Small town life prepared Darling for CEO post
Cashmere native Hoby Darling, 37, was named in March as CEO of Skullcandy, the international headphone company based in Utah. The company had more than $300 million in net sales in 2012.
The Cashmere High School grad earned his law degree at Northwestern University in Chicago, then became general counsel for the clothing and accessory company Volcom, and then became general manager of Nike+ Digital Sport, a Nike division that makes whiz-bang gizmos like fitness monitoring wrist bands.
Darling’s mother, June Darling, credited her son’s quick rise through corporate ranks on the mentoring he received in Cashmere schools and from the town’s civic leaders.
“Small town life means we’re all aware of each other, helping each other,” she said. “Hoby, and many of his high school friends, left here with confidence to find their way in the world. Now, I think, they’re paying this forward, helping others takes risks and find success.”
First quarter home sales remain strong
Home sales here for the first quarter of 2013 rose 18 percent over last year, even though unit sales dipped slightly in March and inventory shriveled by nearly one-third.
Dollar volume of homes sold year-to-date in the Wenatchee market jumped 25 percent over the first three months of 2012 as the current average price rose 6 percent to hit $231,677. Unit sales for the first quarter hit 158 from 134 last year.
Sales totals were released April 17 by Pacific Appraisal Associates, a Wenatchee-based appraisal and consulting firm. The Wenatchee market includes Wenatchee, East Wenatchee, Malaga, Orondo and Rock Island.
The number of homes and condos on the market in March fell 30 percent to 322 from 462 in the same month last year. Homes priced $250,000 and lower continue to outsell higher-priced homes by 3 to 1 or more. Rental vacancies continued to tighten across the market in March. Condo vacancies were down 71 percent from last year, apartment vacancies down 60 percent and single-family home vacancies down 33 percent.
Sports tourism dollars surge in first quarter
Sport competitors flocked to the Wenatchee Valley during the first quarter of 2013 to push sports tourism spending here to 18.4 percent above last year, the Wenatchee Valley Sports Council announced last month.
Growth in amateur hockey tournaments, the Winter Special Olympics and ski events at Mission Ridge Ski & Board Resort fueled a spending surge totalling $2.1 million for the first three months of the year, said Matt Kearny, the council’s director of marketing.
“The obvious key component is strong out-of-area participation for multi-day events,” he said.
The Olympics, hockey and skiing all showed substantial increases in participating athletes, which can translate into a greater number of spectators, said Kearny. An AAU basketball tournament hosted here also drew more teams than in past years.
April also had a solid start, said Kearny. Several new sports events were scheduled here during the month and organizers for returning competitions anticipated increases in registration, he said.
New branding possible for Lake Chelan
New branding for Lake Chelan could be unveiled by mid-summer if a marketing project for the area is completed on schedule.
The project, designed to increase year-round business in Chelan, Manson and Stehekin, will begin with measuring awareness of the Lake Chelan area by local and Puget Sound residents, said Mike Steele, executive director of the Lake Chelan Chamber of Commerce.
It’ll end with the presentation of a “toolkit,” he said, that will include a new visual identity for the area, a style guide and new concepts for future campaigns.
Managed by the Chamber, the marketing project began March 14 and will wrap up at the end of June, said a Chamber press release. Seattle-based marketing agency PBJS was hired late last year to do the work, including market research and developing strategies to boost area business.
“We want to know how many people know about Lake Chelan and what they think about us,” said Steele. “We also want to find out how we should be talking about ourselves, both internally and externally, to increase the amount of consumers that come to the Valley to visit or move their family or business here.”
The $60,000 project is funded by visitor-generated lodging fees, Steele said, with no local tax dollars used to pay for it.
Quarantine lifted on Moses Lake dairy
The state Department of Agriculture on last month lifted the quarantine for a dairy here at the center of an investigation into a case of bovine tuberculosis.
Under quarantine since Jan. 17 for a contaminated cow, Juergens Brothers Dairy was cleared following two rounds of testing of the farm’s dairy herd that uncovered no additional cases of bovine TB.
The state imposed the quarantine when one of the dairy’s cows — sent to a stockyard — was suspected of being infected with bovine TB. That cow was later confirmed as infected.
A first round of follow-up testing at the dairy identified 11 additional cows as possibly infected, but a national laboratory confirmed last week that all those cows tested negative for bovine TB. A second round of testing agreed.
Bovine TB is contagious among cattle and can cause severe coughing, fatigue and emaciation. It has been all but eliminated in the U.S.
Manson Business Association has new board
The Manson Business Association elected a new board of directors in March to guide the group in civic and commercial projects for 2013.
Elected were Kim Ustanik of Mountain View Lodge as president, Tom Addision of Orchard Wood Ovens as vice president, Teri Craven of Wells Fargo Bank as secretary-treasurer and Jeff Conwell of Green Dot Sub Shop and Lance Farrar of Troy’s Pizza as directors.
Newly independent from the Lake Chelan Chamber of Commerce, the Manson group also completed its first tasks to get up and running, said Ustanik in a press release. Bylaws and a temporary budget were approved and new project committees formed. The group expressed support for efforts by the Manson Community Council to limit the feeding of water fowl in downtown areas and to preserve public right of ways for lake access.
The Manson association voted in February to split from the Chamber after a two-year incubation period within the larger business group. At the time, association leaders said they could do more for Manson businesses if they had control over their own marketing and promotions.
“There seems to be lots of energy and quite a positive buzz in the air here” said Ustanik in the group’s March newsletter. “It feels like it’s contagious. Manson, in the incredible Lake Chelan Valley, is a wonderful place to be.”
Fruit warehouse blooms on Baker Flats
Workers strolled past openings in pre-cast walls of McDougall & Sons’ new $7.7 million fruit warehouse now under construction on a three-acre parcel near Baker Flats, which is north of East Wenatchee.
The 146,000-square-foot warehouse is one of five new storage facilities planned or under construction in Douglas County to handle a boom in apple production partially brought about by tighter planting per acre of new varieties.
The building is expected to be completed by Sept. 1, said a spokesman for McDougall & Sons.
El Fuego, Boom Boom Room shake up local night life
A seismic shift in the city’s downtown music scene was underway in April as one popular night club closed and two more took its place — all in the same building.
“Change is good,” said Ruben Martinez, promoter for the Boom Boom Room. “Especially when it means good music, good food and good fun.”
The shake-up included:
• Closure in early April of the Volcano Club, the high-energy Latin music hotspot that’s operated downtown for five years in the basement of the former Elks Lodge at 27 N. Chelan Ave.
• The opening April 12 of the Boom Boom Room in the Elks Lodge ballroom, replacing the short-lived, upscale Van Go night club.
• And the opening April 20 of El Fuego, a Spanish-music venue with a mix of DJs and live bands, in the basement space of the former Volcano Club.
“This is a dream come true for us,” said Andrew Gonzalez, 23, co-owner of El Fuego with business partner Zoila Guerra, 23. “Even when I was a kid, I dreamed of running a music club — the best kind of club, where friends get together to celebrate and have fun.”
Gonzalez and Guerra said they grabbed the opportunity to open El Fuego when they learned Volcano Club owner Arturo Rodriguez was closing the doors. “It seemed too good to pass up, too good an opportunity to not give it all we’ve got,” said Guerra.
The business duo will operate El Fuego on Friday and Saturday nights and continue work their day jobs through the week. Gonzalez is on the maintenance staff of The Wenatchee World and is working toward a business degree at Wenatchee Valley College. Guerra is an office manager for Pipitone Farms, an organic grower in Rock Island.
The club’s grand opening included two dueling live bands, DJ music and sponsorship by Corona, which meant lots of beer-company freebies and an appearance by the Corona Girls. Subsequent weekends will feature DJ music on Friday nights and live bands every Saturday.
“We want customers to feel like they’re family,” said Guerra. “We’ll be working hard — along with all our employees — to make sure the people who come here have the best time they can in a Wenatchee club.”
In the upstairs ballroom, Boom Boom Room promoter Martinez said he and owner Cris Trujillo aim “to bring more energy to Wenatchee’s night life.”
The club will feature top names in West Coast hip-hop and classic rock, said Martinez. In April, the club featured Grammy-nominated rapper Yukmouth, a member of the platinum-selling duo Luniz. Later in the month, the Boom Boom Room featured Bay Area hip-hop star YG, who performed the 2010 hit “Toot It and Boot It’ from the Def Jam Music Group.
The Boom Boom Room will also feature a full kitchen — burgers, tacos. fried chicken and fries — and a wide assortment of beers and other beverages. Martinez said the club will have a “sports bar feel” on weekday nights.
Martinez said he and Trujillo have promoted music groups and live performers for the past few years. “We figured it’s time to stop making money for other people and do something for ourselves,” he said. “The Boom Boom Room — that’s us stepping up to a whole new level.”
Eurosports adds mountain bike sales and service
Owners of a local bicycle shop announced last month that they’ve expanded their road cycling sales and service to include suspension maintenance and repairs for mountain bikes.
Ben Hudson and Eric Redrup, co-owners of Eurosports, said the new service means mountain bikers can keep their bikes top condition without leaving the Wenatchee Valley. “Until now, the best option for a complete rebuild was to disassemble part of the bike, pack it up, ship it and wait for it to be returned,” said Hudson. Now the service is offered “right in their own backyards,” he said.
To compliment this new service, Eurosports has also added the Yeti line of mountain bikes to their inventory.
For more info, call Eurosports at 888-5336 or visit eurosportscycling.com.
Aspen Leaf is resort’s new spa
Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort has bought its on-site spa, formerly Solstice, and reopened it as the Aspen Leaf Spa.
“We’re excited to gain ownership of the spa at Sleeping Lady and introduce Aspen Leaf to our guests,” said Lori Vandenbrink, the resort’s director of sales and marketing.
The original spa was built using fair-trade, repurposed and resource-efficient materials such as zero-VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints and natural products, she said, and Aspen Leaf continues those practices. Karen Edwards, a state licensed esthetician, has been named as spa manager. Linda Marie Breiler is the spa’s lead massage practitioner.
Although the resort has always offered on-site spa services, Aspen Leaf is the first spa the mountain resort has owned and operated.
Off-leash park a treat for playful pooches
With ears pricked, Buddy sits inside the dog park’s chain-link fence to watch his canine friends trot towards the Wenatchee Valley’s only authorized venue for off-leash frolicking.
In a flash, the 2-year-old Shih Tzu is at the gate with welcoming sniffs. Buddy’s buddy, Buddy (yes, a second Buddy), and a flirtatious Daisy scoot into the 1-acre enclosure and wriggle anxiously to lose their leashes and get the party started.
“Buddy has a cat for a sister,” said Jim Chilson, Wenatchee, Buddy’s owner and chief ball tosser. “So it’s good for him to come here to socialize and exercise with doggy acquaintances. He gets tired of the cat. Wouldn’t you?”
Buddy, Daisy and Buddy are three of a dozen or so compact canines who play untethered during twice-weekly periods for small dogs at the Wenatchee Valley Off-Leash Dog Park, the fenced, members-only acre at the south end of Walla Walla Point Park.
The year-old facility has about 60 members (with dogs of all sizes) who pay $10 a month for unlimited access to the grassy, off-leash area. It’s next to the dog-friendly Wenatchee Valley Hydrant, an espresso-and-smoothie stand that also serves up doggie treats and bowls of cool, fresh water. The Hydrant’s motto: “Unleash Your Thirst.”
“I tell every dog and every person who goes through that gate to play nice,” said Darcy Stevens, 50, co-owner of The Hydrant and off-leash park. “And we have very few problems — no escapees, no big fights and hardly a bully since we’ve been open. Bullies don’t last long because the park users police themselves.”
The off-leash area sits directly behind The Hydrant, which is a long ball toss from Walla Walla Park’s southern-most picnic shelter and a short scamper from the Apple Capital Recreation Loop Trail.
Members sign an agreement to follow rules that detail unacceptable dog behavior (no unsocialized dogs), operations guidelines (keep gates closed), poop regulations (pick it up) and age restrictions (no puppies under 4 months old, no kids under 14 without an adult).
A combination lock on the outer gate gives members access to the off-leash area during Walla Walla Park’s hours of operation.
The $10 monthly fee — $3 for a day-use pass — helps pay for mowing, watering, fencing, general clean-up and administrative tasks.
Legally running a pooch off-leash is a rare privilege in the Wenatchee Valley, said Stevens, who noted that the city of Wenatchee has worked for years to open such an area but, so far, has had limited success. In January, an anonymous donor gave $10,000 to help build an off-leash facility at Lincoln Park, but only about half of the $30,000 needed to open the park has been raised. Complete build-out of the city facility could cost upwards of $100,000.
“At the moment,” Stevens said of her Walla Walla Point Park area, “this is where it’s happening.”