2014 Prosper Awards

Ingenuity Award
This family-owned company has been a renowned leader in the trucking industry for years and began its business journey in 1980. More recently this recognizable company has grown leaps and bounds, even through some lean years, beyond their original product lines into a different industry. But staying lean and innovative is exactly what has kept them going strong. Not only is this company strong in its reputation for quality and service, but strong on great ideas. The kind of great thinking that has led them to consider all their tools and think outside the box, quite literally.
This company has taken advantage of the Jackson Country Rural Enterprise zone and continues to invest right here. With close to 100 employees in White City, the company is only minutes from the Rogue River – which they say offers the best salmon fishing in the Pacific Northwest. They have a fascinating array of computer-automated machinery to engineer and build the most advanced products in the world.
hook, line and sinker. They have shipped product to seven countries and expanded the product line to include more than just drift, power, and jet boats to aluminum wake boats. Now I am not a fisherwoman versed in fishing jargon, but I understand this is quite the catch for the boating s a southern Oregon story of innovation and ingenuity. 

Congratulations Highway Products and Pavati Marine!  

Tenacity Award
This company has been a mainstay in Grants Pass for many years and has gone through its own share of expansion and contraction like many other manufacturers. At one point, we thought we might lose the company completely but the SOREDI team, City of Grants Pass, and Business Oregon came together to help the company stay and thrive, eventually enabling it to become one of the most productive plants, out of seventeen, within their entire corporation.

As one of the largest manufacturers of its type in North America, the company has become masterful at listening to the desires of their customers and then crafting the product to meet the need. Whether moving into something new or renovating something old, their customers wanted to create their ideal living space and this tenacious company had the nuts and bolts to build it.  Several years ago this company had as many as three shifts and upwards of 550 employees; but then gradually had to downsize to just one shift. Another sister plant to this company, also located in Oregon, consolidated during this time.  

But just this year, the company invested several million in its plant to upgrade equipment and streamline processes while adding back a second shift taking it from its 300-employee payroll last fall to its 450 employee payroll today – that’s 150 southern Oregonians back at work over roughly a 4-month period. And this master of companies in the building industry continues to be forward thinking for its next Grants Pass expansion.
Congratulations MasterBrand Cabinets!
Collaboration Award
Southern Oregon has a reputation of collaboration. Not just between agencies like SOREDI and our many jurisdictional partners – but business to business collaboration, mentoring, coaching, and more.

This Central Point company has been here more than a decade and is growing rapidly – they are likely to be a candidate for another future award. But their success is about helping others succeed. They often talk about their attitude of servitude and virtual cycles – the values that are foundational within their business.  It is this same attitude of servitude to other local businesses that helped SOREDI see clearly that this manufacturer and R&D firm was looking through a different lens when it comes to sharing their expertise, experience, and failures with other companies.

With a particular focus on lean principles, this company immediately became engaged in the Southern Oregon High Performance Enterprise Consortium about two years ago. Just this year, the future outlook of SOHPEC became even sharper when this business leader volunteered to chair the group. He has worked tirelessly to run his company and help other companies polish their outlook and processes.

This man and his company exemplify collaboration at its finest and has not only given of his time to lead SOHPEC and speak at SOREDI events, but he and many on his staff have mentored high school youth and inspired them about career and vocational opportunities right here in Southern Oregon.  

Congratulations Norm Kester & Quantum Innovations!
Prosperity Award
We do not lack outstanding companies in the region to brag about. And this year we considered several different nominations – all of which were worthy. But when a long-standing company and one of our largest area employers continues to receive accolades beyond the recreational and cultural borders of Southern Oregon, we need to stand up and applaud.

It isn’t just that this world-renown company won a few national awards recently, and it isn’t just about their many great performances and how they continue to wow thousands of tourists from all over the world in one of our lovely communities. It isn’t that they continue to collaborate with other local businesses, sharing their talented employees for other great purposes and business successes. It isn’t that they just built an amazing state of the art facility in another local community just down the road to become more efficient. It is about all of this!

This non-profit was nominated in every award category and has invested millions in Southern Oregon.  After many years of making do with cramped quarters, it was simply busting out of its costumes. And thus nearly 80 years after staging their home in Ashland, this theatrical company of nearly 600 built an additional 71,000 s/f of production space in Talent with automation and technology that is not much ado about nothing - it is really quite something you should arrange to go see it.

Congratulations Oregon Shakespeare Festival!
Inspiration Award
When staff sits down to chat about our Inspiration Award, many great volunteers come to mind but each year we have had a very clear consensus on this award. We have sat back and asked ourselves, who it is that we aspire to be like? Who is it that has exhibited a passion and commitment to SOREDI and our regional economy that is beyond measure? Who is it that really understands that we are not just one community or thirteen communities or two counties – but a vibrant region that is synergistic, enthusiastic and prosperous when we come together?
This person exhibited a commitment to southern Oregon when he helped multiple agencies and interests come together in 1987 to birth a truly regional economic development endeavor that is SOREDI. This person was one of our first board members and president in 1988, and also served on our loan committee for a number of years. A banking professional serving and working in both counties, this person never really saw a geographic boundary or county border; he was and continues to be passionate about the people of Southern Oregon.
Serving on many other task forces and committees, this long-standing SOREDI fan and current board member – 27 years and going strong – clearly understands loyalty! As a Rogue Community College board member, he is further committed to ensuring our workforce has the skills and education it needs to meet the needs of our local business. In fact, the first time I (Colleen Johnston) met this person was when he shook my hand as I walked across the stage to receive my associate’s degree from RCC fifteen years ago. Little did I know then that I would work for the very agency that he gave his heart to in 1987 and continues to give his all to, today. This gentleman and his wife inspire us as they stay in the fight to ensure that SOREDI remains the strong regional economic development agency that it has been since 1987, well into the next 27 years and beyond.  

 Congratulations Dean Wendle!

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Thanks to our members, we at SOREDI (Southern Oregon Regional Economic Development Inc.) are able to offer business assistance, expansion, and relocation services at no charge to our clients. If you own a company and are ready to grow to the next stage, SOREDI can connect you with the resources that you need.

As a private non-profit organization serving Jackson and Josephine Counties since 1987, we represent more than 100 private companies, public utilities, and local governments. SOREDI exists to help business create and sustain good jobs and diversify the economy of Southern Oregon.

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