Issaquah startup transforms trash into treasure at local grocery store

May 15, 2012

City Council President Tola Marts speaks at WISErg’s public unveiling of a food-scrap harvester at PCC Natural Market on May 8. By Autumn Monahan

The castoffs from daily activity in a grocery store — fruit peels from the juice bar, meat trimmings from the deli, discarded vegetable leaves from the produce section — no longer go to the compost heap at the PCC Natural Markets store at Pickering Place.

Instead, employees dump the refuse into a boxy structure tucked near the loading dock. The apparatus, a machine called a harvester, transforms the peels and trimmings into sludge — a building block for organic fertilizer.

Issaquah-based WISErg developed the harvester and built the prototype for the local grocery co-op. The company also uses the sludge to produce fertilizer, a tawny liquid no thicker than water.

Microsoft alumni Larry LeSueur and Jose Lugo founded WISErg in 2009. The startup venture is based across the street from Pickering Place. (The company name is a nod to the erg, a tiny unit of energy.)

“We all know the scraps headed for the Dumpsters are full of nutrients and value,” LeSueur said at a public debut for the harvester May 8. “The last thing we should do is landfill them and create more environmental and community headaches.”

WISErg approached Diana Crane, director of sustainability for Seattle-based PCC, and broached the idea of installing a harvester at a store.

“How exciting it is that the trash produced daily from our juice bar, deli, meat and produce departments that would otherwise be sent to landfills is now being offered in our PCC stores as a high-quality plant food,” Issaquah Store Director Debbi Montgomery said.

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Issaquah-based Costco earns high spot on Fortune 500

May 8, 2012

Issaquah-based Costco is No. 24 on the Fortune 500, the annual list of top companies in the United States compiled and published by the magazine.

The largest warehouse club chain on the planet sold about $89 billion in merchandise last year — including electronics, gasoline, rotisserie chickens and the bestselling product, toilet paper.

“Even as the economy slowly recovers, many shoppers are sticking to the thrifty habits they acquired over the past few years,” the magazine noted. “This spells good news for Costco.”

Fortune released the list May 7. Oil giant Exxon Mobil claimed the No. 1 spot. Costco rival Wal-Mart Stores came in at No. 2.

Costco, as the largest employer in Issaquah, employs about 2,700 people in corporate offices and at the flagship warehouse in Pickering Place.

The company headquarters relocated from Kirkland to Issaquah in 1996 — hence the Kirkland Signature name on store-brand products.

Issaquah-based Costco ranks No. 24 on Fortune 500

May 7, 2012

NEW — 6 a.m. May 7, 2012

Issaquah-based Costco is No. 24 on the Fortune 500, the annual list of top companies in the United States compiled and published by the magazine.

The largest warehouse club chain on the planet sold about $89 billion in merchandise last year — including electronics, gasoline, rotisserie chickens and the bestselling product, toilet paper.

“Even as the economy slowly recovers, many shoppers are sticking to the thrifty habits they acquired over the past few years,” the magazine noted. “This spells good news for Costco.”

Fortune released the list Monday. Oil giant Exxon Mobil claimed the No. 1 spot. Costco rival Wal-Mart Stores came in at No. 2.

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Former Issaquah Mayor Herb Herrington dies

April 24, 2012

Herb Herrington

Former Mayor Herb Herrington, a genteel Texan and the chief executive as Issaquah started a long metamorphosis from a one-stoplight town to a commercial hub, died April 13.

Herrington, 83, served as mayor from 1974-81, before the Eastside population boom reshaped Issaquah from a former coal-mining and logging settlement into a center for high-tech and service industries. Later city leaders credited Herrington for creating a City Hall culture more responsive to citizens’ concerns.

“One of the things I learned from him is that you can disagree without being disagreeable,” former Mayor Rowan Hinds said.

Compassion also defined Herrington’s legacy. In 1977, the then-mayor spearheaded Community Enterprises of Issaquah, a predecessor to AtWork! — a nonprofit organization dedicated to skills training and job placement for disabled people.

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Peek behind the scenes as documentary examines ‘Costco Craze’

April 24, 2012

Issaquah-based Costco sells $4 billion in produce, almost $2 billion in televisions, 55 million rotisserie chickens, 2.6 billion gallons of gasoline and 3 million pairs of eyeglasses each year.

The largest warehouse club chain on the planet is the subject of a CNBC documentary, “The Costco Craze: Inside the Warehouse Giant,” scheduled to debut April 26.

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Consumers laud warehouse chain in national grocery survey

April 10, 2012

Issaquah-based Costco earned high marks among 52 major grocery chains in a Consumer Reports survey released April 3.

The largest warehouse club chain in the United States clinched the No. 5 spot on the list. Survey respondents lauded Costco for price, products and shopping environment, but dinged the retail giant for customer service.

The 24,203 Consumer Reports subscribers involved in the survey rated Wegmans, Trader Joe’s, Publix and Fareway in the top spots in the survey. (Trader Joe’s operates a store in Issaquah at Pickering Place.)

Though Costco earned points for a selection of quality meat and produce, a clean shopping environment and budget-friendly prices, the chain faltered in the service category, defined as employee courtesy and checkout speed.

Consumer Reports said “service is minimal at warehouse clubs such as Costco, and lengthy lines are a tradeoff for day-in, day-out deals.”

Pathmark, Walmart Supercenter, Shaw’s, A&P and Jewel-Osco received the lowest rankings in the survey.

Issaquah-based Costco earns high marks in survey of grocery chains

April 3, 2012

NEW — 6 a.m. April 3, 2012

Issaquah-based Costco earned high marks among 52 major grocery chains in a Consumer Reports survey released Tuesday.

The largest warehouse club chain in the United States clinched the No. 5 spot on the list. Survey respondents lauded Costco for price, products and shopping environment, but dinged the retail giant for customer service.

The 24,203 Consumer Reports subscribers involved in the survey rated Wegmans, Trader Joe’s, Publix and Fareway in the top spots in the survey. (Trader Joe’s operates a store in Issaquah at Pickering Place.)

Though Costco earned points for a selection of quality meat and produce, a clean shopping environment and budget-friendly prices, the chain faltered in the service category, defined as employee courtesy and checkout speed.

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Issaquah-based Costco ranks No. 1 for quality in survey

February 21, 2012

Issaquah-based Costco pleased shoppers more than other major retailers, Consumer Reports announced Feb. 7.

The magazine surveyed more than 26,000 readers to compile the data. Customers told Consumer Reports about 55,108 shopping experiences at 10 retailers, including Costco, JCPenney, Macy’s, Target and Walmart. The survey respondents also detailed experiences at the retailers’ online outlets.

Costco emerged as the only chain to earn the top rating for overall merchandise quality, in brick-and-mortar stores and online. The warehouse chain also earned above-average scores in all 10 product categories, including electronics and jewelry.

Costco’s website performed better than warehouses on all counts except product quality. The website also received top marks for checkout, layout and product value.

Customers dinged Costco for below-average selection in warehouses, in-store service and the checkout experience, due to long lines. Shoppers also complained about Costco’s dearth of fitting rooms.

In addition to store ratings, the report also includes Consumer Reports reader scores for the product offerings at all major stores, including clothing, jewelry, hardware, home decor, kitchenware, electronics, sporting goods and toys.

The complete survey results appear in the March issue of Consumer Reports.

Costco is the largest employer in Issaquah. The company employs about 2,700 people in Issaquah corporate offices and at the flagship warehouse in Pickering Place.

Costco tops list for quality in Consumer Reports customer survey

February 7, 2012

NEW — 6 a.m. Feb. 7, 2012

Issaquah-based Costco pleased shoppers more than other major retailers, Consumer Reports announced Tuesday.

The magazine surveyed more than 26,000 readers to compile the data. Customers told Consumer Reports about 55,108 shopping experiences at 10 retailers, including Costco, JCPenney, Macy’s, Target and Walmart. The survey respondents also detailed experiences at the retailers’ online outlets.

Costco emerged as the only chain to earn the top rating for overall merchandise quality, in brick-and-mortar stores and online. The warehouse chain also earned above-average scores in all 10 product categories, including electronics and jewelry.

Costco’s website performed better than warehouses on all counts except product quality. The website also received top marks for checkout, layout and product value.

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Developer requests $3 million from city for Issaquah Highlands retail center

November 22, 2011

In order to complete a long-planned business district in the Issaquah Highlands — and transform 14 acres into a cinema, shops, restaurants and more than 1,700 parking stalls — the developer behind the project said about $3 million in city funds is needed.

The developer, Florida-based Regency Centers, said the highlands project needs the dollars to complete roadwork and other infrastructure.

Regency and highlands developer Port Blakely Communities announced a deal in July to sell the land for a retail center, but before Regency completes the deal, company planners asked city leaders to commit public dollars to the project.

City officials said the retail complex could generate about $1 million in sales tax revenue each year.

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