Curl School Bus Service

 

For 42 years now, Curl School Bus Service has provided busing for the Vernonia School District. It’s a commitment to the community that Rob Curl has always taken very seriously. In 2020, that commitment required overcoming a whole new set of obstacles.

It was Rob’s dad and grandfather who first bid on and won the contract to provide school bus services in Vernonia in 1978. As he grew up, Rob often helped out in the Curl School Bus Service shop and would then hike for an hour over the mountains to have lunch at his grandparent’s timber and cattle farm. Those are fond memories.

After graduating from Oregon State University with a degree in forestry and natural resources, Rob spent more than five years traveling throughout the west doing environmental assessments on rivers. In 2005, he returned to the family business, eventually purchasing it after his dad became ill.

With 16 employees operating 19 buses and vans, Curl School Bus Service is one of only three small local busing companies servicing school districts in the state of Oregon. The rest are large corporations. “All of our employees are local folks vested in our Vernonia history, people committed to doing a good job for the community,” explains Rob. “Everyone knows everyone around here, which makes it even more important that we make the community proud.”

If you were to drive across the Vernonia school district, it would take almost an hour. That means it can be raining in town, clear in other areas, while other parts of the district are under six inches of snow. When adverse weather hits, Rob must make the difficult decision about whether schools can be open. “We know that deciding whether buses can run safely affects everyone in the community,” says Rob. “You never fall asleep on nights when snow is coming.”

Snow falls every year; fortunately, pandemics are a much rarer occurrence. Covid has altered all our lives. Businesses in particular have faced considerable challenges. Even though in-person learning is suspended, Curl School Bus Service has still been providing the essential service of delivering school lunches throughout the district. To do so, Rob had to purchase three smaller buses, so that lunches could be delivered up individual driveways.

To deliver those lunches hygienically and to be prepared for the eventual resumption of transporting students, Rob had to assess all of his company’s sanitation protocols. “While most busing companies are simply hand wiping common surfaces, we wanted our employees and the community to feel safe, so we invested in the highest level of sanitation in the industry,” he explains. At a cost of more than $10,000, Rob purchased professional sprayers for every bus in the fleet, so that each bus could be disinfected on the fly, meaning less delays and no cross contamination. In Rob’s words: “We’ve done it the right way because that’s what our community deserves.”

But for Rob and his wife, Sara, 2020 hasn’t been all negative. Their first child, Weston, was born in June. An ER nurse for 18 years, Sara is finishing a 6-month maternity leave and will return to nursing in January. In their spare time, Rob and Sara work on the 150-acre timber property that they purchased from the family trust, managing the same land on the Nehalem River that Rob has so many fond memories of when it was owned by his grandparents.

Like most folks in Vernonia, Rob is an avid hunter and fisherman. In fact, it was through hunting and fishing that he forged a friendship with Jake Postlewait, a Senior Vice President at Oregon Coast Bank, back while they were both attending Oregon State.
When Covid began shutting down commerce, and businesses across the country were scrambling to remain financially solvent, congress did the right thing and acted to provide the SBA Paycheck Protection Program. But applying for PPP loans entailed considerable paperwork and the requirements were at first somewhat of a moving target.

“We applied through our former bank and to put it lightly I was somewhat panicked when I learned that every PPP loan that bank had prepared had been rejected during the first round of financing. That’s when I called Jake. He said Oregon Coast Bank would be glad to help and within one day they submitted our application and our loan was approved,” remembers Rob. “We were so impressed that we decided to move all of our accounts to Oregon Coast Bank, which has been a great decision. Their service is amazing.”

For most businesses, the pandemic and economic shutdowns have been difficult. “We were financially healthy going into it and by hunkering down we’re getting through it,” points out Rob. “We’re able to make our bus payments, so I guess we’re one of the fortunate companies, but I feel so bad for the family businesses who haven’t fared as well. People here in Vernonia are resilient. We’ve rebuilt before. As a community we will get through this. I count our blessings every day and look forward to continuing to serve our role in the community for years to come.”

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Foland Creek Dairy

 

It was in 1911 that Charles “Ollie” Woods purchased some farm land along Foland Creek in Beaver from his uncle, Merriam Foland, and started a dairy. His son Edwin took over the operation in 1944 that eventually was named Woodstock Dairy. Fifty-five years later, two of Edwin’s sons, Wayne and Greg, began running the dairy, before deciding to go their separate ways in 2012. Wayne kept the Woodstock Dairy name, moved to another farm and now is currently farming in Wisconsin. Greg and his wife Melissa continue to operate the family farm in Beaver, which is now named Foland Creek Dairy and encompasses 180 acres.

Learning the trade often evolves naturally in dairy families. “When we were kids we always went to the barn to play. Eventually I was working,” remembers Greg. He also studied dairy farming at Clatsop Community College in Astoria.

Between 2001 and 2011, Greg periodically hauled cattle across the country, while Melissa stayed home with their three children, Blake, Justin and Carrie. Eventually Greg decided that the hauling trips were “hard on the family” and that being home on the farm was where he should be full-time.

The term “full-time” may be an understatement in the dairy business. “We start milking at 3:30 in the morning”, explains Greg. “By 5:30 am we’re cleaning barns and feeding the young stock.” With a full-time milker and a high school student working part-time, Greg now has a little more time for fieldwork and even some days off. He admits, however, that his definition of a day off is still “four to five hours of work.” Greg and Melissa make quite a business team – while he takes care of the dairy, she handles all the book work.

Greg, Melissa and their three children live “just up the road”, while Ruth, Greg’s mother, continues to reside in her home at Foland Creek Dairy. Sometimes she’ll call Greg in the middle of the night saying: “I think I hear an odd noise at the barn, you better come down.” Calving rarely occurs at predictable times, but is of course essential to the operation. Now with 165 cows and about 165 heifers, Greg says “our barns are about full.”

“A dairy is a great place to raise a family,” points out Melissa. “Your kids naturally pick up the work ethic.” The Woods children have all been involved with the Nestucca County 4-H Dairy Club, with Melissa volunteering as one of the leaders. Greg has served as a youth basketball coach. Melissa and her daughter enjoy gaming play-days and trail riding with their two horses.

Before she became a stay-at-home mom, Melissa was in the banking industry, where she worked with Angela Warren, who now manages our Oregon Coast Bank Tillamook office. The Woods have Oregon Coast Bank savings and checking accounts for both family and business. The bank also provided financing when they purchased an additional farming property in August of 2015. Melissa saves time by managing their accounts online and is a big fan of Oregon Coast Bank online Bill Pay – “I rarely have to write checks anymore,” she says.

To Greg, dairy farming isn’t just a job, “it’s a way of life.” Those dairy barns are where he was raised, where he learned his work ethic, where he returned, and where he chose to raise his own family. Watching his children play and work in those same barns, you can see what a great choice he made.

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Scholerman Painting

scholerman-painting

 

“We come from a long line of workaholics,” admits Andrew Scholerman. His dad, Bill, arrived from upstate New York 45 years ago to become a commercial fisherman in Garibaldi. Soon he was painting boats, which naturally led to houses, farms and eventually commercial buildings. He’s been at it ever since.

Raised on the Miami River, Andrew started learning the trade at the age of 12, painting beside his dad. By the time he was 18 he was licensed, bonded and the owner of his own company, Scholerman Painting. Andrew may look young, but he’s been painting commercially for more than a dozen years now.

With commercial and residential projects from Astoria to Lincoln City, both Scholerman Painting and Bill’s company, A-1 Painting, have stayed busy in good times and bad. It’s not unusual for them to work as many as 36 days in a row. Both are one-man firms, which is how they prefer it. “We never work on volume – by doing things ourselves we can maintain our reputation,” points out Bill. On large jobs they work together. “I couldn’t do it without him,” they say almost simultaneously about each other.

Repeat customers are the norm; the Scholermans have painted for as many as three generations of some families. “We’re clean painters,” says Andrew. “We make sure that all surfaces are prepped and primed before being painted.” The process always starts with a thorough power washing. Because they own man-lifts, the Scholermans are able to work quickly and reach surfaces high in the air. Perhaps most importantly: “we’re reliable and we bill fairly, so we get called back,” explains Andrew.

To Andrew, painting is always gratifying because “at the end of the day you get to see what you’ve done.” “Making an old building shine like new again is a nice feeling,” he adds. Bill smiles while citing the old adage: “Painters get the glory – no one ever says: hey look at the plumbing.”

Andrew likens his business philosophy to the service he receives at his community bank. “Oregon Coast Bank is simply there to satisfy their customers,” he says. “They’re always glad to sit down and talk with you about how they can help your business.” Recently, the bank financed Andrew’s new lift trailer, which is shown above. Andrew and his wife, Sierra, are also planning on purchasing a home in the future, knowing that Oregon Coast Bank will be there for the mortgage.

“We may be workaholics, but we appreciate our lifestyle,” reflects Andrew. “Dad taught me to always be grateful for what we have and never complain about what we don’t have.” Clearly, the Scholermans enjoy their trade and their lives. Hard work and humility does seem to be a good recipe for happiness.

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Kottre Tree Farms

kottre-tree-farms

 

Since the work starts at daylight and getting to the jobsites can take up to one and a half hours, they’re definitely early risers. They log five days a week, but with equipment maintenance and paperwork, they always work seven. Yet Steve, Ed, Harold and Jesse Kottre wouldn’t want it any other way.

Kottre Tree Farms does contract logging in state forests within the Tillamook Burn. The company also owns 360 acres of their own timber land, which they harvest using a 35-40 year crop cycle. The land is replanted by hand with a mix of Douglas fir, noble fir, cedar and hemlock, at 400 trees per acre.

Steve and Ed were born in Astoria and eventually moved to Tillamook. Like most kids on the coast, “we always wanted to play outside”, remembers Steve. After graduating from Tillamook High School, they each went to work “in the woods” for Crown Zellerbach. By 1989, they had opened their own company, which has grown steadily.

Today, Kottre Tree Farms employs seven full time, including Ed’s sons, Harold and Jesse, who are now part of the management team. Their employment philosophy is simple: “you hire good, you pay good”, which has resulted in a productive team of longtime employees, each of whom receives health insurance for their families. In addition, Kottre Tree Farms regularly contracts with several tree cutters and log truck operators.

The work is bid contract to contract, with some jobs lasting a year or more. “Our name is on it,” explains Jesse, “which is why we take extra pride in doing great work.” “Logging is a small community,” adds Ed. “People know who does a good job.”

Steve jokes that “we log because we haven’t seen anything better yet”, but clearly they love the career and enjoy working outdoors in the coastal mountains. In fact, in their off hours they often head back outside – hunting, hiking and fishing.

The Kottres are pragmatic about their division of labor: “Whatever needs to be done, gets done”, says Harold. “There’s no politics,” adds Ed. “Efficiency is the key to what we do.” Asked how they get along, they simultaneously laugh, but it’s obvious that they do.

Kottre Tree Farms has invested millions in expensive heavy equipment such as yarders, yoders, shovels, bulldozers and graders. Constant maintenance is essential, which in almost all cases is performed by Steve, Ed, Harold and Jesse.

“We’re a small company and we prefer to trade with a local community bank,” explains Ed about why Kottre Tree Farms is an Oregon Coast Bank customer. The Kottres value the relationship they have with Angela Warren, who manages our Oregon Coast Bank Tillamook office and recently helped the Kottres obtain a new yarder. Steve adds that they also appreciate working with “a bank that supports our industry.”

With both physical and financial risk, logging has historically been a difficult business. But sustainably harvesting our forests remains essential to our coastal economy. All of us at Oregon Coast Bank are appreciative of the hard work of our entire logging industry and we’re honored that so many timber related local businesses have chosen to bank with us.

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Tillamook Meat

Tillamook-Meat

 

Matt Freehill’s father was a butcher who taught him well. For more than twenty years Matt and his wife, Victoria, owned and operated a meat store themselves. When their sons, Derrick and Garrick, expressed a desire to learn the trade, Matt “passed it on”.

It was Derrick, who had moved to the Oregon Coast, who first saw a For Sale sign on Tillamook Meat, which had been open since 1968. He quickly convinced Matt and Victoria to end their retirement and purchase the business. That was in 2010.

Today five Freehills, including a fourth generation, grandson Anthony, operate Tillamook Meat. Matt describes the family business as an “old fashioned butcher shop”. Tillamook Meat mobile slaughtering trucks are a familiar sight at ranches and farms from Manzanita to Lincoln City and as far east as the valley. Derrick, Garrick and Anthony are each certified as Animal Welfare Approved, the industry’s highest standard, which means they slaughter animals quickly, sanitarily and in the most humane manner possible.

Matt makes the majority of Tillamook Meat’s processed products. Vickie is the meat wrapper and handles the office duties. Business at the counter is brisk, where often all five Freehills can be found talking with customers. “Walk through this door and you’re considered family,” explains Matt.

As for fresh meats, “anything you can barbecue is most popular”, points out Matt. That includes filets, sirloins, t-bones, chops, ribs, chicken, ground beef and a customer favorite, marinated tri-tip. Tillamook Meat is also well known for their cured, smoked and processed products, all made on site, including sausages, bacons, salamis, jerkies and snack sticks. Tillamook Meat also offers Green Mountain grills, bottled sauces, as well as fresh local milk and eggs.

Game processing is especially popular. Hunters can customize their orders and all products are double wrapped and frozen. “When a guy has us process his elk and he calls back to say his family just enjoyed their best meal ever, that’s when it’s all worthwhile,” says Matt. “You don’t get that kind of feedback working for someone else.”

Matt calls Oregon Coast Bank “the easiest bank I’ve ever dealt with”. “There’s no red tape like you get at the bigger institutions,” he adds. The bank provides Tillamook Meat’s checking account and lending for capital expenses. Matt describes Oregon Coast Bank’s service philosophy as “it’s not how can you help me, it’s how can we help you”, which we hope to be accurate. That attitude certainly seems to be the case at Tillamook Meat.

It’s now been about six years since Matt came out of retirement. He admits that his average work week is still seventy to eighty hours. A second retirement is on the horizon and the company is already in good hands with his sons and grandson. But don’t expect that soon. He’s obviously having too much fun.

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Bob Browning

Bob-Browning

He admits to having a competitive streak. During crab seasons, he’ll often work 50 or more hours straight. Bob Browning loves everything about fishing, and now that he’s completely paid off his boat, he and his crew are making a good living from it.

“In fishing, what we get paid is still based on how hard we work,” explains Bob. “Our motto is to fish tough, not stupid – we’ll cross the bar in up to 13 foot swells, but we don’t take needless risks.” Limited by law to 300 pots, Bob and his crew will bring in close to 100,000 pounds of crab this year.

Born and raised in Garibaldi, fishing is in Bob’s blood. His grandfather Rollin sold his logging company, retired, then decided to buy a commercial fishing vessel. His dad Joe was also a fisherman and took Bob on his first commercial expedition at the age of five. By the time he was 12, Bob was working on charters. After graduating high school, he immediately left to fish in Alaska. Eventually moving back home, he fished with his dad for four years. He then built log homes for six years before returning to full time fishing as a captain for other boat owners.

Believing in her husband’s work ethic, it was Bob’s wife Nancy who challenged him to take the risk of boat ownership. In 2005 he was offered the chance to purchase the WB, a 38-foot crab boat with tuna and salmon capabilities. Needing to borrow a significant sum to buy it, he approached the large chain bank where he had always had his accounts. “They didn’t seem interested in any type of fishing loan,” recalls Bob. On the advice of other fishermen, Bob then contacted Oregon Coast Bank. Understanding the cycles of the fishing industry, the bank offered Bob a unique method of repayment – significantly larger payments during crab season and far smaller ones while the boat was idle. “Oregon Coast Bank took a huge leap of faith to finance our first boat,” remembers Bob. “And to show our appreciation, Nancy and I actually drove down to the bank and paid off our loan in person, four months early.” Since then Oregon Coast Bank has also provided financing to allow Bob to upgrade his vessel. In fact he’s currently considering purchasing a larger boat, knowing he has a bank that stands behind him.

Bob, Nancy and their two children live on 2.5 scenic acres north of Tillamook. Soon they’ll be building a new home, doing much of the labor themselves. Commercial fishing demands long hours but it also allows for significant off time, which Bob gladly spends with his family, often camping and coaching baseball, softball and basketball. He’s also active in his industry, serving as a commissioner for the Port of Garibaldi and on the Fishermen’s Advisory Committee for Tillamook County.

For the Brownings, commercial fishing is still very much a family affair. Bob’s brother owns a boat and his brother-in-law is part of the crew of the WB. In fact, both of Bob and Nancy’s children have expressed an interest in fishing themselves. At Oregon Coast Bank we’re proud to be of service to fishing families like the Brownings. Fishing remains vitally important to our coastal economy, and as Bob demonstrates, it’s an industry where hard work still determines success.

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