, Renae Oswald's podcast focused on local people in business. This week's profile is Cody Hellickson of Snake River Solace.


Cody Hellickson
When Cody Hellickson was a kid he never saw himself as an expert in CBD and the hemp plant. His life was challenging with his biological parents and he was adopted by his grandparents and moved to Idaho. His journey of growing up has led him to a business that he is very passionate about and he spends much of his time educating those around him about what he does.

Snake River Solace is one of East Idaho's first CBD companies. Cody provides CBD products by sourcing the main product out of state and then combining it in Idaho with other ingredients for distribution. These products include oral tincture, pet CBD spray, topical ointment, gummies, and tea. Cody is clear to say that all of their products are tested by their Montana lab to assure that no THC is in the product. Cody explained that since the company makes it's own product the cost is controlled as compared to other sources.

“Idaho is so stigmatized by the word cannabis,” Cody says, “CBD is derived from a molecule that is a cannabinoid that can … help the human body or an animal.” He ardently defends that as American's we should have the right to products that will improve the human condition, especially pain, insomnia, anxiety and other ailments that CBD has been known to help.

Cody is very passionate about educating the community and those who don't know or have a bias against CBD. He has dedicated hundreds of hours to learn all he can about cannabis, hemp, and isolated chemicals such as CBD. He's proud to say that his customers receive this expertise when they buy from him. He only sells CBD products and his shop is comfortable and family-friendly.

Due to Federal regulations around selling cannabis products, financing from banks, and even having a business bank account, is not allowed for the type of business Cody has. When he started his business he approached private investors to help him get his vision launched. “They knew me and believed in me,” Cody says. Snake River Solace has two locations in Idaho Falls and Pocatello currently. Just recently he was able to secure the ability to take credit card payments, another limitation put on his industry.

In advising anyone who would be interested in being a business owner he says, “There are going to be a lot of obstacles ... if you feel you have a good idea, have a passion behind that idea, are educated ... do it for the service.”

He has visions to assist the agriculture community when hemp is legal to farm. “It's not about a money factor, it's about a legacy or a history of getting Idaho involved and up with the rest of America,” he explained.

Despite the challenges that having a CBD company has created, Cody said he loves it and wouldn't want to do anything else right now. The future for Cody is represent CBD in Idaho and to be a resource for anyone curious about the product.


For more information on Snake River Solace, visit their website at

Friday, January 31, 2020

Bonneville Hotel in downtown Idaho Falls officially open

The facade of the Bonneville Hotel, in downtown Idaho Falls. The roof deck at the second level will be accessible to both commercial and residential occupants and will include landscaping and exterior amenities for dining, events and relaxation.
The kitchen in one of the apartments
The newly renovated Bonneville Hotel at Park Avenue and Constitution Way held a ribbon-cutting and open house Thursday, showing off an urban renewal project years in the making.

If you want to rent an apartment there you’re probably going to have to wait. All but three of the building’s 34 units — one studio apartment and two one-bedroom apartments — had been rented, said Amy Raymond, resident manager for The Housing Co.

Raymond said rent for a studio is $515/month, $606 for a one-bedroom and $708 for a two-bedroom unit. “We have such a great mix of people, from young people to retirees,” she said.

The project was announced by the Idaho Falls Redevelopment Agency, which administers money collected from the city’s urban renewal districts. IFRA put out a request for proposals in early 2016 and selected developers later that year. The winning proposal, from THC, called for a mixed-use development with commercial, retail, restaurant and residential spaces. THC was responsible for the restoration of the Whitman Hotel in Pocatello, and manages more than 1,500 units, currently assessed at over $48 million.

The cost of the project was estimated at $10 million. Approximately $440,000 will be funded by the agency, while the majority of the funding is coming from housing and historic preservation tax credits.

Built in 1927 by a group of community investors, the Bonneville was once the crown jewel of downtown Idaho Falls, but had fallen into disrepair by the turn of the millennium. The renovation required the removal of all existing plumbing and delivery lines and soil lines, down to the basement and from the basement to the street’s main discharge line. All electrical wiring and fixtures were removed and discarded except for any fixtures with historical value, which were sent out for repair and rewiring.

Lee Radford, chairman of the Redevelopment Agency, said they are very pleased with the results. “It’s what we were looking for,” he said. “It’s hard to say how long we’ve been talking about this.”

Time was of the essence, because the urban renewal district that made it possible was phased out in the fall of 2018. Idaho’s urban renewal law allows for tax increment financing in areas that wouldn’t otherwise lend themselves to economically feasible development. Basically, a property owner pays normal taxes on unimproved property, but taxes on any improvements are diverted to the redevelopment agency and the city to pay for infrastructure, e.g. curb and gutter, water and sewer, and electrical. Tax increment financing has help boost projects such as Snake River Landing and Taylor Crossing on the River, as well as the hotels on Lindsay Boulevard.

“We were always getting input from the community that they want us to do this,” Radford said. “If you have a strong center, everybody benefits from it.”

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

INL receives high Corporate Equality Index score

Idaho National Laboratory received a score of 95% on the 2020 Corporate Equality Index (CEI), the nation's premier benchmarking survey and report on corporate policies and practices relating to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) workplace equality, administered by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation. This is five points higher than the 2019 score and makes INL once again the highest scoring business in Idaho. INL’s score reflects a commitment to LGBTQ workplace equality through tangible policies, benefits and practices.

“The impact of the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index over its 18-year history is profound. In this time, the corporate community has worked with us to adopt LGBTQ-inclusive policies, practices and benefits,” said HRC President Alphonso David. “These companies know that protecting their LGBTQ employees and customers from discrimination is not just the right thing to do -- it is also the best business decision.”  

Key policies that earned INL a top score include:
  • Support an inclusive culture for everyone.
  • Offer equitable benefits for LGBTQ employees and their families including transgender-inclusive health-care coverage.
  • Aligned philanthropic grant process with our business strategy that charitable organizations receiving INL grants must be inclusive of all people.
  • Provided vendors the option to self-identify as an LGBTQ-owned business.
  • Updated relocation policy to encompass immediate family, which includes domestic partners.
“I’m proud that the Corporate Equality Index has once again recognized INL as a top inclusive employer. We’re dedicated to ensuring workplace equality for everyone and being a vocal advocate for equality inside and outside the laboratory by aligning our community giving and outreach to our business values,” said Juan Alvarez, INL deputy laboratory director for Management and Operations and chief operating officer.

The 2020 CEI evaluates LGBTQ-related policies and practices including nondiscrimination workplace protections, domestic partner benefits, transgender-inclusive health-care benefits, competency programs, and public engagement with the LGBTQ community. For more information on the 2020 Corporate Equality Index, or to download a free copy of the report, visit

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation is the educational arm of America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

Idaho Falls Regional Airport hits record numbers in 2019

The Idaho Falls Regional Airport (IDA) continues to break passenger records, with 30,093 more people using the airport in 2019 over 2018.

The 2019 passenger count total for IDA was 352,093, which broke the previous record of 328,364, set in 2014. The 2019 numbers are the highest numbers in the airport’s history.

The total number of enplanements -- passengers getting on flights -- in 2019 was 177,168, up from 161,019 in 2018.

“These are all numbers we have received from the air carriers that serve the airport,” said IDA Director Rick Cloutier. “These will be reported to the FAA by the airlines and are the numbers used by the FAA to categorize airports and help determine the levels of federal funding available to us.”

Those numbers represent a 9% increase in air travelers going through IDA in 2019. That is on top of an additional 9% increase that the airport saw from 2017 to 2018.

“A lot of factors go into accounting for those increased numbers,” said Cloutier. “Overall, this just demonstrates that we have a very healthy amount of business and leisure travel going on here. I think that we can continue to expect those numbers to get even better with the recent changes we’ve implemented and the improvements that we’ll continue to see here over the next few years.”

The airport recently added new restaurant services and will also begin construction soon on a terminal expansion. This expansion will add a three new gates and added area in the security screening and gate areas. The airport also recently opened its brand new and upgraded baggage claim and improved airport security service with the TSA Pre Check line for approved passengers.

In addition, IDA recently announced that United Airlines will begin providing a fifth daily flight to Denver for the first time in the airport’s history. United has also announced that they are increasing the size of the aircraft for two of those daily flights, adding 102 new seats daily, or 50 percent more capacity to the Denver destination. The new, larger aircraft also will add a first class seating section that has not previously been available.

“The more people using the airport, the more services airlines are inclined to offer in terms of plane size, destinations and pricing,” Cloutier said. “As they see the growth here they want to provide more services and more destinations.  That will mean a lot more options for east Idaho and the surrounding region.”

Monday, January 27, 2020

New to BizMojo Idaho: East Idaho Entrepreneurs

This week I'm happy to announce a new relationship with East Idaho Entrepreneurs, a podcast started in 2018 by Renae Oswald. I was not aware of the work she has been doing until a few weeks ago, when I saw a link on Facebook. When I saw it, it reminded me of the weekly business profiles I did for the Post Register when I was the business reporter, albeit on a 21st century platform. When I reached out to her to compliment her on her work, we decided that we might be able to help each other.

As a result, I'm going to be reprinting her content weekly and posting links to her website in hopes of getting her more recognition. From my end, good, original content is like gold, so this is something that will add value to BizMojo Idaho.

Here is EIE's most recent posting, about Logan and Bobby Thomas of High Country Cleaning. The link to the podcast is at the bottom, or you can go to it here.

Born to Create

Logan and Bobby Thomas
Both Logan and Bobby Thomas started their entrepreneurial journey when they were preteens. Logan had a lawn care business and Bobby raised chickens and sold their eggs. When they found each other while attending college, they knew they were the perfect fit and could see their lives being that of an entrepreneurial couple.

Logan started High Caliber Cleaning while attending college. At that time it was a mobile car cleaning service and Bobby said, “he had a vacuum and a sponge, that's all he had. He'd do details for people and go to school.” At the same time, Bobby was a financial advisor and really loved her job. After they got married they realized that their careers were taking them opposite directions and so Bobby decided to quit her job and join the business full-time

“I was all about the datasheets and the finances and the money and the business aspect,” Bobby said, “(Logan's) always been a big risk-taker.” Ever since they've combined their efforts they have grown the business and see how they are creating their future together. She shared that making the sacrifice to give up her career track was worth it. “I feel like millenials have big dreams and aspirations, what sets us apart is that we are serious about our success.”

“Entrepreneurship is something you are born with ... you don't learn how to never give up. That's something you are born with,” Bobby said. Both Logan and Bobby were raised by parents who taught them how to work and if they wanted something that they needed to go get it. Bobby feels that helps to make them the perfect match and set them up for success. “They were creating these powerhouses,” she said.

Working together as a couple has presented it's own challenges, but Bobby and Logan feel that they are good complements to each other. Bobby admits that she looks at things very different from Logan but they are able to balance each other out. “The first year … that was tough,” she said, “I think it made us stronger and it keeps building.” Bobby feels that being humble and vulnerable together has helped them be successful.

Watching other couples and their success in the 9 to 5 sometimes makes them wonder if entrepreneurship was the right decision. She admits the security would be nice at times but says, “the more secure you are the less opportunity you have. There's so much opportunity out there, that opportunity would be capped if I was working a 9 to 5.

High Caliber Cleaning is looking to expand to Boise and Bobby and Logan see their future in real estate. The future is bright for them and their determination feels like it will fuel them to their next big steps

For more information on High Caliber Cleaning go to
Thank you to Disruptive Productions for editing the show. Check them out at