The Ground Floor

betexion/Pixabay

The diversity of businesses in the Rogue Valley is surprising.  Until you realize that the businesses started to serve a particular human want or need. 

In Pickled Planet's case, it addresses the desire for (need for?) sauerkraut and other fermented foods.  Courtland Jennings started the business and visited once before to talk about the products in our food segment. 

He returns for our entrepreneur/business segment, The Ground Floor, to talk about the business side. 

maskit.us

Somehow, we've reached a point in history where we can talk and joke about sex--a lot--and yet never talk about menstruation.  Shallan Ramsay not only talked about it, she devised a product to help women deal with periods. 

Thus was born MaskIT, a compostable product that allows women to dispose of pads and tampons in public restrooms without risk of exposure to blood-borne pathogens.  And the product is not all business; there are also messages of encouragement to women in the packaging. 

How did Shallan Ramsay decide to make MaskIT?  That's one of the first questions in this month's edition of The Ground Floor, our business/entrepreneur segment. 

KDA Homes

For once, The Ground Floor focuses on a business that really deals with ground floors.  KDA Homes in the Rogue Valley brings some experienced builders together to create housing that incorporates recent innovations in energy, in design, and in concept. 

An example is The Garden Cottages in Ashland, a set of smaller homes designed to function as a community. 

Laz Ayala, who joined us a few months ago to talk about immigrating to the United States, is one of the partners in KDA. 

12019/Pixabay

This time of year, it's easy to see pictures of wildland firefighters wearing yellow shirts and green pants.  It's not just a uniform; the clothing is fire resistant.  And it's not always comfortable. 

A quest to find FR clothing that is also easy to wear led to the creation of the Rogue Valley company Massif, which now supplies FR clothing to all branches of the armed forces.  We get the story of Massif's birth, growth, and sale in this month's edition of our business segment, The Ground Floor. 

Pexels/Pixabay

We wouldn't have these jobs if we didn't believe in the power of audio.  Craig Black got to a similar place many years ago, deciding to start a company that specialized in what we then called "books on tape." 

The tape is gone, but the books are not, and what became Blackstone Publishing is thriving.  We get the story on the birth and growth of the company in our regular business segment, The Ground Floor. 

Grown Rogue

Businesses that were flat-out impossible a few years ago are thriving under the legalization of marijuana for personal use. 

One example: Grown Rogue, which provides cannabis and concentrates in many different varieties.  The company describes itself as a "seed-to-sale" operation, involved in cannabis from cultivation to final product. 

Sarah and Obie Strickler started the company and run it still. 

Facebook

Don't let the name fool you.  Wilderness Poets is not actually about poetry; the Ashland-based company is in the food business. 

Its nut butters and other products are made from the harvests of organic farms in the region, and the company has been at it for more than a decade. 

Wilderness Poets is our focus in this month's edition of The Ground Floor, our business/entrepreneur segment. 

chezbeate/Pixabay

New products for skin care and adornment debut all the time, making all kinds of claims about their scientific foundations.  But the practices are very old, in some cases. 

The Rogue Valley's Neeta Singh learned techniques and substances from her mother and grandmother that may date back five thousand years.  And she built a business on them, Neeta Naturals Ayurvedic Beauty & Wellness

Neeta Naturals and its founder are this month's focus in our business/entrepreneur segment, the Ground Floor. 

Pixabay

Would you like to hear about today's specials?  By the time you get that question, you've got a restaurant menu in your hands.  And a Rogue Valley company makes sure the menus have an impact on a customer. 

Jim Williams is the CEO of Ashland-based Must Have Menus; he is our guest in this month's edition of our entrepreneur segment, The Ground Floor. 

True South Solar

Will there come a day when all of our electricity truly comes from renewable sources?  If so, Eric Hansen plans to be ready. 

He is the founder of True South Solar, which installs photovoltaic panels all over the Rogue Valley.  The business has grown since Hansen and Shawn Schreiner started the company not quite ten years ago. 

It is the focus of our business segment, The Ground Floor, this month. 

Quantum Innovations

If you've ever been to an eye doctor and got quizzed about the kind of coating you'd like on your glasses, you've got the beginning of an understanding of what Quantum Innovations in Central Point does. 

But lens coating is just the tip of a very big iceberg.  Quantum founder Norm Kester is the guest on this month's edition of our business segment, The Ground Floor. 

naturalearthpaint.com

We want to encourage kids to be creative, but yikes, that is a big paint stain on the floor!  Although... that's not an issue if the paint is a certain kind, as in the kind made by Ashland-based Natural Earth Paint

The company's products are for kids, from the environment, and good for the environment.  And they clean up pretty well, too. 

We learn more about the company and its creation from founder Leah Fanning, in this month's edition of our business segment, The Ground Floor. 

Ascentron.com

The technology sector of the economy is about ideas; cool new things that can make the world a better place.  But after the ideas, somebody's got to make the stuff. 

And that's where Ascentron, based in White City, comes in.  The company manufactures a variety of items, from printed circuit boards to complete assemblies, for industries ranging from medical to military. 

And the company managed to survive the recession of several years ago. 

This month's edition of The Ground Floor, our business segment, focuses on Ascentron and its ascent (sorry). 

Skitterphoto/Pixabay

Who knew board games could still be a big deal in the age of video and virtual reality?  Jeff DeBoer, for one. 

He turned his love for board, card, and table games into a business model years ago: Funagain Games.  The company runs physical stores in Ashland and Eugene, but sells games both new and old online to customers all over the world. 

Our business segment, The Ground Floor, pays a visit to Jeff DeBoer to learn more about how he got his game business from square one to success. 

JESHOOTScom/Pixabay

Of all the businesses you could start in today's world, would a bank be on top of the list? 

The megabanks seem to rule the business, continually buying up the local operations.  Yet one regional outfit, People's Bank of Commerce, has managed to stay local and independent for 20 years now. 

How is the number one question for Ken Trautman, who started the bank with Mike Sickels.  Ken is our guest in this month's edition of The Ground Floor, our survey of entrepreneurs in the region. 

Noble Coffee Roasting/Instagram

Jared Rennie picked a good time in history to get into the coffee business. 

He started Noble Coffee Roasting in Ashland at about the time the taste for coffee products of all kinds exploded.  His belief in coffee certainly paid off in the success of his business. 

His is truly a story of knowing when to get in on the ground floor. 

palletwine.com

The rise of the wine industry in the region uncorked a whole range of businesses. 

We have vineyards, and wineries, and places that have nothing to do with the actual growing of grapes (but are still a key part of the wine business). 

We put Medford's Pallet Wine Company in that final category.  The plant takes the grapes brought in by growers and turns them into wine. 

All growers need to bring is the grapes and the money.  Linda Donovan started Pallet after years in the wine business. 

ODOT

The beauty of the Rogue River is best enjoyed from a boat.  Highways and hiking paths just don't get to all of the stunning views of the river and its canyons and rapids. 

Many people enjoy the river from rafts, others prefer motorized accommodations.  That's where Hellgate Jetboat Excursions comes in. 

The boats have been skimming the river for 59 years now.  Current general manager Travis Hamlyn succeeded his father Robert, and knows the story of the company's rise well. 

Roguecreamery.com

The Rogue Valley is generally known for its sweet and juicy agricultural products: pears for eating and grapes for making wine. 

But the dairy industry is rising in stature, thanks in part to the work of the Rogue Creamery

Owner David Gremmels bought an established business and added his own distinctive stamp.  What IS in the Caveman Blue Cheese?  These and other questions are revealed in this month's edition of The Ground Floor, about entrepreneurs and their work. 

flowjo.com

Fans of track and field perk up at the mention of "FloJo."  The late Florence Griffith-Joyner's records in the 100 and 200 meter races still stand. 

But FlowJo, based in Ashland, is a different entity entirely.  We get to hear how different, in this month's edition of The Ground Floor, our business segment. 

FlowJo is in the flow cytometry business, helping biology researchers work with single cells with the use of lasers and computers.  Mike Stadnisky is the CEO of the company, now a subsidiary of a larger firm. 

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