Issaquah’s Combat Flip Flops is a post-conflict success story

March 11, 2014

What do Army Rangers, a dedication to helping global post-conflict areas and flip-flops have in common? Together, they create innovation in Issaquah.

The Issaquah Chamber of Commerce honored Combat Flip Flops last month as one of three Innovation in Issaquah award winners. The award marked another milestone in the interesting business’ trajectory, which began in the mountains of Afghanistan.

By Greg Farrar Matt ‘Griff’ Griffin, CEO of Combat Flip Flops, poses in his Issaquah workroom with a sarong hand-embroidered by a woman-owned business in Afghanistan, along with the very first finished pair of sandals he produced in February 2013.

By Greg Farrar
Matt ‘Griff’ Griffin, CEO of Combat Flip Flops, poses in his Issaquah workroom with a sarong hand-embroidered by a woman-owned business in Afghanistan, along with the very first finished pair of sandals he produced in February 2013.

“We fought in a different war,” company co-founder Matthew Griffin, casually known as “Griff,” said in his Issaquah garage, which served as the manufacturing facility for the first 4,000 pairs of flip-flops. “We had to run guys down in the most adverse conditions. But it was a really giving culture and we never forgot it.”

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Semble brings together communities and investors through innovation

February 25, 2014

For nonprofits always on the lookout for funding, Semble bridges the gap between those communities and investors.

Chosen as one of the three Innovation in Issaquah award winners by the Issaquah Chamber of Commerce, Semble has grown a lot since beginning in 2008.

By Peter Clark President Chris Walcott stands in the open offices of Semble. The Bellevue company that aims to match nonprofits’ needs with community investors was given an Issaquah Chamber of Commerce Innovation in Issaquah award.

By Peter Clark
President Chris Walcott stands in the open offices of Semble. The Bellevue company that aims to match nonprofits’ needs with community investors was given an Issaquah Chamber of Commerce Innovation in Issaquah award.

“This was birthed out of necessity,” President Chris Walcott said. “When there are communities around the nonprofits, there’s a community that would support that nonprofit. Our role is to help communities be intentional with their investments.”

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Issaquah innovators earn business honor

January 29, 2013

Innovation in Issaquah is exemplified by a leading apparel manufacturer, a revolutionary process to transform garbage into fertilizer and a theater renowned for fostering Broadway-bound musicals.

Issaquah Chamber of Commerce and city leaders announced the Innovation in Issaquah honorees — apparel manufacturer SanMar, WISErg, a manufacturer of garbage-to-fertilizer harvesters, and the nonprofit Village Theatre — at a Jan. 24 ceremony and luncheon.

Leaders from the chamber and City Hall recognized the entrepreneurs’ accomplishments through the Innovation in Issaquah contest, a showcase for local businesses offering unique services. Honorees demonstrate innovation in product development, services, systems or strategies.

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Virginia Mason Medical Center CEO touts innovation

January 29, 2013

Dr. Gary Kaplan sought to streamline health care and create a safer — and more inviting — environment for patients upon assuming the CEO post at Virginia Mason Medical Center in 2000.

“We said, ‘Should we just focus on being victims of this system? Can we just complain and go to Congress and say, “Give us more money,” or should we actually focus on our circle of concern and our circle of influence — things we can actually do something about?’” he recalled Jan. 24 at the Issaquah Chamber of Commerce’s Innovation in Issaquah luncheon.

So, Kaplan, a practicing internal medicine physician at the hospital, set out to apply the Toyota Production System, or Lean, to health care management with goals to rein in high costs and improve quality, safety and efficiency to deliver better and more affordable health care.

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Issaquah Chamber of Commerce honors business innovators

January 24, 2013

NEW — 1:40 p.m. Jan. 24, 2013

The most innovative businesses in Issaquah clothe people around the globe, transform garbage into fertilizer, and create productions for local and Broadway audiences.

Issaquah Chamber of Commerce and city leaders announced the Innovation in Issaquah honorees — apparel manufacturer SanMar, WISErg, a manufacturer of fertilizer harvesters, and Village Theatre — at a ceremony and luncheon Thursday.

Leaders at the chamber and City Hall recognized the entrepreneurs’ accomplishments through the Innovation in Issaquah contest, a showcase for local businesses offering unique services.

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Lakeside Center for Autism uses technology as treatment tool

March 20, 2012

Dan Stachelski, CEO, director and a speech-language pathologist at Lakeside Center for Autism, stands at a mosaic of jigsaw puzzle pieces made by some of the youngsters in art class who attend the school. By Greg Farrar

The hustle and bustle at Lakeside Center for Autism is intentional.

Tucked in rooms outfitted in technology both tried-and-true and cutting-edge, children and therapists spend hours each day to overcome the obstacles put in place by autism. The commotion and laughter emanating from behind the closed doors come as signs of success.

Lakeside Center for Autism uses the popular Microsoft Kinect system and other tools to treat the complicated neural development disorder.

“It’s all about participation,” company CEO, president and founder Dan Stachelski said. “Technology can do that.”

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Marketing Masters ascends to aerospace stratosphere

March 13, 2012

Manufacturer supplies key components for Boeing, Airbus

Jacques Gauron sets out a pile of Clip Nuts on an aircraft floor panel sample at Marketing Masters in Issaquah. By Greg Farrar

The fasteners connecting pieces in each Boeing and Airbus jetliner — a component left unseen by passengers for the most part — originate at a small Issaquah manufacturer.

The manufacturer, Marketing Masters, creates inserts and fasteners from Torlon — a substance cheaper, lighter and more resistant to corrosion than the titanium used in earlier-generation aircraft fasteners.

The fasteners hold together pieces in the behemoth Airbus A380 — the largest passenger jetliner in service — and the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, a next-generation plane assembled mostly from composite materials.

Issaquah Chamber of Commerce leaders spotlighted Marketing Masters as a business innovator in the Innovation in Issaquah contest late last month.

The chamber also honored Impact Studio Pro and Lakeside Center for Autism as innovators. The carbon-neutral community zHome also received a nod as the most innovative public-private partnership.

Issaquah resident Jacques Gauron, a Liberty High School graduate, and brother Andre operate the global Marketing Masters business from a modest building in Central Issaquah. Burger King obscures the facility from the traffic along bustling state Route 900.

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Impact Studio Pro rolls innovation into video production

March 6, 2012

 Impact Studio Pro staff includes (from left) software developer and CASTUS Vice President Jon Campbell, ISP Director and Editor Nathan Bosseler, Project Manager Elaine Bosseler, Bellevue College Web developer intern Alex Elsayed and 3-D artist Jahn Flaatrud. By Greg Farrar

Inside the video marketing agency Impact Studio Pro, a Mountain Dew-fueled operation creates TV commercials, promotional spots, public service announcements and music videos for more than 100 clients.

The tiny company operates from a converted Issaquah Highlands apartment, a space referred to as the “think tank” by founder Nathan Bosseler. The office overlooks rooftops and the Issaquah Alps. Bosseler uses a space designed for a bedroom as the executive suite.

Major clients include the Issaquah Schools Foundation, Gene Juarez Academy, Hyundai of Kirkland, and municipal governments in Sammamish and SeaTac.

Issaquah Chamber of Commerce leaders spotlighted Impact Studio Pro as a business innovator in the Innovation in Issaquah contest late last month.

The chamber also honored Marketing Masters and Lakeside Center for Autism as innovators. The carbon-neutral community zHome also received a nod as the most innovative public-private partnership.

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City, Issaquah Chamber of Commerce honor innovators

February 28, 2012

The most innovative businesses in Issaquah manufacture fasteners for airliners, use technology to treat autism, and rely on a tiny-but-talented staff to create slick productions.

Issaquah Chamber of Commerce announced the Innovation in Issaquah honorees — Marketing Masters, Lakeside Center for Autism and Impact Studio Pro — at a Feb. 22 ceremony and luncheon.

The carbon-neutral community zHome also received a nod as the most innovative public-private partnership. The city spearheaded the 10-unit townhouse development from concept to completion.

Leaders from the chamber and City Hall recognized the entrepreneurs’ accomplishments through the Innovation in Issaquah contest, a showcase for local businesses offering unique services. Honorees demonstrate innovation in product development, services, systems or strategies.

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Innovation in Issaquah honor is latest milestone for zHome

February 28, 2012

The accolades started to accumulate for the carbon-neutral community zHome before construction concluded.

The latest honor — recognition in the Innovation in Issaquah contest as the top public-private partnership — highlights the collaboration among academic, business and government interests to complete the 10-unit townhouse project.

The community in the Issaquah Highlands uses zero net energy and 70 percent less water than a traditional home. The community opened in September 2011 as the inaugural carbon-neutral and zero-energy multifamily community in the United States.

“We live in a really exceptional city,” zHome Project Manager Brad Liljequist said. “Projects like this cannot happen without a mayor and a City Council that also have vision. I’ve worked in a lot of different cities around the Northwest, and Issaquah is truly exceptional when it comes to our city’s leadership.”

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