The Buzz


Photo by Paul Moore

Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) visited Aluminum Chambered Boats on Aug. 6 to tour the facility and go for a boat ride on Bellingham Bay in one of the company’s bowloaders. Though the bow of the boat didn’t go down as planned, Murray said she enjoyed the ride. “I wanted to stay out there longer.”

This is the senator’s first visit to to ACB. It comes on the heels of a $12.8 million contract awarded to the company in July to build 42 Bridge Erection Boats for the U.S. Marine Corps. “Senator Murray has been instrumental in keeping jobs in Washington state,” said founder/CEO Larry Weiber in a press release.



Tuxedo Garden to open new retail site

Tuxedo Garden, located at 3247 South Pass Road in Everson, is planning to open a new, 2-acre retail nursery outlet at 4481 Meridian St.

Owner Gary Pike said he would like to open the new nursery by spring of 2009, but he is still awaiting a final permit from the city. The nursery will offer the standard selection of trees and plants, but focuses on its 200 varieties of rhododendrons and more than 50 varieties of azaleas, plus a selection of bamboo gazebos.

“We’ve gradually expanded the inventory each year. Now we just need a good retail outlet,” he said.

Pike and his wife, Xiao Rong Zhang, started the nursery in Everson in 1998 and have since expanded to a small retail space on the corner of Northwest Avenue and West Connecticut Street. The lease on that space ends in December and the couple is unsure if they will renew, Pike said.

For more information, call 966-7829 or visit


Smart Growth conference set for Sept. 4

The 2008 Smart Growth for Sustainable Communities Conference will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 4, at the Bellingham Cruise Terminal.

Sustainable Connections’ Green Building & Smart Growth program is focused on finding common ground among diverse growth perspectives and forging consensus on issues related to land use policy and practice.

The event’s speakers come from all over the region and will talk about their unique experiences in sustainable and urban-infill development.

The speakers will be Gordon Harris, CEO of Simon Fraser University Community Trust, Mark Huppert, chief community development officer for The McNaughton Group, and Jeff Pavey, Cascade Agenda Program director for the Cascade Land Conservancy.

The event will also mix in updates on local initiatives and the future of Bellingham urban planning, which will blend regional perspectives with local Smart Growth applications.

For more information, call 647-7093 or visit


Unique manufacturer uses recycled fabrics

Amy’s Rag Bag, a Bellingham-based manufacturer of menstrual pads made from recycled fabrics, opened for business in May. Owner Laura Banks said most of her business is online currently but she is looking forward to building a local customer base.

Banks said she started sewing when she was 12 years old but really honed her skills while working at Caitac Manufacturing, a garment factory that used to be in the Cordata area.

Banks said the venture is young and she is still getting oriented.

“Right now it’s just me and my grandma’s old sewing machine and a lot of fabric,” Banks said.

Banks said she started making her own menstrual pads in an effort reduce waste in her own life.

“Pads are pretty small and you can use a variety of fabrics to make them,” Banks said. “So it turned out to be the perfect way to use up all the little scraps I’ve been buying at garage sales and hoarding for years.”

For more information, visit


Brooks Manufacturing planning expansion

Brooks Manufacturing is planning to build a new 16,000-square-foot storage building at their facility located at 2120 Pacific St.

The building will be used to store laminated wood that is used in some of the transmission structures the company builds for utility companies, said Dwayne Carter, president and general manager. Since it’s just for storage, the steel-frame building will not be enclosed.

“It’s just a roof with posts, nothing spectacular,” Carter said.

For more information, call 733-1700 or visit


New chiropractor opening on Bakerview

Bakerview Family Chiropractic, located at 436 W. Bakerview Road Suite 102, is planning to open Sept. 12.

Owner Dan Scodeller is a Bellingham native who moved to California several years ago to attend chiropractic school. But after practicing there for five years, he said he couldn’t wait to come back to Whatcom County.

“I’ve always wanted to practice up here. This is where I want to raise my family,” he said.

Scodeller will offer corrective chiropractic care and massage therapy in his new 1,500-square-foot office. For more information, call 734-7300.


Creative Construction goes brick and mortar

Creative Construction, a full-service general contractor that has been serving the greater Whatcom County area for the past 10 years, has opened a 200-square-foot office in the Gateway Centre Executive Suites at 1313 E. Maple St. Suite 306.

Dave Kangas, project coordinator for Creative Construction, said the company’s owner, Paul Brainard, conducted business out of his house for the past decade but is now looking to grow his business.

“I think he wanted a more professional image and it just made more sense to open an office,” Kangas said.

Kangas also said the office will help to streamline the business since all work will be funneled through the office instead of the owner’s home.

Creative Construction can take projects for initial concept design to completion and specializes in additions, remodels, tenant improvements and new construction. The company also has a subsidiary called Brush Busters, which offers brush-clearing services.

For more information, call 671-6051.


ACE E-Manifest moves

ACE E-Manifest Solutions, a company that creates manifests for cross-border trucking, has moved its office to Blaine to be closer to the Canadian border. The company creates electronic manifests, which are electronic documents that tell border officials what a truck is carrying and where the shipments are going.

Owner Ryan Mitchell said he moved the company from its 900-square-foot office at 1321 King St. Suite 1 to a 400-square-foot office space in Mitchell’s new home near the border in an effort to more efficiently manage his business.

“Now I am more able to talk to customs officials,” Mitchell said. “They like knowing that I am nearby.”

For more information, call 738-2221 or visit


Investigator spoke to local investors

Nationally recognized investigator Al Schweitzer spoke to the Bellingham Real Estate Investors Network on Wednesday, Aug. 27, about gathering information related to judgments, potential tenants and impending foreclosures. The event is open to the public.

Schweitzer gave tips to investors on how to conduct background checks on potential tenants and business partners, how to conduct quality market research, how to locate owners of abandoned property, and how to use judgments to reduce the price of property.

Schweitzer has also made numerous television appearances including “Nightline,” “20/20,” “48 Hours” and “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”

For more information, call Dan O’Donnell at 671-2561.


Chamber seeking award nominations

The Bellingham/Whatcom Chamber of Commerce & Industry is seeking nominees for its annual awards: small business of the year, large business of the year, nonprofit of the year, and green business of the year.

“There are so many deserving companies in our county, voting for the companies will be difficult,” said Ken Oplinger, president and CEO of the Chamber.

The award winners will be announced at the 4th Annual Awards Banquet on Dec. 8.

Nomination forms can be found online at All nominations must be received by Sept. 12.

For more information, call 734-1330.


Pivot Lab moving to Fairhaven

Pivot Lab, currently located in the Ohio Street Workstudios, is planning to move to 1200 Old Fairhaven Parkway Suite 301 by November.

The business strategy and graphic design firm will gain about 300 square feet by moving to the 1,100-square-foot space, said owner Matt Barnhart. Plus, the shell space is being built to suit the company’s needs, from video conferencing to offices.

“Right now we have two spaces that aren’t connected and it’s getting too disjointed,” said owner Matt Barnhart. “Now our conference room will be in our office.”

Pivot Lab has been in business for 12 years and has offices in Bellingham and Seattle. For more information, call 733-1692 or visit


New business focuses on fun

HAMFLAP, which stands for Have As Much Fun & Laughter As Possible, will be introduced to the public during the 2010 Service Initiative networking luncheon Wed. Aug. 20.

The company, a subsidiary of Evergreen Team Concepts located at 3600 Meridian St., aims to bring the benefits of fun and laughter into the workplace by offering on-site workshops and online community involvement. It also designs and distributes games, puzzles, activities and toys that facilitate team building and employee appreciation.

“Happy employees are motivated and productive team members,” said Mike Ridpath, senior manager of products and services of Evergreen Team Concepts. “You find companies that have found ways to make their workplace more enjoyable often have happier, healthier and more productive employees. As a result, morale, participation and retention will increase.”

For more information, call (360) 647-6922 or visit


New espresso stand zooms into Lincoln Street location

Zoom Zoom Espresso is now open in the former Coffee Hound location at 845 Lincoln St..

Shelly Ness, the drive-up coffee stand and café’s new owner, has worked in the coffee business for around 20 years, spending seven years with Starbucks, three years as franchise director for Cruisin Coffee, and most recently as owner of I Wana Moka’s two locations for the past 10 years.

“I just really like coffee,” Ness said.

Ness said business differences with her partners led her to leave I Wana Moka, but she left with a desire to continue in the coffee business with a simplified format. The new business has only one location and six employees.

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

For more information, call 752-2336.


The Bank of the Pacific opening in RE/MAX

The Bank of the Pacific opened a new loan office Aug. 12 at the RE/MAX office located at 913 Lakeway Dr. Suite 201.

RE/MAX recently designated The Bank of the Pacific as a preferred lender and this shared location will allow the two companies to work closer together and offer “one-stop shopping” for clients. The office houses four loan officers who serve the Lakeway, Sudden Valley and Point Roberts RE/MAX locations.

For more information, call The Bank of the Pacific at 647-6000 or call RE/MAX at 641-1313.


Sehome Food opening mid-September

Sehome Food, a new specialty convenience store located at 1240 E. Maple St. Suite 104, is set to open by mid-September.

The 1,000-square-foot space will offer basic staples such as milk and bread, but will also have a selection of hard-to-find oriental food, said manager Don Kramer. From frozen fish to fresh vegetables, the store will carry items that are popular in Korean, Japanese and Chinese food.

“A lot of times we have to drive to Seattle to find these items in specialty stores,” Kramer said.

The business is owned by Mr. Jung Choi and the space was formerly his wife’s hair salon, Studio 225. The salon moved upstairs in the same building in February.

For more information, call 738-4830.


Cascara Center now open on Dupont

A new mental health center opened Sept. 1.

Cascara Center, located at 700 Dupont St., offers outpatient therapy and mental health assessments for children and teens.

Co-owner Michaela Petz said she and psychologist Dr. Anne Wright teamed up to open the clinic with the intent of specializing in child mental health. They will not offer adult care, but parenting support will be available for the parents of patients.

“We both have a passion for working with children,” said Petz, who was previously a counselor for Catholic Community Services. “I have been working with children and teenagers for years and I’m really interested in helping kids make changes in their life.”

Petz said they chose the name Cascara because it is a native plant to the Pacific Northwest and it signifies continual growth.

For more information, call 647-8011.


Kimbler Financial opens on Kellogg

Husband and wife team David and Kay Kimbler have started a new financial services company, Kimbler Financial, in a 1,000-square-foot office at 121 W. Kellogg St. in the Blossom Commons.

David is formerly the chief financial officer and co-president of Kimbler & Thomas Financial Group and has been in the insurance industry for 33 years.

The new company will offer financial risk analysis, estate planning, wealth transfers, investment strategies, all lines of insurance coverage and reverse mortgages.

For more information, call 312-5104.


Yary Photography to change name

Yary Photography, located at 1210 Bay St. Suite 102, is planning to change its name to Artiem Photography, a division of R.T.M. Photography Inc., this coming fall.

The studio first opened in Bellingham in March 2003 and focused mainly on sports photography. Over the years, though, the clientele has shifted more toward wedding and portrait photography. Thus, owner Radley Muller decided it was time to change the studio’s name to reflect that.

“Our first year in business we photographed 19 weddings, then the very next year we photographed 40 weddings, and the year after that – it was 80 weddings,” Muller said in a press release. “It seemed obvious to us that our biggest growth area is focusing on our wedding clients and the family portrait business.”

For more information, call 676-9279.


Professional Hearing Services opens

A new hearing clinic opened its doors in July.

Professional Hearing Services, located at 520 Birchwood Ave. Suite A, opened its 1,100-square-foot clinic July 7. The clinic offers hearing tests and fits hearing aids.

Co-owner Brenda Litke decided to start the business after managing the hearing clinic at Costco in Burlington. After being with the company for 17 years, Litke said she felt it was time to branch out on her own.

“I was seeing so many people every day,” she said, adding that she became burned out with the work load. Now Litke said she has more time to spend with clients and can operate the business at her own pace.

For more information, call 715-1222.


Coda Musical Instruments closes store

Coda Musical Instruments, located at 1200 Harris Ave. Suite 104, closed its doors in August, but the business will stay alive on the Internet.

Owner Jeremy Larsen said he closed the shop after opening it more than a year ago due to too many costs and not enough sales. But he said he will continue to sell guitars, basses, amplifiers and music books from his Web site

“I’m keeping the brain of the business alive but the body is dying,” he said, referring to the store closure.

For more information, call 714-8303.


Community Boating Center adds storage

The Bellingham Bay Community Boating Center, located at 501 Harris Ave., is planning to expand its covered storage for kayaks.

The new storage area would allow for up to 60 boats, more than double the current capacity, said director Michael Callaizakis. The center currently has a waiting list for kayak storage space and the new racks will solve that problem, he said.

For more information, call 714-8891 or visit


Razz Construction building new office

Razz Construction, located at 4055 Hammer Drive, is planning to build two 6,000-square-foot buildings on its Irongate site, one to house its own operations and one for lease or purchase.

The building will be the company’s first brick-and-mortar office space since opening in May 2005. Half of the space will be offices and half will be warehouse space.

The business has been operating out of construction trailers on the site and the new space will allow it to expand, said office manager Cecelia Guadalupe.

Razz Construction does civil construction and employs more than 30 people. For more information, call 752-0011 or visit


Mt. Baker Roofing renovating offices

Mt. Baker Roofing, located at 3950 Home Road, is planning to renovate its office space and expand its showroom.

The new showroom will be approximately 300 square feet and will allow the company to display more of the roofing products it offers, said President Dana Johnson.

The renovation isn’t major, he said, but it is the first time the business has renovated the 1,500-square-foot space, which used to be an old radio station.

Mt. Baker Roofing has been in business for 20 years and does mostly residential and new construction roofing. For more information, call 733-0191.


Interior designer opens Lisa Spencer Interiors

Lisa Spencer, a Whatcom County interior designer, recently opened Lisa Spencer Interiors.

Spencer has been an owner and co-owner of an interior design business in Whatcom County for 12 years. She also worked as a managing senior designer for a firm in Carmel, Calif. and as the primary designer and coordinator for The Pebble Beach Company Resort and Golf Course.

Spencer’s services include specifying interior and exterior paint formulated for a specific location’s light and aesthetics, design coordination, planning, budgeting, purchasing and installation.

“My focus is on designing interiors that are beautiful, natural and life-enhancing for how people really live,” Spencer said in a press release.

For more information, call 778-1220 or visit


Taco truck to open restaurant

El Salvadareño Super Mario’s, a taco truck located downtown at the corner of North Forest and East Champion streets, has found a new location for its future restaurant.

The business had originally been eyeing a drive-through location at 1115 Iowa St., but those plans fell through, said employee Frances Nolasco, whose brother Mario Nolasco owns the business. Instead, they are planning to open at 3008 Northwest Ave., in the business park across from Yeager’s Sporting Goods.

“We’ve looked at a lot of places,” Nolasco said. “But we are confident that our clientele are willing to follow us wherever we open.”

The restaurant will have seating for about 30 people and will have an expanded Salvadorian menu from what is offered at the taco truck. No opening date has been set, Nolasco said, because they are doing all the remodeling and are unsure how long it will take.

For more information, call 920-9934.


Port, Western move forward with development entity

The Port of Bellingham and Western Washington University have worked for years to bring Western to Bellingham’s waterfront.

On Aug. 19, the port’s board of commissioners approved a motion for the port to move forward in creating a special development entity that would be charged with executing this project.

“I believe this is an essential first step toward Western bringing its programs to the waterfront,” said Doug Smith, president of the board of commissioners, in a press release. “The university will be an excellent anchor tenant and will attract additional private development that will move this project forward.” 

The board approval authorizes the port and university to enter into an Interlocal Agreement to create this new organization.  In future meetings both boards will be asked to approve an annual operating budget, bylaws and development concepts.

“Western is very proud to be part of the historic revitalization of Bellingham’s waterfront, which will provide economic and many other benefits to the community and to the state,” said Western President Karen W. Morse in a press release. “Approval of the development entity provides an important mechanism for Western’s move to The Waterfront District.”

Details such as the final budget for the development organization and its bylaws still are being determined. The board of directors for it would consist of the university president, the port executive director, a port commissioner, a university trustee and one additional person chosen by the board. It is anticipated that the entity would be formed and the board established in 2008.


State Farm donates $4,500 to WWU’s Woodring college

Western Washington University has been awarded a $4,500 grant by State Farm for the Future Teachers of Color Promise Scholarship program at Woodring College of Education.

The grant is the third from State Farm’s Good Neighbor Citizenship philanthropy program to support a total of eight Promise Scholarships from State Farm since 2006.

Bellingham State Farm agent Jim Harber worked with the company to secure the grants. Harber is a member of Woodring’s Community Leadership Advisory Council, whose mission is to create a collaborative network through which members of the community and Woodring faculty, staff, and students engage in partnership activities to support children and families.

“State Farm is very supportive of efforts that provide students the opportunity to reach their greatest potential, and Promise Scholarships are designed to do just that,” Harber said in a press release.  

Woodring’s Promise Scholarship program supports students just prior to entering Woodring and may be renewed for their first year in the teacher preparation program.  To date, $70,500 from various private funding sources, in collaboration with the Western Washington University Foundation, has been awarded to 28 students.


Three businesses share space in Sycamore Square

Lifespeak, a communication skills training company located inside Sycamore Square at 1200 Harris Ave. Suite 306, has recently been joined by two other small business: Flowing Hands Massage, owned by Scott Martinez, and Heart Centered Holistic Counseling, owned by Ronald Lopes.

Yarrow Pospisil, owner of Lifespeak, said the businesses got together and found that their schedules and values were in line with one another.

“We are all interested in respecting the whole person and like treating people with the holistic mindset in our practices,” Pospisil said.

The businesses will share a small space but they are each in only a couple days a week; so it all works out, Pospisil said.

“One person comes in mainly on the weekends because he has another job and is just getting his practice started and the other comes in on the days I am not here,” Pospisil said.

Lifespeak does communication skills training one-on-one, with couples, or in training sessions for businesses. Pospisil also works in conflict resolution and speech pathology.

For more information, call 676-8099.

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