The Ground Floor

Roguecreamery.com

The Rogue Valley is generally known for its sweet and juicy agricultural products: pears for eating and grapes for making wine. 

But the dairy industry is rising in stature, thanks in part to the work of the Rogue Creamery

Owner David Gremmels bought an established business and added his own distinctive stamp.  What IS in the Caveman Blue Cheese?  These and other questions are revealed in this month's edition of The Ground Floor, about entrepreneurs and their work. 

flowjo.com

Fans of track and field perk up at the mention of "FloJo."  The late Florence Griffith-Joyner's records in the 100 and 200 meter races still stand. 

But FlowJo, based in Ashland, is a different entity entirely.  We get to hear how different, in this month's edition of The Ground Floor, our business segment. 

FlowJo is in the flow cytometry business, helping biology researchers work with single cells with the use of lasers and computers.  Mike Stadnisky is the CEO of the company, now a subsidiary of a larger firm. 

Micro-Trains

They are not the primary way we get around the country anymore, but Americans still have a love for trains.  The proof is in a modest factory in the small city of Talent.  The factory houses Micro-Trains, the highly regarded maker of model railroad trains, tracks, and accessories. 

"Micro" is not a play on words; the company makes trains in N and Z gauges, smaller than the better-known HO. 

How it got started and why it's still in the Rogue Valley is the story of this month's edition of The Ground Floor.  Eric Smith is the boss now, having succeeded his father-in-law at the helm (throttle?) of the company. 

bellhardware.com

The official name is still "Bell Hardware," but it's not the kind of business where you go buy a screwdriver. 

This third-generation business is now focused primarily on doors and frames and other components of getting people into commercial buildings... or keeping them out. 

John Bell is the grandson of the company founder, and Bell Hardware, still based in Klamath Falls, has outlets from Portland to Redding. 

garywest.com

Things are humming these days at Gary West Meats in Jacksonville. 

It is a true "fourth-quarter" business, making most of its sales and money around Christmas. 

Gary West himself is out of the picture now, but his daughter Whitney Murdoch and her husband Paul keep the business going, providing all manner of meats to happy carnivores. 

We learn more about the business in our monthly chat with entrepreneurs and their followers, The Ground Floor. 

darex.com

Every place where people work started with an idea.  And the people who come up with ideas about businesses are studied and lauded in our society. 

We begin a new regular feature on The Exchange, "The Ground Floor," visiting with entrepreneurs in our region about how they got started and how they overcame obstacles. 

Up first: Matthew Bernard, the current CEO of Darex, the Ashland-based maker of sharpening equipment.  He is the fourth generation involved in the running of the company.