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Introducing BIF’s Design Methodology for Next Practices and New Business Models

Wednesday, April 12, 2017


BIF Methodology

A successful business model is like a shark that has to keep moving to stay alive. But how do you make sure you’re not stuck in a crowded swim lane with declining margins, swimming upstream against disruptive currents, or even worse, find your organization dead in the water? A growing number of institutional leaders tell us that their current approach to innovation isn’t working. Inertia and culture are getting in the way of what’s next. The job-to-be-done for institutional leaders is to explore, test, and commercialize next practices and new business models. R&D for new business models is the new strategic imperative.

A next practice is a new and improved version of a capability or group of capabilities. It has the potential to transform customer experience promising a better way to deliver value. A market-tested next practice can either be integrated into today’s business model or be leveraged independently to enable entire new business models. Since its inception twelve years ago, Business Innovation Factory (BIF) has been developing and integrating the next practices of human-centered design, rapid prototyping, and storytelling/engagement into all of our client project work. These lynchpin capabilities now enable us to deliver on our value proposition: BIF helps institutional leaders make transformation safer and easier to manage.


I am beyond proud today, on behalf of our entire BIF team, to introduce:

BIF’s Design Methodology includes detailed inputs, key activities, and outputs for each of the four phases of the process.

It’s the result of a 12-year labor of love. Here are ten things our team has learned along the way:

    1    You can’t analyze your way to transformation; it’s a generative act.

    2    Transformation requires a different approach than incremental change.

    3    Leadership in the 21st century requires more focus and new approaches to explore and test what’s next.

    4    Institutions have the capabilities to accelerate society’s path to what’s next, but they’re locked in the straightjacket of what’s now.

    5    Emerging technologies are an exciting and important enabler, but without the human side of innovation, transformation isn’t possible.

    6    Transformation starts when you ‘Shift” your lens to see opportunities from the perspective of customer experience and jobs-to-be-done.

    7    Customer experience provides the best foundation for the ‘Conceptual Design’ of a next practice or new business model.

    8    The only way to know if a design concept will survive customer contact is to ‘Prototype and Test’ it in the real world.

    9    To successfully ‘Commercialize’ next practices and new business models, start with a market-tested Minimum Viable Business Model.

    10   BIF’s Design Methodology helps make transformation safer and easier to manage.

Everyone on Team BIF has contributed to our Design Methodology in countless ways over the years. We wouldn’t be able to share it today without each team member’s amazing effort and without collectively living our BIF value of collaborative innovation. Innovation is a team sport. Special thanks to BIF Experience Designers Crystal June Rome and Kay Zagrodny, who did the hard project work. They immersed themselves into herding passionate inno-cats at BIF, spent countless hours listening to me drone on about the underlying idea, and stayed true to their most recent project experience. Crystal and Kay had just wrapped up an amazing project, working with BIF’s Chief Market Maker, Elizabeth MacLaren. They worked with the Population Health team at Children’s Health in Dallas, prototyping and testing a transformational next practice centered on family well-being. The next practice we helped them develop was then stitched together with the capabilities to deliver an insurance product. A brand new business model is being launched by Children’s Health now in Dallas. Imagine that, a hospital commercializing a new business model that is on the hook to economically improve family well-being. Team BIF rocks!

“At BIF, we believe that social system transformation becomes more possible when we all open source our new approaches, platforms, and tools. That’s how we get better faster together.”

We have also benefited enormously from a growing and engaged community of innovation junkies from around the world who inspire us and help us to get better faster every day. At BIF we believe in enabling random collisions of unusual suspects or making a RCUS! It’s key to finding opportunities between our silos, disciplines, and sectors. I’m grateful for a random collision with XPLANE Co-Founder Dave Gray, and their crazy cool and talented team. XPlane’s superpower is using visualization to help teams align around a shared purpose and story. We leaned heavily on XPlane’s superpower to create this visualization of our BIF Design Methodology, and it won’t be the last time we collaborate.

We share our BIF Design Methodology today to more clearly describe how we help institutional leaders explore and test what’s next. We also share it because at BIF, we believe that social system transformation becomes more possible when we all open source our new approaches, platforms, and tools. That’s how we get better faster together. The 12-month process depicted in BIF’s Design Methodology is intended as a guideline. We always customize it to meet the specific needs and requirements of each client project.

We live in a time that screams for transformation yet too many institutions are only capable of tweaks. We developed BIF’s Design Methodology because a growing number of institutional leaders know they need a better approach to innovation. Together, we can make transformation safer and easier to manage.


Related Slideshow: 50 Wealthiest and Most Influential

GoLocalPDX's 50 Wealthiest and Most Influential in Portland - take a look.

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RANK: 50

Jody Stahancyk

Divorce Attorney

There are few in Portland who know her and don’t have a strong opinion of her.  She is the toughest divorce attorney in the city and there are many an attorney that would rather compete in Mixed Martial Arts than face Stahancyk.

Her reputation is that she is rough and tumble, and for full disclosure she has written a few pieces for GoLocalPDX. Her piece, “In Praise of Nude Selfies: A Portland Grandmother’s Perspective,” shook-up Portland.

Prior to launching her own law firm, she was a prosecutor for Multnomah County and the Attorney General’s office.

She has grown her firm from just one office to offices in Bend, Prineville, Astoria, and Vancouver, Washington.  In addition to her family law practice, she has shared some donations with the likes of Mitt Romney, Ron Wyden, former Congressman David Wu, and Kurt Schrader.

She is not dull.

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RANK: 49

Jamey Hampton

Lumber and Dance

Hampton is a scion of the mega timber family and is the founder of Portland's leading dance company BodyVox.

The juxtaposition is so Portland.

He was born in Portland and began his dance training in the “burgeoning modern dance scene of the early 1970’s.” 

In 1997, Hampton co-founded BodyVox with Ashley Roland.

After he graduated from Dartmouth College, he first joined Pilobolus Dance Theater in 1978, and then went on to dance with Tandy Beal and Company

Beyond dance, Hampton he serves on the board of Pacific Northwest College of Art and the Portland Opera. He is a past board member of Northwest Business for Culture and the Arts, Artists for the Arts, and the Northwest Academy

The family business - Hampton Affiliates — is the fifth largest American Lumber producer.

Photo Credit:  The Creative Exchange 

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RANK: 48

Steven McGeady


Formerly VP at Intel, he became a geek celebrity when he was a witness in the Microsoft antitrust trial. 

As reported, his notes and testimony contained colorful quotes by Microsoft executives threatening to "cut off Netscape's air supply.” In addition, his notes unveiled that “Bill Gates' guess that “’this anti-trust thing will blow over.’” 

The Portland resident was again in the spotlight when he defended his former employee Mike Hawash who had been arrested on federal terrorism charges. 

He served as Chairman of Portland-based ShiftWise for many years - a software firm in the healthcare industry. He has been a strong financial supporter to Democratic candidates including President Barack Obama, U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA).

He previously served as a member of the Reed College Board of Trustees and the PNCA Board of Governors.

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RANK: 47

 Allie Furlotti    


She founded The Calligram Foundation in 2011 in Portland which “directs support to skilled and visionary artists in order that they may focus their time and efforts on their craft.” It is a bit of a game changer.

Calligram’s Fellowships helped five emerging artists elevate and expand their work.  

Furlotti received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Reed College and a MFA from Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design in London.

The Furlotti Family Foundation, which funds some of her initiatives has more that $30 million in assets, but pales in comparison to the main family foundation.

As her grandfather started UPS, her family's philanthropy is legendary - the Annie E. Casey Foundation has assets in excess of $2 billion.

Furlotti could be the emerging voice in the next generation of art in Portland.

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RANK: 46

Kent Holce  

Tech Entrepreneur

Kent Holce is the ultimate entrepreneur. Start a company and build it to be an Inc 500 - then sell it, repeat, repeat.

Holce was co-founder of Veris Industries, an Inc 500 company in the building automation industry, which was acquired by Square D. 

Then, Holce was CEO of Cerus Industrial which designs, manufactures, and distributes energy-saving intelligent motor controls for equipment manufacturers serving HVAC, industrial motor sales and service, and pumping systems markets. The Cerus was acquired by Franklin Electric Co. in August of 2012. 

Now he is principal of Holce Ventures which invests in B2B start-ups. He is also Principal of Senva Inc, an innovative automation sensor company based in Portland, Oregon.

Holce is one of the biggest innovators in the tech space in Portland.

Photo: LinkedIn

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RANK: 45

Barnes Ellis   


Harvard, Stanford, Yale and Exeter are all on his resume, and that was just the early years. Ellis in the 1990’s and first decade of the 2000s was the mega-lawyer in Portland.  He won all the Super Lawyer awards and was involved in just about every deal.

In 2012, he faced his biggest professional fight when he had to defend himself, his law license and his reputation. He was accused of 11 violations of the Oregon State Bar’s code of professional conduct. In 2013, he was cleared on most of the charges, but was sanctioned and received a public reprimand.

For some, it would have been the time to fade away, but not Ellis. He is a leader in the management of Mercy Corps - serving as General Counsel for the $250 million agency.

The former-super lawyer is now a key player working to drive the non-profit international development group that “helps people around the world survive and thrive after conflict, crisis and natural disaster.”

Ten years ago, he might have made the top 10 on this list.

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RANK: 44

Bill Dickey


Dickey is owner of Morel Ink, a print direct mail and promotional product juggernaut. 

He is a player in the non-profit world and a big player in Democratic Politics. Dickey’s printing and direct mail business has transformed from low tech printing to being a high tech targeting media solution.

As a business leader he is not your average capitalist. He has been an active and progressive business leader - supporting initiatives including 'ban the box' and extension of worker’s paid leave.

He too is a big supporter of progressive causes and is a major donor to Basic Rights Oregon, ACLU of Oregon, Oregon Humane Society and the Portland City Club among others. 

As a big time Democratic donor, Dickey has donated upwards of $100,000 to Democratic candidates and the Democratic Party.

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RANK: 43

Mike Hollern

Real Estate Development

One of the big reasons Bend, Oregon is Bend, Oregon is Hollern’s Brook Resources Corporation. The firm is part of the fiber of the region and one of the biggest developers in the state. 

Hollern and his wife Sue are the driving force behind a sweeping array of community organizations both in Bend and in Portland. 

Name the community organization and the Hollerns are either on the board, significant donors or on a committee. 

They are board members of Art in Public Places, members of the advisory board for The Oregon Community Foundation, members of Oregon Commission on Children and Families, and founding board members of Start Making a Reader Today (SMART) to just name a few.

Although Hollern has poured his money primarily into community organizations, he was a financial supporter of Congressman Les AuCoin, but that is functionally where his political dollars started and stopped at the federal level. Those contributions were made back in the day.

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RANK: 42

Harry Merlo    


Merlo built Lousiana Pacific into one of America’s most successful lumber companies in America with a multi-billion valuation.

Then, in the mid-1990’s at the height of the companies growth, Merlo and others were sacked. A combination of law suits and environmental issues hit Merlo and the Company.

The titan of the Lumber industry was out.  But, his involvement in business, politics and the community were racheted up over the past 20 years. Today, he is nearly 90 and is still a look-a-like for Clark Gable and an avid tennis supporter.

His autobiography tracks his birth in poverty to occupying the top of the American corporate food chain.

He transitioned his wealth into a range of businesses and politics. He owned the Timbers for a while and a GoLocalPDX review of Federal Election Campaign documents and data from Open Secret unveils Merlo’s donations to leading Republicans in Oregon and across the country, including former Republican Senate Leader Bob Dole (R-KS), former U.S. Senator Phil Gramm (R-TX) and President George W. Bush.  The total federal donations are in the hundreds of thousands. 

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RANK: 41

Jason Zidell


The Zidell family business was built on industrial development of the waterfront and an significant family fortune was developed.

Their 33-acre undeveloped property is one of the most valuable pieces of real estate in Portland.

Now, after environment remediation, the property and the family have significant options.

They continue to run their core marine-based businesses - barge building.

The Zidell Family Foundation gives out thousands in donations. 

Politically, Jason and the family members in the related businesses have been very politically active making hundreds of political donations to a sweeping array of Republicans and Democrats.

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RANK: 40

Arlene Schnitzer


Arlene Schnitzer is the grand dame of the Portland art community. Schnitzer scored the naming rights to the performing arts center, the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. Her family is a dominating player in almost every aspect of Oregon life - commerce, finance, arts, etc.

Combined, the Harold and Arlene Schnitzer Care Foundation and Arlene and Harold Schnitzerhave given 13 gifts of more than $1 million. The largest was a foundation gift in 2004 for $5.5 million to Oregon Health & Science University.

The last significant gift was to Portland State University in 2013 for $2.3 million.

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RANK: 39

Travis Knight


Travis Knight is the President/CEO of Laika Films. He is a filmmaker, Academy Award nominee, and Emmy Award winner.

Laika’s reputation was spawned with Coraline - an award winning animation film and commercial success. Knight attended Portland State University (see Alumni Award video below). 

Creatively, Knight is known as the man “who brought stop-motion animation into the 21st Century,” as Wired magazine dubbed in a 2014 article. 

Knight was once a rapper and used the name “Chilly Tee.” He is the son of Nike founder Phil Knight.

Knight’s Laika was grounded in the work of Vinton Studios - the breakthrough studio that elevated claymation to an art with the "California Raisin" Clio winning ad campaign. According to an article, “How the Father of Claymation Lost His Company,” the award winning, but cash burning studio was lost to Phil Knight (who had invested heavily in the company) and transformed into Laika.

Knight, in his own right, is readily seen as a leading innovator in animation.  

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RANK: 38

John Hoke


Hoke is the VP of Global Design and the third member of the 50 Wealthiest and Most Influential from Nike. He leads designers all over the world to work on both the Nike and Converse brands.

He serves as a director at Herman Miller and a trustee at Cooper Hewitt. In the community he is board member at  National Design Museum and at the Oregon College of Art & Craft.

As Hoke relayed in a Fast Company interview in 2013: 

Hoke says Nike is institutionally blessed with "supreme clarity" about its mission: to merge performance and beauty in athletic products. Part of what allows Nike to retain this clarity is by not branching out too far, and instead partnering with other companies who might have strengths that Nike can leverage.

Hoke has both form and function responsibilities at Nike in continuing to innovation and profitability. 

He, like CEO Mark Parker #36, is driving this economic-era of success at Nike.

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RANK: 37

Howard Hedinger        


Hedinger has been a business leader in multiple industries for nearly fifty years. He has been a director of Sirena Apparel Group since May 1997. And he was an officer of American Steel for decades.

Hedinger has targeted much of his philanthropy to causes focused on children and animals.

The Hedinger Family Foundation distributed nearly $1.6 million in 2013 - the most recent data available.

He has donated approximately $40,000 to candidates for federal office - these include U.S. Senators Ron Wyden, Bob Packwood, and Gordon Smith over the years.

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RANK: 36

Mark Parker    


Parker is a lifelong Nike employee who worked his way up in the company since 1979, when he started at the New Hampshire facility.

He is Nike’s third CEO. 

The performance of the company has led to some great paydays for Parker earning compensation package in excess of $15 million per year.

As Parker said in March of 2015 relating to Nike's quarterly performance, "The pace of innovation at Nike has never been faster, and our pipeline has never been more robust. [...] Individually and collectively, our product innovation is breaking new ground across all of our categories,” (as reported by Motley).

He has been an outspoken advocate for LGBT rights and inclusion in sports. This week he publicly criticized the “religious freedom” legislation passed in Indiana. Parker is proving to be an activist CEO.

He is an avid art collector in his own right. 

His political donations have been primarily to the Nike PAC.

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RANK: 35

Gerry Frank   


“Eclectic” is how Frank describes himself. For decades, he was a political power in Oregon and Washington, DC, when he served as Chief of Staff for Senator Mark Hatfield (R-OR). In that day, he was called Oregon’s third senator.

Today, he writes quirky travel books, serves as a senior advisor at Aequitas Capital Management, Inc, is the Chairman of Kroc Center for the Salem area, and is on the American Automobile Association (AAA) of Oregon/Idaho

Frank was a target in the 1990 Senate race when Harry Lonsdale attacked Mark Hatfield and Gerry’s relationships with the Savings and Loan crisis.  The race was far closer than expected and while Hatfield won, he never ran again.

Frank writes the 'Frankly Speaking' column in The Oregonian and was a commentator for KPTV-12's 'Good Day, Oregon.' 

His guidebook about New York City, “Where to Find It, Buy It, Eat It in New York,” has sold over one million copies - go figure for a 4th generation Oregonian.

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RANK: 34

Jim Winkler         

Real Estate              

One of the long-time Portland developers. From Mississippi to the Waterfront, Winkler has been in the mix on many of the cities development projects.

Winkler is a fighter who has been in many a scrape over the years, during both the bust and boom real estate periods.

He is a native of Portland - maybe no developer knows the development game any better than Winkler does. 

Winkler is active with his wife Susan in everything from The Portland Art Museum, Cascade AIDS Project to Cedar Sinai Park.

The couple are big time donors to U.S. Senator Ron Wyden.

Photo: Institute for Judaic Studies

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RANK: 33

Melvin “Pete” Mark

Real Estate    

He's no Johnny-come-lately to the real estate development game in Portland. Mark has been a developer for 50 years. He has guided the growth of the Melvin Mark Companies into one of Portland’s largest independently-owned commercial real estate companies. 

He has one of the biggest collections of Presidential artifacts. Correspondingly, he serves as a member of the Oregon Historical Society.

Mark and his family are prolific fundraisers for charities throughout the Portland area. They are among the biggest community fundraisers.

As a political donor, Mark has given more than 100 donations to federal candidate totaling more than $100,000.

photo by William Bragg Photography

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RANK: 32

Debi Coleman


Before there was a discussion of women hitting the glass ceiling in tech, there was Debi Coleman at Apple working in critical roles: Head of Manufacturing and then Chief Financial Officer under Steve Jobs.

Coleman was one of the first women in a major management role in the 1980s at a major tech company.

After Apple, she served as Chairman and CEO of Merix from its spin-off from Tektronix and IPO in 1994 through 2001. 

Previously, she was VP of Materials/Operations for Tektronix. 

More recently, Coleman has been producing major theatrical productions in Oregon and New York.

Debi serves on the boards of Synopsys, Reply.com, the Anita Borg Institute for Women in Technology and the Girl Scouts of Oregon & SW Washington. 

When Coleman was in her early 30’s, Worcester Polytechnic Institute awarded her an honorary degree.  

Editor’s Note: She is an investor in GoLocalPDX.com

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RANK: 31

Truman Collins, Jr.


There are two-heads to the Collins empire. The forest product company, Collins Co, and the Collins Foundation.

The Collins Foundation has over $200 million in assets and distributed nearly $10 million per in 2013 (the most recent available 990 IRS Filing). Truman serves as the President of the Board.

The forestry company is a fifth-generation mega company with nearly $1 billion in sales.  The timber company has a strong commitment to best practices and was the first privately owned forest products company in the United States to become certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. 

The family has been committed to supporting pro-timber politicians. 

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RANK: 30

Steve Wynne


You name it - he started it, lead it or invested in it. Steve Wynne is the founder of the law firm Ater/Wynne, former CEO of Adidas/America during one of its biggest growth periods, and a business consultant. Today he is the #3 guy at Moda Health.

During his run as CEO at Adidas, the company’s sales grew a reported 300%. 

Wynne has one of Portland’s most storied business careers. In addition, he led the sportswear company Fila and serves on the board at Pendleton Woolen Mills

Make no mistake about it, Wynne is one of those “smart guys” that people call before making a major business decision.

Photo credit: www.thesuccessmatrix.com

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RANK: 29

Jim Kelly


Kelly built Rejuvenation into one of the most unique home design companies over the course of 30 years, and in 2011 sold it to Williams-Sonoma for an undisclosed - but believed to be significant - sum. 

Kelly’s core value for his business “model was that the most sustainable building is one that’s already built.”

"Then we built on that idea by manufacturing our own lighting right in Portland. the company originally stated as a salvage store."  Pretty good little business story.

From winning Entrepreneur of the Year to driving a "Made in America" strategy in his company, Kelly has been focused on doing it right. 

At Rejuvenation, the company had partnerships and supported a range of community organizations - groups like P:EAR.

Since the sale of the company, Kelly has become active in politics. He was the chief petitioner in Question 90 - the measure that would have created a top-two system of general election voting. The top two candidates, regardless of political party, would then be voted upon in the general election. The effort gained the support of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The question was defeated.

Kelly has been a political supporter of both U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Markley. 

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RANK: 28

David Vernier


Vernier founded Vernier Software & Technology - one of the leading scientific collection firms.

The company is known for developing “affordable, easy-to-use data-acquisition products (probeware) for science classrooms and labs around the world.”

Vernier’s company is one that walks the walk when it comes to community support. At Vernier’s direction, his firm reimburses employees for over 250 hours of volunteer time in their local schools and community non-profit organizations. The company donates another $400,000 in cash and equipment donations to non-profits annually.

Last year, he and his wife Christine announced they were donating $3.6 million to Portland State University for Scholarships.

The couple is not shy when it comes to politics. Combined, they have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to political campaigns. Once big supporters of David Wu, the Verniers have donated more than $100,000 to Democratic committees and an equal amount to individual candidates like U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley. In addition, they have funneled significant dollars to EMILY’s List and national candidates like John Kerry and Barack Obama for their Presidential bids.

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RANK: 27

Dan Wieden        


Phil Knight may have created the Nike company, but Wieden and his partner David Kennedy are the ones who told everyone about the brand. It was Wieden who created arguably the greatest advertising tagline, “Just Do It.”

He and Kennedy co-founded the iconic firm Wieden + Kennedy that put not only the West Coast, but specifically Portland on the Ad map.

He recently disclosed that the spark for the tagline was a line by murderer Gary Gilmore who was facing execution.

From Ad Age to Inc Magazine to the One Club, he has won almost every award during his career in advertising.  In a city that rejects commercial brands and advertising, Wieden’s firm has created the campaigns for Coke, Honda, Old Spice and Chrysler.

Today, a portion of Wieden’s focus is on supporting Caldera - which started as a summer camp, but now defines itself “as catalyst for the transformation of underserved youth through innovative, year-round art and environmental programs.”

Wieden is a force on the boards of the American Indian College Fund, the Oregon chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and Ecotrust.

Wieden is not the biggest political donor out there. He has only made a couple of political donations. In part, his influence derives from the fact that he may be one of the most innovative creative forces in America today.

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RANK: 26

Al Jubitz


Jubitz is the retired Co-Chairman of Jubitz Corporation. The family made its wealth in businesses related to the trucking industry.

In 2001, the Jubitz family sold the DAT division of their trucking empire to TransCore and created the Jubitz Family Foundation.

In 2012, the Foundation had more than $13 million in assets and gave about 100 donations in the thousands to area non-profits.

The core family business is Jubitz Corp, one of the largest truck stop companies in the U.S. and one of the largest private companies in Oregon.

Jubitz is a major donor and active in Rotary, local and global environmental issues, and children focused non-profits.  His activism has included politics, where he has donated tens of thousands to a range of federal candidates. 

In 2013, the Foundation divested its holdings of all oil, gas, coal, and consumable fuel stocks from its portfolio. 

At the time of the change of investment strategy Jubitz said, “We’re highly concerned about climate change.  We want to do all we can to protect the planet and encourage a shift towards renewable energy.”  

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RANK: 25

Barry Menashe

Real Estate 

Menashe is one of Portland’s biggest real estate magnates. His holding are diverse and significant.

He was quoted in 2006 in an interview in the Daily Journal Commerce of Oregon as saying about his start at the beginning of his career, “I worked night and day, seven days a week. I was very motivated, just to win, and to make money, I guess. But it wasn’t all about money. I loved learning about real estate and I got very good.”

In 2014, he purchased the mammoth glass cube building in Vancouver - 1111 Main Street, for $12.15 million.

Menashe’s real estate holdings are vast and include the 511 Building, the 610 Building, the Carlyle Building and the Wilcox Building, all in downtown Portland, College Square in Gresham, and dozens of others in the region.

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RANK: 24

Ed Tonkin


Tonkin’s business is the very definition of a super dealership. When you own a dealership as diverse as Ferrari, Honda, Toyota, Ducati, Subaru, and Chevrolet just to name a few, you know that you're a mega-company.

The family started with one Chevy dealership in 1960 and now has 21 new car and truck brands.  

Tonkin and his brother Brad have seen good economic times as well as their share of recessions.

He took over the business (with Brad) from their father Ron. Sadly, he passed away last January at 82.

The company has made significant contributions over the years to the Kidney Association, Doernbecher Hospital, the Make-a-Wish Foundation, the United Way, Metropolitan Family Service and the Oregon Schools Foundation.

Tonkin and his family have been major political donors - Ron Tonkin had headed the National Auto Dealers Association and the family has made hundreds of thousands in donations, with the Auto Dealers PAC being a major recipient.

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RANK: 23

Katy Durant

Commercial Real Estate

Katy Durant is arguably one of the most powerful women in commercial real estate in Oregon. Her Atlas Investments is a force and often stealth.

She is one of five and the chair of the Oregon Investment Council. The portfolio has a value of more than $60 billion and Durant has served on the board since 2005.

The Durant and Gordon Sondland foundation is a major philanthropic force in Portland. Their $1 million gift to the Portland Art Museum is among the largest.

Other donations have been targeted to the YMCA, Pioneer Courthouse Square, Oregon Ballet Theater and dozens of others. 

Durant’s politics are all inclusive - donations to President Obama, the Republican National Committee, Gordon Smith, Mitt Romney, Hillary Clinton, and Ron Wyden. 

See her husband, Gordon Sondland, #10.

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RANK: 22

John Bishop


Not many things in Oregon have a legacy that goes back to 1863, but Pendleton does. Thomas Kay, an English weaver, began making woolen products in Oregon and started what is now a sixth-generation company led in part by John Bishop - Chairman of the Board.

Bishop is one of the keepers of the family business and a player in the community. He was President of the Board of the Museum of Contemporary Craft and continues to serve on the Board.

His political donations range form the Republican Party of Oregon to U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) to U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) to U.S. Cong Greg Walden (R-OR).

No photo of John Bishop was available.

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RANK: 21

Frank Foti


Vigor Industrial is on a roll. Foti is growing and expanding the company to be a global player. Earlier this year, Portland Business News named Foti the Manufacturing CEO of the Year, and that designation could have arguably been made by a national business publication.

The former Comcast exec is growing the company both organically and through acquisition. 

The company is now nearly equally balanced between shipbuilding and repair. Vigor now has eight distinct divisions. 

Foti is a major political donor. Like Richard Geary and Phil Knight, Voti is a big-time donor to congressional candidates, political parties and PACs. He has donated more than $100,000 in federal donations.

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RANK: 20

Eric Hoffman


Eric Hoffman is the CEO of Hoffman Construction. The company is far larger than most around town understand - it is the largest construction company in Oregon and the 33rd nationally, according Engineering News-Record's national ranking.

Some of Hoffman’s most notable projects include the $59 million The Nines Hotel, the $95 million Twelve West tower and the Nike HQ expansion. The company makes approximately $2 billion a year in sales.

Eric and his wife Ronna endowed the Ronna and Eric Hoffman Gallery of Contemporary Art at Lewis & Clark College which opened in 1997. This is just one of their vast investments in the community.

Hoffman and his wife focus most of their political dollars towards Republicans like George Bush and Mitt Romney and were strong supporters of former GOP U.S. Senator Gordon Smith and GoLocalPDX MINDSETTER™ Scott Bruun, when he ran for Congress.

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RANK: 19

Win McCormack 

Publisher/Political Activist

There are two sides to McCormack. One side is a publisher/editor of Tin House Books. He has been “involved in publishing Oregon Business, Oregon Home, Travel Oregon, Military History Quarterly, and Art and Auction magazines, and was involved in the start-up of Mother Jones.”

The other side of McCormack is a political activist, fundraiser and donor. 

He has been one of the largest donors to national Democratic causes - his $400,000 to the Democratic’s Majority PAC effort in 2012 was one of the biggest individual gifts. In total, he has donated more than a million dollars to Democratic efforts.

In the community, he serves on the Oregon Council for the Humanities, the Oregon Tourism Commission, and the Board of Overseers at Emerson College.

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RANK: 18

Steve Janik


Lawyer, business confidant, and insider in the political game, Steve Janik is a founding partner of Ball Janik LLP

His principal areas of practice are real estate development and finance with an emphasis on large, high-profile projects.  

He became Governor John Kitzhaber’s attorney to fight the ethics complaint in January, and GoLocalPDX unveiled "the firm Ball Janik has a long political reach to Washington DC and markets itself as being influential in government relations in Portland, Salem, and DC."

"The Ball Janik firm is tied to hundreds of thousands of dollars of state contracts that were awarded to the firm during the Kitzhaber Administration. According to a GoLocalPDX review of state documents, the law firm that now represents Kitzhaber and Hayes has been awarded contracts or is presently under contract to the state of Oregon for legal and lobbying work including federal lobbying for the State of Oregon in Washington, DC.”

Janik resigned as Kitzhaber’s attorney when the former Governor’s legal problems extended to a state and federal probe.

He makes all of the Super Lawyer lists and has earned not one or two degrees from Harvard, but three.

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RANK: 17

Charles “Butch” Swindells


Swindells has lived one of those lives - major finance, top fundraiser to President George Bush, Ambassador, and top position on top boards.

His list of accomplishments are nearly unmatched. 

In announcing his appointment in 2001, President Bush said, "As a leader in the financial services industry and a well respected community leader from the Pacific Northwest, Butch Swindells will be an asset to the fine relationship between the United States and New Zealand."

He today he is a senior advisor to Bessemer Trust and serves on the Board at Swift Energy and Greenbrier Companies

The only blemish on his record is when he left his firm Capital Consultants, and his former law school roommate and business partner Jeffrey Grayson was investigated by the SEC and then convicted of mail fraud.

Previously, Swindells served on the Oregon Investment Council, chaired the Board at Lewis and Clark and served on the Oregon Public Broadcasting board.
In the world of politics, Swindells has been a major GOP fundraiser and donor in the Pacific Northwest. 

He has donated hundreds of thousands to U.S. Senator David Vitter (R-LA), George Bush, and Mitt Romney, to name just a few. Please note- he has found a few dollars for Oregon Democratic Senator Ron Wyden, too.

For decades, He has played at the highest levels of finance, politics and philanthropy.

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RANK: 16

Jordan Schnitzer

Real Estate Management

Schnitzer was born into one of the most famous Portland families and he has become a force in development and art in his own right.

As Harsh told “Knowledge Leader,” a global real estate publication, "My professional career started when I was 14, as a janitor working at an apartment project in Portland. I vacuumed floors, watered the plants and worked in the boiler room," Schnitzer recalls. "I started, in essence, on the factory floor."

Today he is the president of of Harsch Investment Properties, the Portland-based real estate development firm started by his father Harold in 1950. 

According to Schnitzer, "company and two family foundations donate between $5 and $10 million each year to various cultural, educational, social service and medical charities.”

In 2002, Schitzer donated $1 million to Portland State University according to The Million Dollar List.

His impact in the arts community is sweeping- not just in Oregon, but around the country. “So far, we have sponsored more than 80 major exhibitions curated solely from our collections, which now exceed 8,000 works. We are honored that these exhibitions have traveled to over 75 museums both large and small throughout the country and internationally,” Harsh told Sotheby’s last year.

Politically, Schnitzer is not shy. He has given over $100,000 split almost equally between Democratic and Republican candidates and political parties.

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RANK: 15

Mark Edlen


Let’s start with the number $5 Billion. That is how much Elden’s firm has developed in sustainable development projects. The 60 projects are in Portland and across the country.

He leads the highly acclaimed Gerding Elden real estate investment firm. His expertise and success is diverse in commercial real estate development - mixed-use commercial, residential, educational, and retail developments. 

He is the epitome of a Portland developer - he is known for saying that cities are the solutions for a growing population.

In 2014, he scored a major development deal in Chinatown with the City of Portland and later was appointed by Mayor Charlie Hales to serve on the Portland Development Commission.

Earlier this year, the firm announced it was raising $350 million in new equity, according to the Portland Business Journal.

Edlen co-founded the firm with Bob Gerding, who died in 2009. 

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RANK: 14

Peter Stott     


Stott is the CEO of Columbia Investment and a major funder for PSU. Previously, he was Principal and Vice Chairman of ScanlanKemperBard Companies from 2005 to 2010 and served as Chief Executive Officer from 2008 to 2010. 

His corporate boards include Gerding Edlen and Con-way, Inc.

He has been active beyond his leadership as a donor and trustee at Portland State University, serving on the Portland Art Museum, and SOLVE.

In 2013, he won one of America’s most interesting business awards, The Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, “honoring the achievements of outstanding individuals and encouraging youth to pursue their dreams through higher education.” 

How big a donor is Stott to PSU? - the 1,700 seat athletic center is named after him. 

In politics, Stott joined Andrew Miller in the effort in 2009 to recall Sam Adams, according to Willamette Week. Their effort failed.

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RANK: 13

Vanessa Sturgeon

Real Estate Developer

Sturgeon is Portland’s rising business rock star. She is the granddaughter of movie theater mogul turned developer Thomas Moyer and she is now the driving force behind TMT Development.

If you want to get an idea of the type of real estate she manages, just look her up as her company owns a number of the tallest buildings in Portland -  1000 Broadway Building, Fox Tower and the yet to be completed Park Avenue West Tower.

How big of a project is the Park Avenue West Tower?  

Park Avenue West Tower will be a 30-story, 546,000 square foot mixed-use development. It is Portland first BIG building in years downtown. The on again tower will include 13 stories of Class A office space and 15 floors of residential units.

The project was originally planned prior to the great recession and was brought back to life with the economic recovery.

Her emergence as the leader of TMT only took place after a battle over the empire - the Oregonian titled their coverage, “Family of Portland real estate developer Tom Moyer locked in bitter, multimillion dollar feud.”

Since she emerged as the leader of TMT, she has won nearly all of the women’s business awards including - Portland Business Alliance's "A Place with No Ceiling Award" for her dedication to supporting and mentoring women, the Daily Journal of Commerce "Newsmakers of the Year," and the Daily Journal of Commerce "Women of Vision" Award.

Could this project be the beginning of a series of major upward builds by Sturgeon and her team? 

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RANK: 12

Mark Reser    


Mark Reser is the President of Resers Fine Foods. The Beaverton-based family business is one of Oregon's largest companies and a growing national food brand.

Recently, the company announced they were re-signing to sponsor Joe Gibbs Racing Teams’ driver Matt Kenseth in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. 

The company was founded by Mildred and Earl Reser (Mark Reser’s grandparents) in 1950, originally as just a potato salad company, and has grown to hundreds of products.

Reser originally joined the company as a route salesperson in 1988 and has been with company ever since.

The Reser Family Foundation has assets of more than $17.6 million according to the 2013 990 form filed with the IRS. The foundation gave out nearly 100 donations.
In 2014, the company announced that it was building a new 315,000 square foot facility in Hillsboro to meet demands of the company - as of last month the company was still trying to gain approvals.

Today, the company has 16 facilities across the US and Mexico and reports 4,800 employees.

The toughest period for the company was in 2012 when it was hit by a string of recalls tied to listeria.

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RANK: 11

Rick Miller


Rick Miller is the founder and now Chairman of the Board of Avamere Senior Health Care Services. 

The company started with the acquisition of a single skilled nursing facility in Hillsboro. He led the company as CEO until 2012. In 2011, his sale-lease back deal for Avamere was worth over $80 million. 

Miller has been wildly active in the community and Republican politics. From his role at Portland State University as a trustee to leadership roles in government in Lake Oswego to serving on the Oregon Health Care Association board - he has been involved at every level. 

In GOP circles he continues to be active. He gave $100,000 to the Oregon Transformation Project and $75,000 to Chris Dudley’s Gubernatorial campaign. And at the federal level he has donated more than $201,000 to candidates as diverse as Barack Obama ($2,300) to US Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) to U.S. Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) to Monica Wehby’s campaign for Senate.

He made news when he and his wife rehabbed one of the areas most ornate homes - the Jantzen Mansion in Lake Oswego. 

Most recently, he co-founded the private equity firm, Rogue Venture Partners. The firm is self-described as investing “primarily in Oregon based entrepreneurs and early stage businesses with funding and mentorship.”

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RANK: 10

Gordon Sondland

Provenance Hotels

If you like a “cool hotel” Sondland has a number of options for you. He is the force behind the recreation of the Governor Hotel into the Sentinel, the de Luxe and the Hotel Lucia and five other West Coast boutique Hotels. Sondland is a constant in the development and hospitality community in Portland.

Equally, Sondland has been a leading critic of plans to build a Convention Center Hotel - as he claims the government funded option will be a bust and an unfair competitor.

His investment in Portland extends from philanthropy to politics. He and his equally powerful wife - Katy Durant - are major donors to many of the cities top non-profits.

Unlike Durant who supports both parties, Sondland is a big backer of the GOP with Monica Wehby, Gordon Smith, former Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, and Mitt Romney all receiving financial support. Do note that he has given to Democrat Ron Wyden too, for every rule needs an exception.

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Greg/Mark Goodman    

Real Estate Development                 

The Goodmans have made millions (maybe the B-word) in the parking business and leveraged that wealth into real estate development. 

The second-generation Goodman brothers control much of the city’s most valuable real estate - The Union Bank of California Tower, The Public Service Building, Twelve West and Indigo Apartments, and dozens or other holdings. 

What is the value of the portfolio? 

Combined value is in the hundreds of millions.

If the Monopoly game was recreated for Portland - the Goodmans might win the game.

Accordingly, they are no stranger to politics as the Goodmans have donated tens of thousands to both Democrats and Republicans, but their most recent federal donations have been primarily to U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR). 

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Gert Boyle


Make no mistake about it, Gert Boyle is the force behind Columbia Sportswear. She has won nearly every possible business award in the state and has been recognized with many national awards for being a prominent female business leader.

She rocked Oregon with an anonymous gift to the Knight challenge. Her $100 million gift was unveiled by Willamette Week against her wishes.

“She is one tough mother. At least that’s how Gert Boyle, chairman of the Columbia Sportswear company, based in Portland, Ore., is known throughout the Northwest,” as the Chronicle of Philanthropy wrote this past February.

Most know the amazing story of how Gert Boyle and her family escaped Germany and the Nazis (her grandmother died in a concentration camp). 

She took over the struggling and small company when her husband died, and through smarts and force of will she and the family built Columbia into a billion dollar company.

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Janet Geary        


Geary is a premier philanthropist of fine and performing arts in Portland, the Northwest and in Washington, D.C. The Richard and Janet Geary Foundation is a major funder of nearly every arts or children’s organization in the region.

Richard Geary, Janet’s husband, ran Kiewit Pacific Company — the company is a multi-billion construction and engineering company headquartered in Nebraska. In her own right, she launched her own business - becoming a partner in Bingham & Geary, Ltd., a design showroom of antiques and fine furnishings located in Portland.

Her leadership in the arts lead to an appointment on the Kennedy Center National Committee for the Arts by President George W. Bush.

The Gearys have donated hundreds of thousand to top GOP powers over the past two decades.  Most recently, Speaker of the House John Boehner ($5,000 in 2014) and upwards of $20,000 over the past few election cycles to Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR). 

The Oregon Symphony, Portland Art Museum, Portland State University, Renaissance School of Arts and Sciences, George Bush Presidential Center, and dozens of other organizations have received substantial financial support from Geary in recent years.

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Robert Pamplin, Jr.    


Pamplin is part old school industrialist, part newspaper publisher and part philanthropist.  Best known for owning the “other paper,” his assets are widely diverse and very substantive.

More than a decade ago, he made Forbes 400 List of wealthiest Americans, but has not returned to the list since.

His ten-page resume is unique in a city where most of the wealthy try to fly under the radar.  

He is maybe the very definition of a Renaissance man - a fitness guru, historian and entrepreneur. Pamplin is often the target of critics from the weekly alternative paper Willamette Week, owned by Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum’s husband, Richard Meeker.

The Pamplin holdings include: Columbia Empire Farms, Mount Vernon Mills in South Carolina and Ross Island Sand & Gravel Co.

Pamplin’s Foundation has more than $56 million in assets according to recently available public information

Pamplin’s newspaper group owns 25 community newspapers including the twice weekly Portland Tribune. 

Despite his ownership in newspapers, Pamplin is a major donor to politicians. He has made hundreds of donations to everyone from President George Bush to former NY City Mayor Rudy Giuliani to U.S. Senator Strom Thurmond (R-SC) and discredited former Oregon Congressman David Wu.

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Andrew Miller    


Miller is a major force in business and is one of the state’s top Republican donors. In the past few years, he has updated his engagement in putting his money where his beliefs are and becoming the state’s most proactive GOP donor. He is the CEO of Stimson Lumber - one of Oregon’s largest private companies.

Miller has been flagged by the Oregonian and Willamette Week for his support of GOP candidates.

How influential has Miller become in politics in Oregon and nationally?

According to Federal Election Campaign committee reports, Miller has donated more than $250,000 to federal candidates and PACs including $10,000 to the Republican Party of Idaho, approximately $100,000 to the National Republican Campaign Committee, $10,000 to the Oklahoma Leadership Council, and $35,000 to the “If He Votes Like That in Salem” committee (a pro-Webhy and anti State Rep. Jason Conger PAC).

Chris Dudley, the GOP candidate for Governor in 2010, who narrowly lost to John Kitzhaber, received over $500,000 from Stimson Lumber.

“Miller made a big splash in Oregon politics last year when the Oregon Transformation Project, which Miller and his company pumped nearly $650,000 into, shifted the balance of Clackamas County by backing successful campaigns by John Ludlow and Tootie Smith for positions on the county board of commissioners,” reported the Oregonian back in 2013.

Miller’s ties to U.S. Senate candidate Monica Wehby made global news when as the UK’s DailyMail reported, “On Friday, a separate police report had showed Wehby's former boyfriend, Andrew Miller, called police last year reporting that she was stalking him and harassing his former employees."

Miller later funded a super PAC attacking Wehby's Republican primary opponent, Jason Conger, and said he regretted calling police.”

In an increasingly consolidated industry, Stimson has grown aggressively by acquisition and they have consumed assets from Champion International, Plum Creek Timber Company, and Idaho Forest Industries. 

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Bill Furman

Greenbrier Co.

Furman is the trifecta at Greenbrier - Chairman of the Board, President and CEO. The company's investment in Furman is paying off for everyone, as the company had a record financial performance in 2014. Heck, he took the company from a handful of employees to a national transportation manufacturing power over the past few decades.

How good is good? Sales climbed to $2.2 billion, up 26% year-over-year.

Furman received a salary and bonus $5.3 million for all of his good work.

He leads a company focused on manufacturing things that move stuff - they build railcars and barges.  Much of America moves on Greenbrier products. In the first quarter of 2015, Furman announced Greenbrier had signed over a billion dollars in new rail car orders. Not a record for the company, but a huge increase over the same time last year.

Furman is a power in the shipping and transportation world nationally, and he is a major political giver to both Democrats and Republicans ranging from GOP Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and retired Ted Stevens (R-AK) to the polar opposite sphere of Democrats like Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley and discredited Democratic Congressman David Wu. In total, he has given hundreds of thousands to both political parties and candidates.

The family’s Joyce N. Furman Memorial Trust - named after his wife - has donated millions to causes ranging from New Avenues for Youth to the Pongo Fund. One of the largest gifts was a 2011 gift of $2 million to the University of Oregon. 

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Stephen Babson

Endeavor Capital

Stephen Babson was known as a lawyer’s lawyer when he ran Stoel Rives LLP, then transitioned to Endeavour in 2002. 

Babson is known to have the “golden touch”, as one investment banker told GoLocalPDX. He serves on a plethora of Boards, including ESCO Corporation, ZoomCare, USNR, New Seasons Market, Bristol Farms, Vigor Industrial, Genesis Financial Solutions, and Metropolitan Market and was previously a director of WinCo Foods, Northwest Hotel Group, Columbus Foods, Tidewater Holdings, Little Red Services, National Frozen Foods and Northland Transportation — all Endeavor investments.

He also serves on the boards of Columbia Sportswear Company and Pendleton Woolen Mills. 

In the land of Democrats, he is a big-time GOP donor in Oregon, Washington state, and nationally.  From Monica Webhy to Gordon Smith to Mitt Romney - they all had his number on speed dial.

He has a B.A. from Stanford University, a J.D. from Stanford Law School and an M.B.A. from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

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Tim Boyle

CEO Columbia Sportswear

Not too many college seniors get thrown into running a small company during their final year of undergrad, but Tim Boyle had to help try and rescue Columbia Sportswear when his father died of a heart attack while he was in his last year at the University of Oregon.

He and his mother (Gert) resuscitated the company and over the past 40 years have built it into a global brand.

How hot is the company now?  In 2014, net sales increased $415.6 million, or 25 percent, to a record $2.1 billion. And, net income increased 45 percent to $137.2 million.

Forbes ranks Tim Boyle at the 418th richest American worth $1.7 billion.

He and his wife Mary gave the University of Oregon $5 million in 2007. Boyle is another GOP Romney supporter for President, but shares the wealth by donating to Democrats and Republicans for Congress. As an example, he has given US Senators (Bob Packwood (R), Gordon Smith (R), Ron Wyden (D), and Jeff Merkley (D) tens of thousands in campaign donations. 

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Phil Knight


Phil Knight is the 800 pound gorilla in Beaverton. He has transformed sportswear and its intersection with design, performance and fitness in the US and the world.

As Forbes writes, “Fifty years after first selling running shoes out of the trunk of his car, Phil Knight is now peddling sportswear in nearly every country on the planet, racking up record revenues and profits.”

In 2013, Phil and his wife Penny pledged $500 million to kick-towards a $1 billion cancer research initiative at Oregon Health & Science University. It is by far the biggest and boldest philanthropy in the state's history.

To date the fund has raised over $460 million.

He ranks #25 on Forbes’ global list of billionaires and has a net work of $21.5 billion.

Knight and Nike are synonymous with success, but Knight put challenges into perspective with his 2014 Stanford Commencement speech. “So there I am, 34 years old, married, a 3-year-old son, 80 percent mortgage on my house, 45 employees, a personal guarantee of a $750,000 company loan, inventory growing more obsolete by the day, and no new product to sell.” 

To put it mildly, Knight overcame those challenges.

Knight is a big GOP donor, with both he and Penny giving generously to the likes of Mitt Romney and just about everyone else with an "R" after their name.


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