Pasta Gardner

Cooking up Local Flavor with Help from the SBDC

After attending a culinary school in Italy and learning how to cook authentic Italian food, Jeff Gardner returned to his hometown of Eugene to create a pasta from locally-grown wheat.

Inspired by the regional foods of Italy, Jeff wanted to develop a regional pasta for the Willamette Valley. In 2014, he started working with Camas Country Mill and, after a year of testing different grinds of wheat, Jeff found a flour variety he liked.

He now makes six different shapes of pasta with five different varieties of wheat. Jeff produces about 100 pounds of pasta a week. He sells Pasta Gardner pasta in local stores and at the Lane County Farmers Market.

Jeff went to the SBDC before launching his business. Having also studied at the Culinary Institute of America in New York, he was an experienced chef. But Jeff didn’t know how to run a business. So he took the SBDC’s Business 101 class.

The SBDC helped him with a business plan, licensing, website, logo and more.

“I didn’t know anything really about business,” Jeff said. “It was invaluable, what they did.”

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Run Hub Northwest

RunHub NW Up and Running with Help from SBDC

June 2016

In 2014, lifelong runner Dustin Pearce decided to leave his high school teaching position and open a running store in Eugene.

Pearce opened Run Hub Northwest in 2015. He wanted customer service to set his shop apart, so he not only sells running shoes and other supplies but hosts group runs, scavenger hunts and half-marathon and marathon training programs.

“To keep the lights on, we are a retail store and we have to sell things,” Pearce said. “But we use the store as a platform to do things in the community to engage people in running.”

Pearce went to the SBDC with his business idea. He met with an adviser who had previously run a ski shop and offered Pearce advice on working in sports retail. His adviser also helped him apply for a State of Oregon Entrepreneurial Development Loan. After acquiring the loan, Pearce started attending trade shows to sign contracts with vendors, such as Brooks and Muzuno.

He then started looking for a location and settled on a shop across from 5th Street Market, a short distance from running trails on the Willamette River.

As the Run Hub community grows, Pearce hopes to start hosting races.

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Swallowtail Spirits

Great Advice from the SBDC Distilled an Idea into a Business

Kevin Barrett started distilling spirits as a hobby.

But when he couldn’t age a whiskey longer than six months because his friends insisted on drinking it, Kevin turned the hobby into a job.

“People were telling me it was turning out really good,” he said.

Kevin started apprenticing at Hard Times Distillery in Monroe in 2014. He learned about the intricacies of distilling and researched bottle, label and cap costs. He began doing tastings at liquor stores. Soon after, Barrett registered his business and started bottling vodka.

In 2015, Kevin went to SBDC for help writing a business plan. Business advisers directed him to funding, helped him forecast his sales and aided in a marketing plan.

“All of that advising, it was invaluable,” he said.

SBDC also referred Kevin to the Regional Accelerator & Innovation Network in Eugene. In early 2016, he presented his business and was approached by investors. That summer, he opened a warehouse and tasting room in Springfield.

Now, Kevin is bottling flavored vodkas and various types of gin. He is also making a whiskey in cooperation with Ninkasi, using the brewery’s Oatis Oatmeal stout.

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Good Clean Love

Small Business Management Program Helps Build National Brand

Wendy Strgar started making all-natural personal lubricants in her Eugene kitchen in 2003 in the hopes of finding a product that would work for her and her husband.

What she created was a line of organic lubricants that are now sold in thousands of stores throughout the country.

Wendy completed the SBDC’s three-year Small Business Management Program.

“So many of the basic skills you believe you should come into a business with I did not have, like basic accounting and marketing,” she said. “I learned those things during those monthly classes.”

Wendy received financing from the Willamette Angels Conference and other individual investors. She also worked to get her product into stores, like Kroger, Target, Walmart, CVS Pharmacy and more.

“It took us really quite a while to land at who we are today,” she said.

Good Clean Love also sells feminine hygiene products and aphrodisiac oils. Their products are free of petrochemicals, which can cause damage to sensitive tissues, leading to an increased risk of infection, according to a study by the National Institutes of Health and Johns Hopkins University.

Wendy is now participating in the SBDC’s Scale Oregon program to continue to grow her business.

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Cornbread Café

Franchising an Iconic Eugene Restaurant? Getting the Right Advice is Crucial

Sheree Walters’ vegetarian grandmother was the inspiration for Cornbread Café, a Eugene restaurant serving southern-inspired vegan comfort food.

“She taught me how to cook, so I grew up eating all kinds of vegetarian things,” Sheree said.

A photo of her grandmother hangs behind the 1950s-style diner counter in her restaurant.

Sheree and a business partner started Cornbread Café in 2010 in a food cart. Their all-vegan menu was popular from the start, and in 2011, they moved into the restaurant’s current location on West Seventh Avenue. Sheree later purchased her partner’s share of the restaurant.

Sheree went to the SBDC in early 2017 to discuss franchising options with a business adviser. Her adviser suggested she focus first on catering and opening a second restaurant.

Sheree’s adviser encouraged her to talk to other local restaurant owners who have franchised. He is also helping her write profit and loss statements and compose a training manual.

“A lot of what has been helpful is he is confirming that what I’m doing is right,” Sheree said.

Cornbread Café attracts tourists from around the world, Sheree said. The café was the first vegan restaurant to be featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives in 2014.

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