Monday, December 28, 2015

Cleaning Up 2015

When the year began, we pressed hard at a new directive focused on eliminating wasteful projects that took us away from our core business. It was painful for us, in particular, me. I have a lot of visions in my head (some sane, some not) as to all the different things we COULD do, but perhaps maybe we should not because it becomes a distraction, and all projects suffer from a lack of attention.

When I look back on it, it was the right thing to do, but I have a parking lot stalled with ideas at some point I wish to pursue. Most likely I will not get to them, but I can say that keeping focused has been the best choice we could have made. Our company is healthier than ever, growing, and looking to keep on task for 2016. 2015 was a year of janitorial efforts, and we are happy to see it close on a good note. Bring on 2016!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Thank You Columbian!

A nice article on LUSB and the industry as a whole. So much more to discuss as the maker movement and craft skills become cool again!

Special thanks to Lily Raff MacCaulou. Also, please read her book found here on Amazon:

A special journey penned in a sincere voice...


Thursday, November 26, 2015


This Thanksgiving, we are thankful for our health and happiness at LUSB. Special thanks to our staff who make every day great for us...

Monday, November 9, 2015

Of Elephants and Donkeys

I love politics. Every four years we are treated to bloviated debates, rabid accusatory and defaming attacks, media sensationalism, and a generally growing distrust of the process for which we participate in a Presidential election. Oh the humanity! Or lack thereof...

I am no longer affiliated with either the jackass or the elephant. I will no longer subscribe to blatant attempts of alienating each other's views and opinions. I observe value in each party, with ideals that can resonate, and I believe do reside, within each person in the United States. I see value in helping others, and I see value in fiscal conservation. I see value in treating Earth responsibly, and allowing commerce to drive innovation and growth. I see balance where all I am told is there cannot be. Either party is unwilling unless it is all, or nothing. Have we, as a people, allowed divisive tactics to control us? Have we become so lazy as to not think for ourselves and accept a party's line as true and final? How did we get here? The chasm is widening, fast.

I was recently listening to Michael Smerconish, a refreshingly objective voice in talk radio. "Really? That exists?," you ask? Yes - And I wonder if he can survive. I turn the radio on each morning to listen to him. I hope he is still there - Still able to draw advertisers to sponsor his time slot on SiriusXM. (Mad thanks to Steven Singer) I am excited to hear his next guest and the remarkably kind and thoughtful presentation he puts forward. I am indeed restored of hope that we, as a people, can once again have civil discussion without discord, even in disagreement. I was hoping he would run for President, then I realized, no man with as discerning an intellect would choose such a path. But I would vote for him. Because he is real and not a fabrication of ego and celebratory pageantry. He is not a rollover accident we can't keep our eyes off of, nor a wart on the nose of the person in front of us. But apparently, that is not what is required to be a good President of the United States of America. No, what is needed is controversy, damning evidence, illogically designed statements of policy, parasitically crafted PR capitalizing on the short term memory loss of our populous. But we need a leader of reason, not treason. We need a leader to stand for all Americans, knowing not all will be satisfied 100% of the time, but for that leader to allow voices of opposition and dissent to also be heard when their agenda cannot be readily adopted in full. We require compassion and understanding, strong will and diligent study, and most of all, a leader who will truly lead rather than follow a party line. Mr. Smerconish will most likely never run for office, but he represents what I believe most of us are looking for. I go to bed tonight with hope, yet.

Whatever your affiliation, I implore you to take time away from shallow political rants on Facebook featuring the latest subjectively articulated meme persuading you to nod in agreement. I beg of you to think through the challenges we face on your own, and while we can and will elect our next leader to drive the bus forward, we individually should be responsible for crafting our own opinions into our policy agenda. We, as a people, have driven so far away from civility and reason I often wonder if we can find our way home? There appears to be a vanishing point off in the distance to the current cycle, but maybe we can right ourselves and find the common ground of understanding with each other that makes sense for all.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Why Those Big Carrots Are Often Rotten...

Recently (last year) I engaged in a discussion with a client about their desire to sell to a large retail chain. We had a spirited debate and calculated the impact a year's worth of sales might have on their business. After some chalkboard math and rampant skewed assumptions, we determined that the company would grow revenue 300% year-over-year and carry a net operating profit forward on that line of sales of roughly 4%. The volume, no question, was impressive. The effort, and the qualifications to make it happen, were dramatically more intense than what the client envisioned. Fast forward 1 year and the client has abandoned the large retail chain. Why? It was simply too much for them to handle as a small company. The NOP they targeted at 4% was actually 1.5% and the volume they hoped for was 40% of projected. Overall, their business did grow revenue, however, it cost them plenty elsewhere. What happened?

The first thing the client admitted to was that they were not adequately staffed to support the sales. Staff were scrambling to accommodate additional work but were buried in regulatory requirements that they were unfamiliar with and had to learn, as well as left their existing duties on simmer with an occasional stir. Staff were overwhelmed, and a rapid hiring process delivered unqualified folks that did not represent the culture or values the company had built itself on.

Client saw existing business suffering a loss in sales, and inventory positions were damaged greatly. As this remarkable opportunity began to unfold, internally they began to implode. Sales teams were not meeting goals elsewhere as they had no product to ship, and the large volume retailer spawned a backlash from existing clients as they now had to compete on an even greater level of price slashes and inventory position. Overall, the company was struggling to maintain both business segments simultaneously. This also created a division, and resentment, by the sales staff working on legacy clients vs. those on the mass market side.

Cash was swallowed up by the demand for inventory by the retailer. All the investment dollars the company had squirreled away quickly evaporated into low margin sales and drove the business into an anemic cash mode. Payroll was difficult to meet, and A/P began to drag out, creating issues with vendors and damaging their otherwise stellar reputation.

So all of this sounds really crappy, right? What seemed so great turned into a gold plated turd overnight, and the company licked it's wounds for a few months before recovering enough to be able to regain the trust of their existing market. Yes, it did not turn out the way they hoped, however, it did have a silver lining. Within a few months of launching the ill-fated campaign the company received interest from a competitor in selling their market share to them. The competitor feared that this new mass market strategy would kill their business, and rather than fight it, they opened conversations on merging their business into the other for very agreeable terms. It also attracted an investment partner. This was great, but not the best part of the story. Through the process and difficulties uprising from this endeavor, they recommitted themselves to the principles that made them great in the first place. They circled back to innovation in market vs. revenue, and as a result doubled their head count and grew sales 4x. It a took a planned departure from their original strategy to solidify their focus, but they were better for it in the end.

The moral of the story is that if you want to swim in the ocean with the big fish, you better have a safe escape plan. Be prepared, know when to cut bait, and make sure to remember where you came from.

Friday, September 4, 2015

The Maker Profile by Wallace MacGregor

"The Maker. Our newest fascination with a leather clad bearded hipster wallet making craftopian. After liberal arts college dropout Micah traveled through Costa Rica on a gluten free expedition, he spent a few weeks on his cousin Brenda's couch in PDX researching airport carpets and the affects on travelers of sub-saharan African heritage. Micah said it was important work and he was being commissioned by grant monies generated from a government research fund for sons of left-handed longshoreman. Micah had a drive to craft the best wallet known to man. He sought sustainable materials and holistic sewing contractors and vegan-only designers and publicly decreed it so. He built tri-folds and bi-folds and upside down folds and a line for women, too. He branded it perfectly flawed and set out to PR the world to its knees and succeeded. Micah had built an elaborate structure of subs and contractors and held a few well-paid in quinoa and kale chip employees that were fiercely loyal and would fight Donald Trump's hair at the drop of a hat. Micah revered the sewing needle and would spew forth repugnant core-bonded thread knowledge at his later-night tapas parties with craft cocktails served in mason jars and stirred with a hatchet recently stained with sap from a doug fir. His friends were engrossed in Micah's splendor and the local magazines lust for more Micah, even so far as to censor Bernie Sanders' latest speech to a paragraph of obscurity. The beat lived on for 3 years of snowballing leather dust and a pop-up shop fell from the sky to turn into a retail phenomenon on the Alberta corridor where the line-ups for frozen dairy began to look like a crowd at a passé sporting event. All this next to Micah where his Honduran grown cotton fair trade sans child labor crew neck ($69) hung vibrantly from vintage rusted pipes repurposed from the school where his mom's cousin's uncle Jim went to school. Every turn told a story of triumph and the message became more than the product and soon a new Micah appeared with fairer trade cotton from a land where Nat Geo might have written about and it became too hip not to be bearded and so Micah sold out to his employees in what was known as the right thing to do always."

-Wallace MacGregor, 2015

Monday, August 24, 2015

The Trouble With Dogs

Dogs are so perfect in so many ways. I love them. I never did as a child. I do now, though. I love my dog and I know he loves me. He's the first to greet me and the last to leave my side. He's special and caring and loving and awesome. The trouble with him is that he is sick. He has cancer. Not anything curable, either. Best I can do is wait it out and love that little guy with all my heart. The trouble with dogs is that we grow so attached and it is hard to let go. The trouble with dogs is that they are family. The trouble with dogs is that they just don't stick around long enough. Love you Chance. Hope that rainbow bridge doesn't come too soon...

A Return to Thought

Over 2 months since I posted anything. Whoops! Got busy. School is about to begin for the kids and some of my friends are sending theirs away to college. So great to see all the new beginnings and chapters closed and others opened. If there is one thing I might do again it would be to explore a bit more when I was younger. See more of the world. I have been fortunate to see a small section of foreign lands, however small, yet I have learned so much from such a small sampling overall. Each new surrounding is a fantastic opportunity for growth. My kids haven't seen a lot yet. I am worried sometimes they will grow up myopic by default and not learn to see how different each culture, each region, and each society are. There are dark places everywhere, and from seeing those we learn to appreciate the luxuries we engage in here in the US. How easy it is to start a business here - Not easy to succeed but easy to at least originate and start. Then again, if I were in inner Detroit 5 years ago, I might suggest otherwise. We do not always appreciate these things here in the US and take them for granted. I believe it is in our nature to become complacent, comfortable, take the easy path. Go somewhere different that is stark in contrast and perhaps a lesson, one that will stay with you, is inherent in the visit. I will take my kids to that place where they can learn that lesson. It is what I need to do, at least for my sake. This hot, dry, arid summer is turning our skies into smoke filled hazes that filter the view in way that looks like aging science class movies I remember as a kid. The lack of water in the west has forced me to think different again. Seems the comfort is lessening and the urgency great. I might suggest we all reexamine our surroundings and assess what is important. Never know when uncertainty might strike. Same goes for business. What's your disaster plan? Do you have one? Do you need one? Do you care about one?

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Stress Is My Normal

So for this post, it goes without saying, stress has become a normal for too many of us. We are worried about money, careers, our kids, their kids, our parents, our pets, our clients, our bosses, our employees, and any host of other people or things that seem to weave within the fabric of our lives. Stress is our new normal. We wear it like a badge of honor. We embrace it and protect it and promote it until it is a dependent child with a short leash. We become addicted to it, and it becomes us. Three things I find to deflect the stressful stress: 1. Music. Either I play it on my guitar or I listen to it. It is an almost instant release. A must to defeat the disease of stress. 2. Exercise. I have always been relieved of this demon with a good run, long walk, or other form of exercise. Simple, effective, and always a rewarding endeavor. 3. Fishing. Yes, I know, this sounds more like evading the issue, but there is always something therapeutic in the art of fishing for me. Your activity may be knitting, drawing, or something else, but if it is a passion it will prevail and return your emotional self to balance. We can all use to eliminate some stress. Find your buttons and push them, and get to living healthier, stress-less lives.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Makers & Artisans Explode, So How About We Teach Our Youth?

It's all the rage. DIY in-house tinkering and crafting and building and making. We are, at our most primitive, innovators as humans. We find ways to improve our quality of life as often as we can or need to our of necessity. So it should come as no surprise we have identified this skill set as a proposed profession as well. While, I admit, the two are not necessarily an apples-to-apples match, they are both born out of our curiosity, will, and desire to live better. The 'Maker' movement, the 'Artisan' movement, etc. are the new terms we use for an always developing group of individuals, etc. that are spawning nationwide, and worldwide for that matter, dedicated to learning, practicing, and perfecting a craft. Every day as I walk downtown, read the paper (yes, I am old school,) or see a tweet regarding a new Maker or Artisan or Crafty-person I am reminded that we are, at the essence of our being, people that love to explore new horizons. I sincerely wish our educational system were supportive of this, rather than the K-12 institutional complex of standardized testing and trail leading to nausea-inducing Scantrons filled with #2 pencil rectangular shapes. I believe we should develop each Maker from childhood, giving each of us an introduction to our own hands-on abilities and creative instincts. This does not mean we create a society of small batch artisan crafty heads - it means we allow some instinctual capabilities to resonate internally, and somewhere along the way each child develops their own identity with what they are comfortable with, and allow them to excel if that is a path they feel good about. Why do we not teach arts and crafts? Why do we focus on STEM? Ingenuity and innovation are not limited to scientific applications, rather, I would argue they are uniquely attached to each other in advancing one another, both in the equipment and the mindset. Perhaps, this newly named movement will refocus our educational efforts and realize the value in continuing arts, trades, and skilled craftsman that may or may not need an educational path through traditional 4 year institutions. Where are the apprenticeship programs that are available to all? They rarely exist today, and that is a shame. Time to shift the mentality in this country and get away from such narrowly focused attention to mandated testing criteria.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Making The Leap

Every month I am confronted by the reluctant entrepreneur regarding taking that next leap into their own business. So often the risks build an obstacle in front of them they feel too large to contend with. If you are going to be an entrepreneur, you better be comfortable with risk. The only folks that don't think some risk is agreeable are those in static coma, or bankers. You will at some point be forced to stretch your neck across that line, and hope like heck your head does not roll. But if it does roll, and most likely it will at some time, get your best needle and thread out and sew it back on. You will be wiser and more mature for your next venture outside. Take the leap of faith. You will never know if it was a good idea unless you try. I suggest weighing your own constitution first, and if it allows, go for it. If you aren't feeling it, wait. It may come later in life, or never at all, but at least you followed your instinct and made decisions you can live with. If you go to bed wondering every night 'what could have been,' you may have to force yourself to jump from the ledge. It's OK, there are many of us out there that are waiting to catch you and help you back up.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Recipes for Success

I have a friend who likes to believe he will be a success in business. I believe in him. I trust he will succeed. But I do caution him to use a recipe that will help him achieve his goals. The recipe is something like this: 1 tbsp Inspiration 1 tbsp Optimism 5 cups Perspiration 2 tbsp Failure 1 cup Persistence 1 cup Reality Sprinkle with Purpose and bake for as long as you need to succeed. I am my own worst critic. I have a bunch of shortcomings. I m not as organized as I should be. I am not as focused as needed. I like shiny stuff. All combined it makes success difficult, but it also makes it even more rewarding. Despite my obstacles internally, I still find a way to make successes out of my work even when failures appear as well. I believe, and some weird study out of a university says, that success is made up of learning lessons from continually failing. Reality hurts, but it trains us to either evolve or become extinct. In some cases, extinction is good. Look at DDT. At the time, it was the wonder powder that would save farming. Shortly (some 80 years later) there after, it was vilified and was banned for health concerns. Paul Hermann Müller developed this product and won a Nobel Prize for it. Fast forward a few years later, and he's a villain, or at least his product was... The point is that trial and error, even if over long periods of time, pushes us further to continually develop and redevelop our initiatives for the better. While at some point Mr. Müller was a genius, and rightfully so, but his work did not end there. It spawns hundreds of other young scientists to push through his work and carry on with their own. They apply the recipe and hammer out their products so we, as a community, can further challenge ourselves and our ideas as to their merit. As my friend likes to tell me, he "will be" a success. And I agree, as long as he accepts defeat during the process as a drive to further development.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Impact Washington making an Impact

So there is this lovely lady name Kristin Kautz. Kristin is a soft spoken, kind woman who 'works' for Impact Washington. I say 'work' because I do not believe she truly works at what she does, rather, she puts forth enjoyable efforts. Her demeanor, passion, and thoughtfulness are evident from the day you meet her, and while I know it is a traditional working job, she exhibits anything but typical in her outward, smiling appearance. Now, understand, her 'putting forth enjoyable effort' is a term that should be valued by all of us, and we should all be so lucky to share in such a splendid way of carrying on about our day. I do not, however, mean to diminish her work in any way, only to recognize that she is a rare person who throughout her interactions is sincerely happy to be doing what she is doing. How many of us can say that? How many of us say to ourselves everyday that we made a difference somewhere, or for someone? I truly believe she can, and I am proud to have been able to meet her and engage her with LUSB. We will be a better organization because of her, and for that, I am truly grateful... Thanks Kristin!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

In 'Cahoots'

Today, on a ride back from Seattle, my business associate used the word 'cahoots.' I kind of giggled. It sounds like a word used by Bugs Bunny or other cartoony character. I thought about the word a lot, and realized that almost all collaborative decisions might be considered 'in cahoots.' So, basically, I am 'in cahoots' with many associates, friends, etc. both in personal life and in work. You probably are, too! So next time, instead of just agreeing with someone, consider yourself 'in cahoots' - sounds a whole lot more suspicious and daring.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

A View Of A Hero

I respect our military. In the airport I often thank our service folks for their volunteer duty. I am proud they work for us. They sacrifice a portion of their lives. They become an asset of the government and forego their own interests for a period of time. I applaud them. Now, I must reflect on another hero. Those who are involuntarily assigned a battle they did not wish to partake. A battle that might disable them, strip them of their vanity, and eliminate their drive and will. This fight comes with dangerous injections and sometimes violent repercussions. This fight reigns supreme inside their bodies and wages war in a way that cannot be fathomed by the individual, reasoned by their inner circle, nor clearly identified by the medical community as to an outcome. Cancer brings tanks to a knife fight, and we, as humans, attempt to build warheads to aggressively defend our health. These wars are won and lost routinely, but never in vain. These wars are fought in the battlefields of living rooms, drives to the store, trips to the oncologist, and alone in the darks of the mind of those inflicted. Cancer is a bitch-whore on the second floor making noise in the middle of the night. Something you wish you could get rid of but haven't found the path to do so yet. Cancer remains a constant reminder in my life that life is precious. Live how you wish, and be who you mean to be, for it may be short. Don't settle for what is 'just OK' but rather take life by the horns and ride it through the years. For my friends I know who are in the fight right now, please dig deep and rely on me to assist you when you feel there is nothing more you can do. I will be here for you. I know you are strong and amazing and a power that can overcome. I am sorry you are in this position, but I am confident you are the person that can win. Bless you Matt & Brandie. We are here for you and fighting in spirit every day. You are my heroes.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

New Group Calls It Out On The Carpet

A newly formed advocacy group was recently formed in the northwest to support the outdated carpet in the PDX airport. The newly formed PDXCAGUACT (Portland Carpet Advocacy Group United Against Carpet Terrorism) aims to bring awareness to the horrible plight of the seemingly aged Portland airport carpet. Sadly, the carpet has been ripped from it’s home like a refugee in the third world, creating massive hysteria and discomfort for 7 people in the northwest and some news outlets. In an effort to identify why the carpet has become the target of what is being described as the worst case of floor covering terrorism in recent history, we asked some folks at the Port of Portland to describe the hostile action. Johnny Highflier, who identified himself as a Port associate twice removed but still remotely related to the incident, stated “This carpet makes no sense anymore. It is dirty, aging, and hideous to the eye. It has created so much displeasure it has to go.” A spokesman from PDXCAGUACT countered with, “This carpet has a cultural significance that cannot be measured by microns of dirt and bodily fluids under UV. This carpet inspired me to become a dog trainer, and many more are devastated at the treatment it is receiving. Floor coverings just keep getting stepped on, and that’s not fair.” As of today crews are actively replacing the carpet, with get this - more ugly carpet. News of the switch to the new and improved ugly carpet had the PDXCAGUACT in a tizzy, not knowing what to do with it’s campaign as it seems to be losing coverage in news channels it once dominated for one newscast. However turbulent the situation, the new carpet is taking the situation as expected. When asked how it was feeling about replacing it’s predecessor, it had no comment.

As the old carpet is removed we can only speculate that the PDXCAGUACT will be forced to retire the supporting Facebook page and assorted useless merchandise it created for future landfill use. As always, we’ll keep you updated here as to the status of all parties. Oh, and Keep Portland Weird.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Hey All, We're Having A Garage Sale!

Keep an eye out here for news on our garage sale. Soon we will be liquidating tons of fabrics, hardware, webbing, etc. from our Carson warehouse. We will post notes as to when and where this will occur... Stay tuned...

Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Passing of Stuart Scott

Today was bittersweet. When we lose someone in the community, in our family, anyone we feel a connection to, we reflect in so many ways and find so many emotions buried under our outward armor. This morning, about 8am, after a fitful night of sleep that saw my eyes open far too often, I awoke to the news online that Stuart Scott had died at the young age of 49.

I remember the first few times I saw Stuart on TV. I am sure I was not endeared to him. I am sure that I was a bit put off by his delivery. After all, I was a middle class seemingly white youth with only hip hop CD's to connect me to the African American community. My connection to his world was ancillary at the most remote of descriptive language. I was surely, no doubt, bewildered that a national cable channel could populate it's airwaves with his brash, and unorthodox, style of presentation of sport.

I was envious. Envious that man had found his calling at a young age and followed through with his dream, carried his passion, and delivered in an honest and dare I say authentic manner that rang true to so many, but perhaps a bit foreign to me. I turned him off at times because it wasn't what I was used to, or comfortable with.

I grew up one day, not entirely, but enough, to realize that I actually appreciated Stuart Scott. I not only appreciated him, but what he represented - Authenticity - Something I wish I could truly say I deliver today. It is so difficult to understand maturity if you are seeking it, rather, it makes itself apparent when the time presents itself. At some point you stop looking at our differences first, and start looking for our similarities instead. So much easier to find why we can descend on common ground than to battle at the differences that in most cases were not by our design. I believe I may have begun to understand our similarities over time, and allowed how dissimilar we were to become unimportant overall.

I cried today thinking of his loss. While I never knew him personally, I felt connected to him for the most unknown reasons. I respect the fact that he did not quit. I respected his professionalism. But mostly, I respect how he represented himself to the world. Well done, Mr. Scott. You leave a legacy behind that endears for the future. Rest in Peace Stuart Scott. I will miss you.