Three (or four) questions for Private 150 executives

Our July/August issue features OB‘s annual ranking of the state’s privately held companies.  We follow up by asking executives from three of the fastest growing Private 150 firms about managing growth, new product launches and industry challenges and opportunities.

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Ed Gerdes, general counsel, Café Yumm!

OB: What are your top growth drivers?

EG: We focus on food consistency, local sourcing, fresh preparation and organically certified food. Over 50% of our food is certified organic. No other restaurant group our size or larger serves this much certified organic food. Guests also like our triple bottom line business management philosophy. We are an Oregon Benefit Company.

OB: What is the biggest challenge you face as you continue to grow so rapidly?

EG: One is that we must strengthen our training programs to replicate the Yumm! experience in each new location. Two is that we must continue helping local farmers convert conventional land to organic land. This year alone we are helping convert 600 acres to organic production.

OB: You were founded in 1998 and apparently saw the healthy fast casual market coming! How do you plan to compete with the growing number of companies entering the market?

EG: We will continue following our core values. Triple bottom line business management means that when making decisions we consider not just profits, but impact on our team members, guests, communities where we operate, and the environment. Our guests know and appreciate our commitment as a business being part of the solution, not the problem.

John Marick, CEO, Consumer Cellular

016 Consumer Cellular

OB: What are your top growth drivers?

        JM: a. Our pricing and services are tailored specifically for the 50+ market we focus on.

              b. Award winning customer support that sets us apart in the industry. 

              c. Strong partnerships with companies like Target, AARP, AT&T, Apple that help us attract and serve our customers.

OB: What is the biggest challenge you face as you continue to grow so rapidly?

JM: Finding enough of the right people in our Portland, Redmond and Phoenix locations to maintain the high level of support for our growing customer base.  

OB: What excites you about the new headquarters? [Consumer Cellular is moving this month to new offices in Tigard]

JM: We are looking forward to the added space, which will enable us to grow and meet the needs of our customers.  Beyond that, it’s always fun to have something shiny and new.

Larry Broadfoot, sales & marketing leader, Collins Pine Co.

038 TIE Collins OB: Collins was ahead of the game in sustainable forestry certification.  What is the next big thing for the green forest products biz?

      LB: Collins was the first privately held company in the U.S. to FSC-certify their entire forest lands [over 311,000 acres] and seven of their facilities. The next big thing is the Living Building Challenge and other forms of HPD’s [Health Product Declaration] which is similar to a nutrition label, but for building products.

      OB: Does Collins have plans to participate in the CLT industry Oregon is trying to nurture?

      LB: Yes, there is definitely opportunity there for us. We will be supplying FSC certified softwood lumber for the CLT industry.     

      OB: What are your high growth products and markets?

      LB: Collins Pine Particleboard MR50, a highly moisture resistant product, for commercial interiors and cabinetry sector. Collins Hardwood lumber for the interior millwork and furniture industry are slated for growth.

      OB: Did you attend the Guangzhou furniture fair? How is the Chinese market driving change in the industry?

      LB:  Yes, we exhibited at Interzum Guangzhou this Spring and also at FMC China in the Fall. The Chinese market is leveling off and some manufacturing is returning to N. America. China will remain an important export market for the Unites States, as the Chinese domestic interior millwork and furniture markets continue to grow.