The Buzz


Bellingham one of EPA’s Green Partners of the year

The City of Bellingham has been recognized as one of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Partners of the year.

The EPA recently recognized 17 leading organizations that are taking voluntary steps to address climate change by purchasing green power and helping advance the development of the nation’s green power market at its seventh annual Green Power Leadership Awards.

“America is shifting to a ‘green culture,’ with more and more businesses understanding that environmental responsibility is everyone’s responsibility,” said Marcus Peacock, EPA’s deputy administrator. “EPA commends the Green Power Leadership Award winners for making a long-term commitment to protecting the environment by purchasing green power.”

In addition to Bellingham, other Green Power Partners include Johnson & Johnson, Mohawk Fine Papers, PepsiCo, Staples, Wells Fargo & Company and Whole Foods Market.

Green power is generated from renewable resources such as solar, wind, geothermal, biogas, biomass and low-impact hydro power. Green power sources produce electricity with an environmental profile superior to conventional power technologies and produce no human-caused greenhouse gas emissions.

The EPA co-sponsors the Green Power Leadership Awards in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Energy and the Center for Resource Solutions.

In other “green” news, Whatcom Educational Credit Union (WECU) has met the gold standard in sustainable design for its new Business and Home Loan Center at the corner of Holly and High streets.

Designed by Zervas Group Architects, the 9,000-square-foot building, which occupies a formerly contaminated site, became the county’s first LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold building in September. Only 20 other projects in Washington meet the LEED guidelines for achieving gold certification.

“We’ve set the bar for sustainable design in Whatcom County, and I hope the industry accepts the challenge and ultimately beats us,” said Zervas Group Principal Mike Smith.

The building’s design cuts water use to half the national standard and cuts energy consumption by 45 percent.


Pro CNC named in top 100 fastest growing companies

For the fourth year in a row, a local machine shop made the Puget Sound Business Journal’s annual list of the 100 fastest-growing private companies in the region.

Pro CNC, which manufactures parts for the aerospace, medical, and telecommunications industries, was ranked 50th and is one of just two businesses in Whatcom County to make the list. (Logos Bible Software ranked 95 on the list.) According to the list, Pro CNC’s revenue increased 134 percent from 2004 to 2006.

Since opening in 1997, Pro CNC has made the list five times, a feat accomplished by only four other companies. “I’m particularly proud to be on that list,” said Paul Van Metre, vice president of sales and marketing.

Van Metre attributes the company’s success to their relentless pursuit of customer satisfaction.

Such rapid growth has not been easy. The company started with a staff of six and now has about 45 employees and is planning to acquire an additional 4,000 square feet next to their current location at 445 Sequoia Dr. Suite 113, Van Metre said.

In order to better manage their growth, the company has been aggressively pursuing lean manufacturing practices for several years and also developed their own shop management software to help keep track of everything from shipping to machine maintenance, Van Metre said.

For more information, call 714-9000 or visit


Sirena Gelato opens mall location

Sirena Gelato, local producers of the cold and creamy Italian confection gelato, opened a new location Oct. 10 in the Bellis Fair Mall food court.

Sirena Gelato first opened in Fairhaven in 2005 and opened a second store in Barkley village soon after. With this third location, manager Brian Ugurlu said he hopes to capitalize on the constant foot traffic in the mall and from the movie theater.

“When it’s raining, no one wants to walk around Fairhaven,” Ugurlu said.

The new store is open longer — 10:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. daily — than the other two stores. It offers all the same hand-crafted gelato flavors and treats as the other stores.

In order to keep up with demand, the company now makes its daily batch of gelato in a small factory downtown and then distributes it to the three locations. (They used to make it in the back of the Fairhaven store.) Ugurlu estimates that they make over 100 liters each day.

For more information, call 738-4895.


Building Industry Association boosts membership

A two-day membership drive conducted by the Building Industry Association of Whatcom County (BIAWC) on Oct. 24 and 25 reached its goal of 103 new members.

The BIAWC drive was part of a statewide campaign by all Building Industry Association of Washington affiliates. Nearly 50 BIAWC members and staff participated in the recordsetting event.

BIAWC came in second in the campaign on a per-capita basis, behind the North Peninsula Home Builders Association headquartered in Port Angeles, with a final count of 75 new members.

Membership gives businesses that join at the local level a three-tiered membership — in their local association, in the Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW), and in the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). New members may qualify for a variety of benefits and services, such as group-rate health care and workers compensation premiums, depending on their membership category, type of business, and number of employees.

With the new members, BIAWC’s membership totals more than 620 companies comprising more than 10,000 business owners and employees in, or associated with, the home building and construction industry. Member companies range from single person individual craft and professional businesses to major building, banking, professional, trade, supply and retail firms.

For more information, call executive officer Bill Quehrn at 671-4247.


Pacific Park condos under construction

Several new industrial condo projects in the county are symbolic of a growing trend, according to a local real estate agent.

A 20,000-square-foot industrial condo project in Ferndale, called Pacific Park Properties Industrial Condominiums, is expected to be completed by December.

The project is being developed by Emerald Builders and includes 10 showroom-merchant condominiums in Ferndale’s Pacific Industrial Park on Pacific Place. The site is just north of Wilson Furniture, said the project’s real estate agent, Richard Eggemeyer.

The industrial condo concept has recently become a trend because of the increasing cost of land and development, he said. Because it’s so expensive to build, and therefore to purchase, standalone units, the condo idea is more affordable for both developers and buyers.

“By building larger, you can achieve the economics of scale and pass that on in a per unit basis,” he said.

Eggemeyer also represents the Wri-Con Inudstrial Condominiums in the Irongate area at 4054 and 4058 Hammer Drive. The project includes nine industrial condo-warehouse units developed by Corbit Wright. Construction on that project was completed this month, Eggemeyer said.

For more information, call Eggemeyer at 201-2486.


Port approves new tenant for Bellingham Cruise Terminal

A new restaurant and cafe plans to open in the Bellingham Cruise Terminal by late November.

On Oct. 16, the Port of Bellingham agreed to lease the space to Tera and Ryan Lorimer to open Sorella’s, which means “sisters” in Italian. The Lorimers are partnering with Tera’s sister, Nichole Ehman, who is a 50 percent partner and the head chef.

The restaurant will be open seven days a week, from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and plans to offer breakfast and lunch options such as crepes, paninis and fish and chips.

“We’ll change our hours in May to accommodate the increased ferry traffic,” Tera said, indicating that Sorella’s will stay open until 6 p.m. on sailing days and during the peak traveling season in the spring.

The business has also applied for a liquor license, Tera said, in hopes of adding beer and wine to the menu.

For more information, call 201-6183.


Saturna Capital surpasses $1 billion in assets

Saturna Capital Corporation, a local investment advising company, reached a company milestone during the third quarter of this year: they are now managing $1 billion in assets.

At the quarter’s end, Saturna’s flagship mutual funds, Amana Growth and Amana Income, were valued at $612 million and $284 million, respectively. Saturna’s Sextant Mutual Fund family reached $38 million and the Idaho Tax-Exempt Fund topped $9 million. Privately managed accounts represent the balance.

“The performance of our funds speaks for itself,” said president Nicholas Kaiser in a press release. “So new investors keep coming.”

Saturna Capital was established in Bellingham in 1989 and has over 30,000 fund shareowners. For more information, call 594-9900.


Trillium Corp. alums start new company

Former Trillium Corp. project managers Mauri Ingram and Blair Murray have started their own consulting and development company called thinkwell development.

The company consults with real estate developers and for-profit and nonprofit businesses on how to incorporate a triple bottom line approach to their practices. The triple bottom line concept encourages companies and organizations to consider their effect on communities and the environment, in addition to profit.

Ingram and Murray formed the business in September and will consult with other companies as well as pursue their own development projects in the future, Ingram said.

For more information call 739-8039, or e-mail Ingram at


Nostalgia opens in the Young Building

Nostalgia, a vintage clothing shop, recently opened in the Fairhaven’s new Young Building, which is connected to the Waldron Building.

The shop features original clothing from 1930 to 1970, as well as vintage-inspired new clothing.

Owner Lynn Loewen said the style trends are moving away from mass-produced clothing.

“Fashionable women want to have a unique look that belongs just to them,” she said. “It feels good to be noticed and remembered for wearing something fabulous no one else has.”

Loewen, who spent the past eight months scouring flea markets, estate sales, and thrift stores, has found everything from vintage Gucci, to Kate Spade, Diane Von Furstenburg and other designer clothing, as well as lesser-known fashionable labels. The store will offer vintage cocktail dresses, antique jewelry, accessories, shoes, themed party-wear, jeans, and new vintage-style T-shirts in various styles and colors.

A grand opening party is scheduled for the weekend of November 16, at 1323 11th Street. For information, call 733-5821.


American Family Insurance to open in December

American Family Insurance, a multi-line insurance company and the third-largest property-casualty insurer in the nation, will be opening an office in Bakerview Square at 424 W. Bakerview Road, Suite 110, this December.

“We spent a lot of time looking, and Bakerview Square really had all of the specifications we were looking for,” said owner Trevor Holman.

Based in Madison, Wis., American Family is a Fortune 300 company located in 18 states. The company offers a wide range of insurance products and services including auto, home, life, and commercial lines of insurance. The Bakerview Square location will be the company’s first Whatcom county location.

“I am extremely excited to have the opportunity to help the people in Whatcom County protect themselves from financially devastating events,” Holman said. “Insurance is, at times, a little confusing and it is my goal to be the person that people come to for advice and counsel.”

For more information about American Family, visit or e-mail Holman at, or call 527-1100.

Bakerview Square is currently leasing phase II of the shopping center for occupancy. For more information, contact Kurt Swanson or Joshua Parriera at 303-6637.


Tech One Electronics plans for new building

Tech One Electronics, a stereo and electronics repair company located at 3206 Orleans St. near Sunset Square, applied for a permit on Oct. 9 to tear down their existing structure and build a $175,000 building.

“The old building is OK,” said owner Phuong Le, “but it will be nice to have a new, good-looking commercial building.”

Tech One Electronics will be just one of the tenants in the new building. There will be room for two other store front businesses, which Le said he hopes to lease to other retail or small service businesses.

For more information, call 715-9023.


Reset Games to open in November

After Kathy Varner, Hugh Wiebe and Dennis Hill got tired of spending $50 for each new video game for their children, they decided to open their own store selling used games.

Reset Games will open in the Barkley Crossroads shopping center at 1255 Barkley Boulevard in November, Varner said. The store will sell used video games for systems like Xbox 360; Nintendo Wii, DS and Game Boy; and PlayStation 3.

The store will have a fun, family friendly environment by offering a parent’s corner with a flat-screen TV and eight game stations for kids to try out games.

Varner, who is also a founder of accounting firm Varner Sytsma & Herndon, said she and her partners would like to quickly expand the idea and open other stores.

Hill is a real estate agent at Windermere and Wiebe is an entrepreneur, Varner said.

The store will also have an online sales component. For more information, call 714-8424.


Milne’s says goodbye for good

After 55 years in business, Milne’s Downtown Automotive Repair closed on Oct. 25.

Owner Theo Milne said she and her husband, Larry Milne, decided not to sell the business, but are in the process of selling or leasing the land and the building located at 1814 Ellis St.

Theo and Larry operated the shop for 10 years on Ellis Street. Before then, it had been located on the corner of Holly and Garden streets, where the Shell Station is now located. Larry’s father, Clarence Milne, started the business there in 1952.

The shop specialized in automotive preventative maintenance, and Theo said she is referring all her customers to Bellingham Automotive.

Theo is going back to school to become a teacher, she said.

For more information, e-mail her at


East West Fashion closing soon

East West Fashion, a clothing store that specializes in belly dancing and Indian apparel, will be closing its doors after a year and a half of business in Bellingham.

Owner Paula Sohal said she is closing the family business because her doctor said she should not work due to complications with her pregnancy. Sohal is five months pregnant with her third child.

Everything in the store is 50 percent off and the space, located in Fairhaven at 1132 Finnegan Way, is up for lease, Sohal said.

“We’ve made a lot of friends [through the store],” Sohal said. “When things get better we will open up again.”

For more information, call 733-1279.


Jogo to open on Ohio in November

Jogo, a personal and group training fitness studio, is slated to open in mid-November at 122 Ohio St., Suite 102, near Evergreen Automotive.

The concept of the gym is based on functional training, said owner Emilie Hester. The gym focuses on exercise through movement instead of machines. She described Jogo as a place that will remind people of a big playground from their childhood, with ropes, pull-up bars and kettle balls.

She and her co-owner, Lindsey Dion, developed the idea from their backgrounds in sports and fitness.

Originally from southern Indiana, Hester has worked in gyms in Nashville and at the Institute of Human Performance in Boca Raton, Fla. She moved to Bellingham because she is an avid mountain biker and snowboarder, she said.

Dion has worked as an assistant coach for Division 1 women’s basketball.

Classes will include one-on-one training, small group training, CrossFit clases, a 60-day body-health transformation program, team classes for groups and businesses, and after-school youth programs.

The gym will host a grand opening on Nov. 17. For more information, call 733-5587, or visit


Ooh la la opens in Finnegan’s Alley

Finding a perfect dress for that special holiday gathering just got easier.

Ooh la la, which focuses on special occasion dresses, opened its doors on Oct. 18, amid the last-minute rush before high school homecoming dances.

Owners Jessica Nelson and Toni Cross decided to open their own store after they met working retail at the mall. They now have a 1,200-square-foot shop in Finnegan’s Alley, 1106 Harris Ave.

Besides carrying a range of prom and cocktail dresses, they also sell accessories and custom jewelry from local designer Heidi Hull. Dress prices range from $70 to $300.

For more information, call 922-0815 or visit


Ruff Day Doggie Daycare under new ownership

Ruff Day Doggie Daycare has new owners.

Sally and Larry Lewis took over the business from Matthew and Alieca Prendergast this month. Matthew said he and his wife decided to sell the daycare so they could focus on their children and Alieca’s other job. The Prendergasts opened Ruff Day in June 2006 at 2123 Lincoln St.

Sally Lewis, who has worked in the dental field for 20 years, said she wanted to try something different.

“We love dogs, and have three of our own and we’re ready to do something different,” she said.

The Lewis’s will add a Web camera to the daycare so clients can view their pets online. They might also add more grooming services and dog-walking options, she said. For more information, call 527-0682 or visit


Eva Salon doubles its space and services

Eva Salon is planning to expand its current location at 1201 Cornwall Ave., Suite 101.

The salon will take over a neighboring 600-square-foot space and incorporate it into its current 650-square-foot floor plan, effectively doubling its size, said owner Dyan Liden.

“I’ll have more space to offer a larger inventory and more services,” Liden said. The salon currently offers hair styling, facials, manicures and massages.

This will be the third time Eva Salon has expanded. The business started 10 years ago in a tiny space on Holly and Prospect Streets. This expansion is necessary to meet a growing number of customers, Liden said.

For more information, call 738-7660.


New shoe store opening on West Bakerview

A new retail shoe store named Classics is going in at 424 W. Bakerview Road, Suite 103.

Owner Masimba Dzwowa said he expects to open on Oct. 29 if the retail renovations currently under way are done in time. The store has agreements to sell brands such as Puma and Reebok and will have one employee.

The company is currently constructing a Web site,, Dzwowa said.


Visual Studios moves two floors up

Visual Studios, a branding and communication design firm, has relocated to the fourth floor of Fairhaven’s Sycamore Square building on the corner of Harris Avenue and 12th Street.

The business had outgrown its previous space on the second floor of the building, and will possibly add another employee, owner Nate Marohn said.

“The new office will give us continued opportunity for growth,” he said.

Visual Studios provides graphic, Web site design, and branding services for businesses of all sizes. For more information, visit or call 752-2535.


Blue Skies for Children moves to State Street

Blue Skies for Children has moved from 13 Prospect St., where it was located for eight years, to 1901 N. State St., Suite B, in the Allstate building.

Executive director Julie Guay said the move from a 5,000-square-foot space to a less than 1,000-square-foot office reflected a change in the nonprofit’s business model. Blue Sky used to take in and store clothing and school supplies for homeless, low-income and foster children aged 6 to 15, but the organization maxed out its capacity at the old space.

Instead, Blue Skies has begun a voucher program for its clientele to use at local clothing stores such as Fred Meyer, Wal-Mart and Target. Guay said she is still looking for partnerships among other retail clothing stores, as well.

For more information, call 756-6710.


J&J Needle Art moves to Bakerview Square

J&J Needle Art, a local knitting and needle supply store, moved into its new location Oct. 25 in Bakerview Square.

Owner Jeaninne Kahan said she likes the new store because it is surrounded by a good mix of local businesses, which she hopes will draw in more customers.

The store reopened for business on Nov. 1, after the move was completed.

J&J first opened in Bellingham in 1990. In 1994, the business moved to a location near Costco where it has been for the last 13 years.

For more information, call 676-9090.

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