Business Births, November 2008


Car Audio Plus

Owners: Paul and Todd Luzius

Address: 1204 E. Sunset Drive

Phone: 734-2910

Startup date: June 1

Square footage: 3,000

Web site:


Paul Luzius (left) stands in front of the newly redesigned Jalapeño’s delivery van with restaurant owner Jesse Cantu. The old graphics on the van were faded and falling off, Cantu said. “Now it looks like a brand new van,” he said. Vehicle graphics is just one of the many services offered at Car Audio Plus.

Paul Luzius technically retired 12 years ago, but he still works just as hard. Only now he is in business with his son Todd and gets to do business his own way.

The father-son duo first launched Car Audio Plus 10 years ago in Bend, Ore. Paul came from a career as the marketing director of the plastics division of Bethlehem Steel, a job that took him all over the world. And Todd came in with years of audio engineering experience after managing the Car Toys branch in Portland, Ore.

Together, they offer a wide range of services, from intricate sound systems to electronic gadgets to vehicle graphics and wraps.

“We just do our own things,” Paul said. “Todd knows how to engineer all the audio. He’s great. Graphics and designs — that’s my specialty.”

Since moving to Bellingham earlier this year, the business has expanded to offer custom detailing and is looking at window tinting as well, Paul said. Expansion was one reason for relocating to Bellingham, but the main benefit was to be closer to the company’s suppliers.

“We sold everything in Bend because our suppliers are up here,” Paul said. After visiting Bellingham and examining the market, the family decided to make the move. “We decided that after 10 years (in Oregon) we wanted to try something new.”

All of the audio installation and graphics work takes place in a large auto bay, which can hold up to six cars, that used to house Sunset Car Wash. The car wash is still in the building, but does not need the extra space since it upgraded to newer, smaller equipment this year.

Looking inside the bay is like peeking behind the scenes of an upcoming car show. Newer vehicles with all the bells and whistles are parked right beside classic convertibles and roadsters. And all of them are getting new car audio, plus a little bit more.

— Isaac Bonnell



Cascara Center

Owners: Michaela Petz and Dr. Anne Wright

Address: 700 Dupont St.

Phone: 647-8011

Startup date: Sept. 1

Square footage: 1,200


Michaela Petz (right) and Dr. Anne Wright opened the Cascara Center to counsel local youth and their families.


The Cascara, with small hidden flowers and purplish-black berries, is a plant native to the Pacific Northwest that signifies continual growth. To licensed counselor Michaela Petz, the plant reminds her of her work with children, and it seemed an apt name for her new youth counseling center.

With a growing passion for working with youth and aiding their mental development in a healthy environment, Petz and licensed psychologist Dr. Anne Wright created the Cascara Center. The center aims to be a unique service for the community and part of the growing process of youth. It is the only local mental health center that offers services and mental assessments exclusively for children.

Petz and Wright founded the center together when discussing the needs in the community and how they could connect with community residents.

“Our vision is that we’ll continue to grow into a diverse group of mental health professionals and collaborate together in the support of children,” Petz said. “We both have a passion for working with children. That’s why we are unique, because we only focus on kids.”

Petz and Wright both have a background in youth counseling. Petz worked as a counselor for Catholic Community Services, and Wright has been working in mental health for the past eight years. The co-owners each bring four years of experience in Bellingham to their new business.

Petz said her specialty lies in working with traumatized children, such as children who have been sexually abused. Wright focuses on psycho-educational evaluations and development and can test for learning, memory or attention problems in youth. At the center the two also work with Barbara Overson, who has training in the psycho-educational areas and an interest in biofeedback as well as helping children understand the development of their bodies, Petz said.

The Cascara Center offers counseling for the individual child, from ages 3 to 18, or for the whole family, dealing with behavioral problems such as anxiety, depression and adjustments while providing therapy, assessments, behavioral strategies and modification. The counselors use techniques such as play therapy, in which toys are offered to children to play with to help them express themselves more freely.

Petz said it’s hard to set a goal for mental health, though the center wants to be a helpful resource for children and their families. She believes behavioral problems can be addressed before they become a noticeable concern if parents are sensitive to how situations in the home affect their kids, Petz said.

“Even if it seems to just be a parent issue, it does affect the kids,” Petz said. “Parents tend to not seek help until there is a problem and the behaviors have become a concern.”

To help parents deal with their children’s mental health needs, the Cascara Center provides parenting strategies and coping techniques. Petz said she and Wright would like to expand their resources and create support groups for parents sometime in the future.

She feels the most rewarding part of her practice is seeing the progress and the will to improve in both children and their families.

“I think kids are very resilient no matter what they face and it’s very inspiring,” she said. “They have the hope and drive to want to change, and it’s fun to be a part of that process and the families see the progress from what they are doing. I don’t have a magic wand to cure all this stuff; it’s the families that want to change.”

— Sarah Gordon



Zoom Zoom Espresso

Owners: Shelly Ness and Sharee Bell

Address: 845 Lincoln St.

Startup date: July 10

Square footage: 800

Phone: 752-2336


Zoom Zoom Espresso’s Shelly Ness and Sharee Bell toast to their success in front of a custom mural by Ben Mann.


A new drive-through coffee stand and café has screeched onto the Bellingham java scene.

Shelly Ness and Sharee Bell, who worked together for years at Bellingham-based I Wana Moka, recently teamed up to bring their own unique flare to the morning buzz biz.

Zoom Zoom Espresso recently opened for business in the old Coffee Hound location along Lincoln Street across from the Lincoln Creek Park and Ride.

Ness is no stranger to the coffee business, however. She has worked in the industry for about 20 years, clocking seven years with Starbucks, three years as a franchise director for Cruisin Coffee and 10 years as co-owner of I Wana Moka.

“I just really like coffee,” Ness said.

Bell said she moved to Bellingham in 1999 to go to Western Washington University and worked for several coffee shops until 2001.

“I found Shelly after two years,” Bell said. “After a while, we started talking about doing something on our own.”

Ness said Zoom Zoom’s single location and six employees are a step down from the larger operations she has run before, but that is part of its appeal.

“I really wanted to try something new,” Ness said.

One of Ness and Bell’s favorite parts of Zoom Zoom is the bistro, where customers can come sit down to eat or leisurely enjoy their beverage of choice.

The bistro dining area is alive with bold color. Bright reds and soothing yellows create a fun and inviting space.

“I really like the social aspect of it,” Ness said. “The people that come in are really nice.”

Being located right across the street from Western Washington University’s Lincoln Creek Park and Ride makes Zoom Zoom an ideal spot for students to get their morning fix before jetting off to catch the bus. The coffee stand will also offer student discounts to anyone with a student ID and boasts lightning-fast Internet for any last minute cramming.

Ness and Bell are also proud of their food and beverage selection. On the beverage side, Zoom Zoom offers hot and cold coffee drinks along with a variety of blended shakes, smoothies and teas.

For the rumbling tummy, Zoom Zoom is cooking up breakfast burritos, bagels, quesadilla-style melts called grillers, and pastries, but Ness and Bell also strive to offer healthy options, such as health bars and fruit.

“We want moms to have convenient, healthy options when they are in a hurry in the morning instead of just getting a sandwich from McDonald’s,” Ness said.

— Lance Henderson

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