Monday, November 16, 2009

Nov. 16, 2009 - Utah Business; Entrepreneur Edge: Ready, Set, Rent

Considerations Before Wearing the Landlord Hat

by David Kennard

SALT LAKE CITY -- Falling home prices may have many thinking opportunity, but investors considering the rental market should proceed cautiously, according to some local experts.

Danny Gutierrez, a realtor with TruNet Real Estate LLC in Salt Lake and a landlord, says he sold nearly all of his rental homes when "the market was tanking."

Like many rental property owners, Gutierrez witnessed the simple principle of supply and demand; as more rental homes became available, landlords needed to lower their rates to stay competitive.

As real estate prices have dropped, however, rental investments have become attractive.

"Investors have come into the market and snatched up deals over the last year," says Andrew Oliverson, director of REO (real estate owned- property that goes back to the mortgage company after an unsuccessful foreclosure auction) sales at Green River Capital LC in Salt Lake."

While at the time the prices were good, we believe (and national contacts have advised) that we are in for a second, larger, more sustained surge of REOs.

"Buy Low, Rent High

As in any investment, rental properties can be more profitable if the initial investment can be kept as low as possible. Like owner-occupants, investment buyers should consider properties with a low cost per square foot and location, location, location.

"Think about where tenants want to be," Gutierrez says. "If you are the cheapest house in the area, you are always going to be able to rent it."

There are no real secrets to finding a low purchase price, Gutierrez says, but he has bought more than 50 homes at foreclosure auctions.

"The downside to buying homes that way is you rarely have time to do a walk through and you usually have to pay cash within 24 hours of winning the auction," Gutierrez says.

Homes going to auction can be found through legal notices published in local newspapers or online at

Realtors who specialized in bank-owned or REO properties can also help you locate rental properties. Realtors often know when a bank-owned property is about to go on the market and can help investors make an appropriate offer. And if the timing is right, sometimes a deal can be struck before the listing hits the Multiple Listing Service.

Buried in Maintenance

One of the hidden costs to rental properties is what many property managers call deferred maintenance. Manufacturers know that postponing equipment maintenance to reduce costs often leads to much higher costs down the road.

Investors should look at their properties the same way, Gutierrez says. Landlords are usually in the business for the long term and want to have homes that will provide a good return for more than the first few months. So, landlords should also be responsive if a problem with a property arises.

A quick response to a tenant's call can mean the difference between a $20 dollar leaky faucet and a $2,000 bathroom floor replacement. Landlords should be willing to do handyman-type work, or have a budget for repairs when they need to be done. And owning a rental property in Utah also means having seasonal tasks such as lawn care and furnace and air conditioning maintenance.

Finally, like any owner, rental properties should be inspected before any leases are sold.

The Lease Document

The document you use to enter into an agreement with a renter serves as a full-disclosure tool between you and your tenant. It can be as specific or vague as you like, but remember that you both will sign the document with the full intention of honoring the agreement.

The lease should include an outline of who pays for what utilities, who is responsible for lawn care, when the rent is due, and how much you will charge for a late payment or bad check.

It should also include a detailed list of things that the renter is responsible to do to the home before moving out, such as cleaning and repairs, and what the fee will be if those tasks are not done.

The Long Run

Turning your home into a rental property may be a viable option to selling at a loss, but if you become a landlord with the intention of making a large profit, you need to commit at least five years to your new investment.

After some calculations—which should include taxes, insurance and maintenance costs, as well as a value for your own time—you might find that your profit margin isn’t as great as you originally hoped. If it is, you may have what it takes.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Oct. 1, 2009 - Utah Business: From the Editor

There used to be a day when the only colors that mattered to business owners were red and black. Balance sheets with lots of the latter were a good thing.

Welcome to the 21st century, where green is the new black.

Businesses across Utah are finding that a little investment in what we are now calling green technologies is paying off in the long run.

Those last few words, "in the long run," are the most important part of that last statement.

Jody Good, a principal at Spectrum Engineers in Sal Lake, gets excited when he gets a call from somebody interested in lighting. Good is one of Utah Business magazine’s Green Pioneers. He’s been finding ways to economically illuminate buildings for more than 20 years.

He’ll tell you that his greatest rewards are seeing his life’s work incorporated into local building codes and legislation. Next time you walk into a room or hallway and a light pops on, you’ll know that Good’s work with motion sensors is paying off.

And he is happy to share that payoff with anyone willing to listen. Good is quick to point out that up-front costs for most green initiatives are almost always higher than traditional high-energy use projects. But builders interested in saving money down tht road would be wise to adopt a green mind set.

The resurgence of all this green talk came coincidentally with out nation’s new economic hardships.

Depending on who you talk to, the recent recession isn’t over. But there is no arguing that today’s green wave struck as fuel and other energy prices began climbing a couple of years ago.

An industry that lay somewhat dormant since themed-1970s, green is making ground again as manufacturers realize it makes economic sense to reduce the overhead created by natural resource consumption.

Those in the service industry also discovered that simply turning off the lights when they are not in use can save money – sometimes enough to retain jobs.

Sure, theses are basic principles but now they’re mainstream too, so mainstream that these principles are even taught to future business leaders at local colleges.

Weber State’s MBA program, for example, has a full class of students learning how sustainability is a vital part of running a business.

In the next few years, we can expect to see green ideas take even greater hold in meaningful ways, as businesses learn that there is money to be saved and made by investing in simple technologies.

From the Executive Editor
David Kennard

Oct. 1, 2009 - Utah Business

Utah Green Business Awards: Celebrating Utah's Greenest Companies, Communities and People

by Linda Kennedy and David Kennard

If environmental pioneers from 150 years ago knew about Utah Business magazine's first Utah Green Business awards, they might say it is an event long overdue. That's because the history of considering our relationship to the planet reaches far back -- all the way to the Industrial Revolution's wave of mining, forest clearings and factory risings.

Writer Henry David Thoreau published "Walden" in 1854 to describe the harmony that humans can experience with nature. And John Muir, naturalist and writer, founded the Sierra Club in 1892.

A green tradition continued into the 1960s, when public awareness developed over the idea that humans were damaging the environment. Shortly after, the Kennedy Administration's investigation of the chemical industry brought bans on the insecticide DDT and corporate environmentalism and mandatory regulations emerged.

Though there's a long history of sustainable practices, today's view toward the environment has turned a deeper shade of green, with more and more people, companies and communities adopting environmentally friendly policies and preparing to go green for the long haul. Utah Business is proud to present our first Utah Green Business award honorees. Selected from numerous nominations by Utah Business editors and an independent judging panel, these honorees represent Utah's green leaders who based their practices on sustainability long before eco became a buzz word.

Join us in recognizing their accomplishments for doing business that acts in behalf of the planet and its inhabitants.


Xanterra Parks and Resorts: Talk about working under a spotlight. Xanterra Parks and Resorts has found ways to make visitors to Zion National Park enjoy and take part in the preservation of our natural resources. The company uses programs and innovations to enhance visits to the national park and to help the delicate environment in real ways. Some of the most impressive results have taken place at Zion Lodge where, since 2003, water usage has been reduced by 47 percent and solid waste headed to the landfill has been reduced by 32 percent. This is just a part of the environmental management system that also saw major reductions in the use of gasoline and propane. Guests who stay in the Ecologix Suites find biodegradable soaps, organic linens, filtered drinking water and a number of other sustainable features. Just this year, the Zion Lodge halted the sale of bottled water to reduce the amount of plastic entering the waste stream. Guests are now encouraged to purchase reusable plastic bottles and fill them at a water filling station. David Perkins, regional environmental director, says the re-education program has eliminated the sale of 30,000 bottles of bottled water so far this year. "Much of what has been accomplished is the result of programs and initiatives that have directly affected energy, water and fuel usage," Perkins says.

SRI Surgical: SRI Surgical believes that recycling is worthwhile, but the ultimate goal is to avoid creating waste material in the first place. Through reprocessing surgical linens and instruments based upon efficient water management, energy saving strategies, environmentally friendly chemicals and a sterilization approach that is the least harmful to humans, SRI Surgical helps reduce medical waste by providing reusable alternatives to disposable surgical products. Since 2000, SRI Surgical clients have reduced medical waste in the amount of more than 120 million pounds of disposable gowns, back table covers, mayo stand covers and drapes utilizing SRI Surgical reusable products. Also, clients have avoided adding nearly 45 million pounds of packaging waste to the national waste stream. Rich Baron, plant manager at SRI Surgical's Salt Lake City facility says though, that eliminating medical waste in the landfills not only helps SRI Surgical's clients; it has a positive impact on everyone in Utah. "Our goal is to continue to provide products and services that will have a positive impact on the wastestream." In May, SRI Surgical received Practice Greenhealth's Champion for Change award, which recognizes business' accomplishments in "greening" their own organization; waste prevention, recycling programs, reuse of office and shipping materials are a company focus at SRI Surgical's corporate facility and reprocessing plants.


Boeing Salt Lake City: The employees at Boeing Salt Lake City have watched proudly as their efforts continue to receive honors in the area of environmental management systems. In the last year, the company has done everything from replacing high-energy light bulbs to drastically reducing the amount of waste it sends to landfills. This year alone, the company has recycled more than 15 tons of cardboard, many tons of plastic, and several thousand pounds of wooden pallets and skids. And as a part of the recycling and waste reduction efforts, Boeing Salt Lake City is the first Boeing manufacturing facility to achieve zero-waste to landfill use. "We are pleased to see the efforts of this hard-working, cross-functional Green team being recognized," says Doug Dahl, site leader of the Salt Lake City facility. "The team is comprised of talented people whose innovations are creating continuous improvement that is beneficial to the company and the environment." In 2008, the fabrication manufacturing facility was awarded an ISO 14001 environmental management system certification from Det Norske Veritas, an accredited certification body of quality, environmental and safety management systems. The certification shows that the company has in place a system to monitor, manage and continuously improve its environmental management system. "Achieving certification is a tremendous achievement and an important milestone by our employees in reducing environmental impacts and preserving precious resources. Working together, as a responsible corporate citizen and neighbor, we are focused on reducing energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, pollution and waste at our facilities," says Dave Moe, director of Boeing Salt Lake City and Auburn site.

Marriott Mountainside: A green mindset has helped Marriott's MountainSide in Park City make significant strides toward reducing its environmental footprint, and Jim Marks, general manager, says he hopes to lead the way for Park City resorts and hotels to do the same. The resort's green initiative, launched in 2008, has helped changed the attitude among employees and guests alike. A green committee formed two years ago ushered in programs such as property-wide recycling and the reduction of inter-office paper. Energy consumption has been reduced by 75 percent thanks to replacing incandescent light bulbs with CFL bulbs throughout the property and installing better insulation on pipes supplying hot water system for the pool and hot tubs. Other resort green initiatives include transitioning to green cleaning supplies and donating used blankets and linens to local shelters and programs. In the coming year, Marriott's MountainSide will refurbish its 182 two-bedroom, two-bathroom villas with low-flow showerheads and toilets and Energy Star appliances -- which will include 150 refrigerators, ovens and dishwashers. Used furniture and materials involved in the project will also be recycled.


Joseph M. "Jody" Good: Since the mid-1970s, Joseph M. "Jody" Good has dedicated himself to how we use light. The principal lighting designer with Spectrum Engineers says his greatest rewards are seeing his work adopted by and incorporated into common practice and standards, especially in the building industry. He has overseen products designed to save energy including one of the first photocell controls for incandescent lights -- that sensor outside your home that turns off your exterior lights when the sun comes up. Good was on the ground floor of developing a time clock that controls light astronomically and he worked to develop architectural preset lighting systems that save energy in hotel lobbies and restaurants. Good's commitment to the smart use of light often translates into lower long-range costs to property owners. "In addition to designing energy-efficient devices, he advocates and conducts energy models for and designs systems that use daylighting, light harvesting, occupancy sensors, dimming and building-wide controls, long-life fixtures and dimming systems that extend lamp life," says Jackie McGill at Spectrum. "At the end of the day, an energy efficient building costs less to own," Good says. Good also is an advocate of reducing light pollution of the night sky. As a member of the International Dark Skies Association, he promotes methods such as down-lighting and timed lighting to maintaining safe night lighting while reducing the amount of light that escapes into the night sky.

Cliff Nowell, Shane Schvaneveldt, Therese Grijalva and David Malone: When fall classes began at Weber State University this year, university students working toward their MBA degree began a first-of-its-kind curriculum targeting environmental sustainability as it relates to the business world. Professors Cliff Nowell, Shane Schvaneveldt, Therese Grijalva and David Malone began developing the idea about eight years ago with the goal of adding value to the school’s MBA program. "The final course of the curriculum is a project-based, practicum course designed to assist regional firms in their plans to become more efficient in their use of resources and as stewards of Utah’s natural assets," says Lewis R. Gale, the dean of the John B. Goddard School of Business and Economics, adding that new executives armed with a background in environmental sustainability are valuable in today's job market. "Not only is it relevant and current," he says. "But many will go on to implement practices in business." When course work is complete this spring, the students will be the first to bring their environmental skills into the workplace.


The Green Sprouts category recognizes small businesses making outstanding strides toward improving the earth.

Bambara: Bambara is doing more than serving up good eats; the Salt Lake-based restaurant is becoming a sustainability leader in the dining industry—every detail, including using the most efficient Ecolab dishwashing machine with green soaps and sanitizers, is being incorporated into the restaurant's operations. The diner's experience, though, begins with using menus printed on recycled paper with soy-based ink, drinking organic teas, coffee and wines, and eating food from local farms, ranches and fisheries that are guided by environmentally friendly principles. Leftover food is placed in recycled sugarcane fiber containers and disposable utensils are made of corn starch. The fryer oil is recycled into bio-diesel and other products and scraps go to composting. "Eventually we hope that, along with our strong community partners, we can create an overall awareness that this isn’t just something that could be done or would be nice to do," says Art Cazares, Bambara general manager.

Rico Brand: In less than a year, Rico Brand has diverted approximately 58 tons of green waste and more than 3 tons of mixed recyclables away from landfills. About 500 pounds of used fry oil and meat scraps are diverted to Renegade oil, a local rendering and processing facility. And a cardboard compactor recycles approximately 30 tons of cardboard annually. But Rico Brand's efforts are not solely related to food; the 12-year-old company is housed in a retrofitted warehouse and uses low energy lighting. This year, Rico Brand gained Salt Lake City e2 business certification. "My goal is to eventually build a green building and make sure that every single package and label that we utilize is green," says owner Jorge Fierro. "We want to be known as a business that is very conscience about our environment." Recently, Fierro opened Rico Locals, a food cooperative that works with sustainable farms and allows farmers to sell their products at a sustainable price.


Swaner EcoCenter: There are many things you can see at the Swaner EcoCenter that visually represent Swaner's commitment to bridging the gap between people and nature; the center houses exhibit space, a theater, and classrooms dedicated to environmental education and outreach. More than 79 percent of occupied spaces have natural daylight and almost 90 percent of spaces provide outside views. But there are several components to the 10,000-square-foot building that can't be seen, yet are substantial enough to earn the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED-Platinum certification in July. "When people walk in they say 'you have a bamboo floor' - most people know bamboo is a highly renewable source. But what they don’t know is that the cement in the front hall has 25 percent fly ash mixed into it - fly ash is a bio-product from coal energy production and usually goes into the landfill. But if it's mixed into cement, we don't have to put it into the landfill," says Sally Tauber, director of business development at Swaner EcoCenter. From the beginning of the project, construction activity pollution was controlled and more than 69 percent of the site was protected and restored through native plantings. More than 12 percent renewable energy is provided with PV panels and a solar hot water system. And inside the center, harmful chemicals were reduced by using low-emitting adhesives, sealants, paints and Green Label Plus Certified carpet.

Kennecott Land: Many buildings and homes in Utah are currently being retrofitted with environmental- and energy-saving features. But the homes in Daybreak on Salt Lake Valley’s west bench, Kennecott's 4,200-acre community using non-mining and post-mining land, are built to Energy Star standards from the beginning. At full build-out, Daybreak will have 20,000 residential homes consuming an average 13 percent less energy than comparable homes. The Daybreak Corporate Center also received LEED-Platinum certification last year. It was developed adjacent to the homes and a mixed-use retail environment to facilitate walking between work, home and shopping. Plus, two operational bus lines and a future TRAX light rail line are within walking distance of the Daybreak Corporate Center. Scott Kaufmann, vice president of commercial development at Kennecott Land, says the company takes a holistic approach to development. "Since we own the land, we end up owning the commercial space after it’s built. It’s our project from building to end," he says. "So, we know that we have a great potential to impact what is built versus what could be built." Mark Miller Toyota When Mark Miller learned about the first LEED certified auto dealership in the nation, he flew to Texas to see how it could be done here in Salt Lake. In 2008, he brought those green practices to Utah, establishing a LEED-Gold certified dealership. Miller experienced a 10 percent increase in the construction budget, but turned out a state-of-the-art facility that is 25 percent more energy efficient than a typical building and includes things you wouldn’t expect from a company selling automobiles. A look at the structure itself—complete with an innovative skylight system to harness natural daylight—is a clue that this is no typical building. But beyond the obvious design features, the building uses a high efficiency heating and cooling system, low-flow faucets and toilets as well as waterless urinals, cool roof system, self-sustaining landscaping, a cistern to collect rainwater used to wash cars, preferential parking to carpoolers and recyclable materials inside and out. Miller says the fact that his business achieved LEED-Gold certification despite its high rate of air exhaustion, bright lighting and energy use typical of auto dealers is a testament to his commitment to the community. "Toyota has always been and continues to be a very environmentally conscientious corporation," says Miller. "Now more than ever, we need to be sure all elements of our operations meet that same high standard. This new building is a tangible demonstration of these core values and we are proud to be among the first to raise the bar."


University of Phoenix Utah Campus: The Green Team and the University of Phoenix Utah Campus knew they were on to something when the community flooded their phone lines last April. A well publicized electronics recycling event revealed the "pent-up" frustration over what to do with old TVs, cell phones and computer monitors. During the week leading up to Earth Day, the company collected more than 25,000 pounds of used electronics. The Green Team carefully checked the reputations of the companies accepting the material to ensure that 100 percent of each item was recycled. "We knew we could do much more [than the previous year] by getting the word out earlier in 2009," says Darris Howe, vice president/director at the Utah Campus. "The move in 2009 from an analog to a digital television signal, combined with campus drop off locations, proved to be the right combination as we experienced an overwhelming response."

Earth Goods General Store: Earth Goods General Store, which offers earth-friendly products for the home, school and office, found a way to walk the walk when it converted a 1970s era convenience store into a model of sustainability. The company already was known for its supply of socially responsible and environmentally sustainable products, but its place of business needed work. During its upgrade, work included the reuse of materials from the previous business, the installation of formaldehyde-free Slatwall and VOC-free paints, stains and varnishes as well as other materials to reduce its carbon footprint. Together with its other earth friendly initiatives in its workplace and the community, Earth Goods General Store lives up to its mission statement: "To provide our community with access to the products, information and resources they need and to enable the practice of more environmentally conscious, economically sustainable, and socially responsible lifestyles and business pursuits."


The Sequoia award honors businesses that have matured into a completely green business in practice and purpose.

ajc architects: The buzz words “environmental” and “sustainability” get thrown around a lot in business, but only a few businesses can claim they are green to the core. Ajc architects is one of those companies that can claim commitment to the environment. Not only do the designers promote the green agenda in their projects, but they strive to live and work with the same ideals as well. "We were constantly talking about sustainability in our designs and we began asking ourselves how our own workplace fit the model," says Jill A. Jones, president of ajc architects. "We’ve gotta walk this walk." The Salt Lake City firm promotes the belief that sustainable design is simply good design that fosters an understanding of a building's impact on human health and its environment. "There is just so much now that is affordable," Jones says. "We strive to involve the client, design team and construction team early to identify opportunities to design spaces and places that are both environmentally sensitive and inspiring." In 2000, ajc architects moved to its current facility where sustainability took the forefront of the building’s design from xeric landscaping, which saves 434,000 gallons of water annually. It also increased its paper recycling program, and in 2008 changed its work week to four 10-hour days to reduce operational costs and realize 20 percent less commute time during the week for its staff. ajc architects is very familiar with LEED certified projects, having received multiple certifications including LEED-Platinum certification for its Utah State University, Botanical Center Wetland Discovery Point and National Park Service, Mesa Verde Research and Collections Facility.

Sundance Resort: Since its earliest days, Sundance Resort has been known as a champion of green policies. Today, like it did in 1969, Sundance looks for ways to implement new ideas to stay at the forefront of environmental stewardship. The resort partners with Utah Power’s Blue Sky Program and Utah Clean Energy Alliance to purchase enough Renewable Energy Credits (REC) to offset 100 percent of its power usage. A Green Building Policy guides all new development and remodeling projects. For instance, the Spa at Sundance contains many environmentally responsible building products including low VOC paint, water saving devices, energy efficient lighting and heating, wallboard made from sunflower seed hulls and the use of Trestlewood—a lumber salvaged from the Great Salt Lake. Operationally, the resort exudes its green doctrine, from the products sold in the General Store to the organic produce and products used in it food services to the chlorine free paper products. Customers also are offered discounts for carpooling, and employees are encouraged to use the local bus service. Together with the not-for-profit Sundance Preserve, the company also works with public agencies on land management practices that promote healthy forests and habitat in its neighboring ecosystem.


EarthFruits: It's not often you find a Utah business saving the rainforest, but South Jordan-based EarthFruits, the largest exporter of acai in the world, is saving a lot of ground. And with the current rate of deforestation being the equivalent of an area the size of a football field every minute, EarthFruits plans to save more than 27,225 football-field-sized areas of the rainforest Last year, estimated preservation reached about 15,000 acres. EarthFruits also initiated a program utilizing unused seeds and other fruit byproducts to make jewelry. Each month, 10,000 bracelets are exported to the U.S. from Brazil and proceeds from sales go directly to the jewelry makers in Brazil’s local communities. And in September, EarthFruits partnered with a branch of the Brazilian government to teach Amazon natives sustainable harvesting techniques. "We've developed mutually beneficial relationships with the residents of various harvesting areas," says Marshall Snarr, national sales manager of EarthFruits. "Without their help, EarthFruits could not have kept up with the growing demand for acai and other exotic fruits in the United States. In return, we provide locals with a sustainable income.”

Harmons Grocery Store: Harmons Grocery Store has been selling reusable grocery bags and reimbursing customers 5 cents for each reusable bag they bring in since the mid-1990s. And the store’s paper bags are made from 40 percent post-consumer content, which contains some of Harmons’ own recycled cardboard. The store also reduces water use and trains employees to use more sustainable practices. But this year, Harmons’ efforts reached to a new level when the Brickyard store piloted a new sustainable practices program in order to reduce its impact on local landfills. It began sending produce and floral waste to a Salt Lake County compost facility and is working with local government and Allied Waste and Momentum Recycling to establish recycling practices inside the store. And, each of Harmons' 13 Utah stores has a sustainability leader to ensure environmentally friendly practices. Today, Harmons' efforts also extend beyond store associates and customers; Harmons' vendors are being challenged to develop new strategies to help the store reach its "zero waste" goal.


REDCO: Soon, renewable energy development company REDCO will help Needles, California harness the sun’s power to produce energy without generating pollution. Last June, Needles’ City Council and Public Utility Authority executed a 20-year power purchase agreement with REDCO to develop and operate a 5-megawatt solar thermal power plant, which will represent 20 percent of the city’s power. Here at home, REDCO is working with Utah companies Wadsworth Construction, International Automated Systems (IAUS) and Peterson Inc. to purchase, build and manufacture the project. "We are in the business of owning and operating wind and solar projects, but the demand for green power in Utah is not as active yet as in other states," says Ryan Davies, REDCO president. "But we want to stimulate Utah’s economy as much as possible—that’s why we’re working with Utah companies to do all our business here."

Reflect Scientific Inc. Approximately 350,000 refrigerated trucks are a part of today's trucking industry, and for every hour that a refrigerated truck runs its cooling equipment, it will typically use .7 gallons of diesel fuel. In a year, that collectively translates to more than 177 million pounds of nitrogen oxide, 154 million pounds of carbon dioxide and 19 million pounds of particulate matter being released into the air. But Reflect Scientific expects to see that change with its Cryometrix CB-40 technology, a zero emissions alternative to diesel-powered refrigeration. Cryometrix CB-40 uses liquid nitrogen to achieve the same cooling as with diesel powered refrigeration, but without harmful emissions and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). The technology has also been incorporated into freezers for the biotechnology and pharmaceutical market, demonstrating up to 90 percent energy savings over the conventional CFC driven systems. "Our biggest advantage to this is that it is a platform technology that allows us to go into multiple markets with multiple applications," explains Tom Tait, vice president of Reflect Scientific.


I-O Corporation: While computers continue to get faster and smaller, IT departments run into the costly problem of regulating heat and energy consumption. I-O Corporation’s ProEdge thin client technology has solved these problems by offering thin clients, energy efficient servers and support at a fraction of the cost of a traditional PC labs and networks. The company has found a niche helping school districts save energy and money on their computer labs. ProEdge thin clients consume 1/16th the power of a standard desktop PC and they remove the complexities of upgrading hardware and software releases and protect against viruses and internet threats. This reduction in hardware also translates into fewer machines eventually making their way to landfills. The end result is a dramatically lower carbon footprint and an environmentally friendly technology solution.

SIRE Technologies: Living with a free and open society necessitates the generation of countless public records. As technology has improved, so has the access to the public records required to run the business of government. The average city or county office consumes literally millions of pounds of paper per year in fulfilling its public obligations. SIRE Technologies makes it possible for governments to replace physical documents with electronic documents in creative ways. Web forms and applications now replace the need to travel to the county courthouse. Signatures can be captured for legal documents and files can be routed to the appropriate departments electronically. Streaming video allows residents to participate in city council or other board meetings live from their computer. This not only increases the ability to participate in local government, but is a substantial cost saving and a huge benefit to the environment. Locally, West Valley City implemented SIRE Electronic Document Management System (EDMS) to help the police department document accident reports that are now kept and transmitted electronically instead of mailed or faxed. The company is also working to automatically upload traffic tickets directly into the SIRE system—straight from a police officer’s car-mounted computer, virtually eliminating the need for paper. That translates into a savings of up to 112,500 pages of paper that no longer need to be printed. That’s a savings of or up to $11,250 for taxpayers.


Archiplex Group LLC: The demand to create an environmentally friendly workplace is arguably no more important than it is at an architectural firm that promotes building environmentally friendly structures. So in 2008 when Archiplex Group began the transformation of a former truck detail shop into its current office, it made every effort to be green. During the remodeling, as much construction material as possible was diverted from landfills to recycling services. A high-efficiency HVAC system with an economizer supplemented by two 10-foot fans also allowed the owners to show their commitment to sustainability. As clients enter the building, they are immersed into a teaching area that shows how materials can be used to compliment a building project. Highlights of the remodel include repurposing the 50-year-old building using Bonded Logic recycled denim (R30) insulation throughout open ceilings. The company also installed 3-inch EIFS applied to the exterior of the building and replaced single-pane windows with dual pane Low E glass. White reflective roofing also lowers the temperature of the roof by more than 40 degrees. Workers also use recycled products such as a reception desk made of 100 percent recycled paper, carpet made from recycled plastic bottles, sorghum (a rapidly renewable cereal) panels made into doors and the original non-insulated garage doors relocated to become interior walls The individual work stations were created out of demountable fiber wood panel products. Beyond what visitors see, the company sends out monthly green reminders for employees and has recycling bins at each work station.

L-3 Communications "Reduce the amount that you consume, re-use what can be, recycle all that is possible." That's the mantra at L-3 Communications-West in Salt Lake City. When Group President Susan Opp formed the CSW Green Committee, the intent was to find a way to implement the ideas coming from employees to promote an eco-friendly work environment. In April, the Green Committee sponsored CSW Green Day that included hands-on demonstrations and participation from local vendors including Green Building Center, Eco-Moto, Blue Sky, Questar, Thermwise, UTA and others. Ongoing workplace activities remind employees of the importance of the company’s earth friendly practices. These include a CSW green Website, green new hire letter, annual CSW green report and CSW newsletter. The company also donated 400 personal computers this year to schools and shelters, and recycled 660 gallons of used vegetable oil from its cafeteria. Through its Single Stream Recycling program, the company also recycled 120 tons of scrap metal and diverted 27 tons of recyclables from the landfill. The company also realized a 10 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions through its alternative fuel vehicles and provides bicycles for employee transfers across its campus.


Salt Lake City Corporation: What does a local engineering firm have in common with a Salt Lake beauty salon? Both were awarded e2 Business certification, a Salt Lake City Corporation program that recognizes small, local businesses for demonstrating how a healthy profit and planet go hand-in-hand. "Everything that you do for the environment means you're becoming more efficient, and when you're more efficient you're saving money," says Vicki Bennett, director of sustainability at Salt Lake City Corporation. Bennett, along with former Mayor Rocky Anderson and his environmental advisor Lisa Romney, started the program in 2003 to help small businesses address environmental issues. "This was at the time when there were some approaches for large businesses, but there really wasn't anything for your average, small business," says Bennett. The Division of Sustainability and the Environment (DSE) works with applicants to create com-prehensive annual goals related to energy, transportation use, waste production and water consumption. The initiative currently includes nearly 100 local Salt Lake City businesses in a broad range of sectors.

Central Utah Water Conservancy District: You probably know the Central Utah Water Conservancy District (CUWCD) as a force behind the slow-the-flow water checks, created to demonstrate the wise use of water in Utah landscapes. The program provides funding for statewide water conservation education through the State Office of Education and the Living Planet Aquarium. But many of its projects are behind the scenes in conveyance systems and water treatment plants that help meet the water needs of 10 Utah counties. "As we go about our business of developing water, we make sure there is still sufficient water for in-stream flows and other environmental purposes," says Gene Shawcroft, CUWCD general manager. The district has also helped preserve the June sucker, an endangered species in Utah Lake—the only place in the world where the fish live naturally. The CUWCD manages the Provo River's flow at different times and ranges according to the fish’s biological needs. The district's environmental impact also includes efforts to restore lakes in the Uinta Mountains. "When we built Jordanelle, the lakes were stabilized into a natural condition, benefiting wildlife and the natural environment," says Shawcroft.

JUDGING: More than 70 Utah businesses were nominated for the first of what we hope to be an annual recognition program celebrating the greening of our business environment. Judges, which included Utah Business editors with help from Michael O’Malley and his staff at Utah Science Technology and Research (USTAR), lumped like businesses into categories and narrowed the field to 24, two of which rose to the top to represent the greenest businesses in the state. "I weighed [the entries] against three main criteria," O'Malley says. "Data indicating a substantive environmental impact relative to the scope of the business, impact within Utah, degree to which 'green' processes are embedded in the products and services of the business vs. generic workplace efforts. This is not to say workplace campaigns are not very good things, but for the grand prize, I felt 'walking the walk' was a differentiator."

Friday, May 22, 2009

May 22, 2009 -- Scouts prepare for Memorial Day

The Morning News / David Kennard
Erin Bewley of Girl Scout Troop 100 in Blackfoot place flags at the Groveland Cemetery Friday with other members of her troop in Preparation for the Memorial Day ceremony Monday.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

May 2, 2009 -- Working dogs

Photo by David Kennard
BLACKFOOT — Hitch works with J.B. Hodge of Pingree Saturday at the East Idaho Horse Expo at the Eastern Idaho State Fairgrounds in Blackfoot. Hodge participated in the working dog demonstration showing how riders and dogs work together to move cattle.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

April 21, 2009 -- River on the rise: Officials forecast even higher water in coming days

The Morning News / David Kennard
Mario Martinez of Blackfoot spends a sunny afternoon at the water’s edge near Twin Bridges park on the Snake River west of Blackfoot. The river has been rising as warm temperatures melt snowpack in the high country.

By David Kennard

BLACKFOOT — If you’ve driven across any of the bridges west of town recently you’ve seen some pretty high water.

Spring thaw in the high country has sent water into tributaries and reservoirs at the headwaters of the Snake River.
As reservoirs fill, water managers are forced to release water so they can accept more snowmelt.
Forecasters are calling for more warm weather in the valley in coming days, but said temperatures will remain cold during the night, which will slow the release of water.
National Weather Service officials said Friday they expect the Snake River in Blackfoot to rise to 9.63 feet sometime on Sunday. The river is considered to be at flood stage when it reaches 10 feet.

At the current rate, local residents could see water in low lying areas in the next few days, but NWS forecasters said they expect river levels to drop slightly at the beginning of the new week.
The National Weather service monitors the water level remotely from a United States Geological Survey station near the twin bridges west of Blackfoot.
Similar stations are located all along the river.

The stations help water managers determine how much water to release from local reservoirs to both keep the water in the channel and keep the reservoirs as full as possible heading into the hot summer months.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

April 8, 2009 -- Rodeo Action at the DNCFR

Photos By David Kenard
Rodeo action
ABOVE: Saydee Arave from Shelley gets a lift from Dusty Tuckness Wednesday at Holt Arena after her ride in the Mutton Bustin’ event on opening night of the Dodge National Circuit Finals Rodeo. The rodeo brings top contenders from 12 circuits to compete at the three-day event. The rodeo runs through Saturday.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

April 4, 2009 -- Jobless rate holds steady: Bingham County outperforms closest neighbors, state, nation


BLACKFOOT — Bad economic news continues to pour in across the nation, but here in Bingham County, residents got some news that for a change wasn’t bad.

For the first time in more than a year, the unemployment rate didn’t go up in Bingham County.

Standing at 5.4 percent, the jobless rate is still much higher than it was a year ago (3.3 percent) but local experts see the report from the Idaho Department of Labor as confirmation that the local economy is much different than it is nationally.

“It is good news,” said J. Brandon Bird, executive director of Bingham Economic Development Corporation.

Bird said Friday that much of the success in Bingham County comes from regional economic development initiatives.

In his address Friday at the Community Economic Development Forum, he said wooing new business to the county is the “sexy side” of his job.

“But the real work is growing existing business,” Bird said. “Sixty-five percent of our work is helping existing companies grow.”

The monthly jobless report came on the same day that the national unemployment rate rose to 8.5 percent, the highest rate in more than 25 years.

And statewide, the unemployment rate rose to 7.1 percent, up from 6.8 percent a month earlier and 4.1 percent a year ago.

According to Bob Fick with the Idaho Department of Labor, Idaho’s economy had not lost jobs between February and March since World War II.

“Unemployment benefits payments approached $60 million in March, intensifying the pressure on the state’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund,” according to a statement released Friday by Fick’s office.

And he said, according to department analysts, there is little evidence to suggest Idaho’s employment picture will improve in the next several months.

Friday’s report showed the Bingham County outperformed neighboring counties which all say an increase in unemployment.

Bannock County saw its jobless rate climb from 5.6 percent to 5.8 percent during the last month. And Bonneville County climbed to 5 percent, up only slightly from 4.9 percent a month ago.

The unemployment rate in every county was higher in March than a year earlier with 21 of Idaho’s 44 counties recording a rate decline from February. Clearwater County had the highest rate at 16.5 percent. Other double digit counties were Adams at 14.9 percent, Benewah at 15.9 percent, Shoshone at 11.6 percent, Boundary at 12.8 percent and Valley at 12.4 percent. Only three Idaho counties reported double digit rates in March 2008.

Just two counties posted rates at or below 4 percent last month. Owyhee County had the lowest rate at 2.9 percent, and Teton came in at 3.9 percent. A year ago, 23 counties had rates below 4 percent.

According to labor officials more than 6,500 manufacturing, primarily in high technology, and 8,300 construction jobs were lost over the past 12 months along with 9,400 transportation and warehousing jobs, 8,600 jobs in professional and business services and 2,600 in leisure and hospitality, mostly in restaurants and bars. The limited bright spot was 1,900 new jobs in health care.

Friday, March 13, 2009

March 13, 2009 -- Sayer shares Premier vision: ISU honors Blackfoot business leader

The Morning News / David Kennard
Doug Sayer, president of Premier Technology, speaks at the annual Business Leader of the Year award Thursday at Idaho Sate University.

Sayer shares Premier vision

By David Kennard

POCATELLO -- Idaho State University students, faculty and invited guests Thursday got a flavor of Douglas A. Sayer's vision.

The president of Premier Technology was honored as the University's Idaho Business Leader of the Year, an award bestowed by the school since 1959.

Sayer is the owner of Premier Technology in Blackfoot.

In the last few years the company, which employs about 350 people, has seen continued growth in designing and manufacturing high quality equipment for industries from mining,
chemical and pharmaceutical manufacturing to the departments of Energy and Defense, and become a recognized leader in the nuclear industry.

Speakers attending the festivities under the rotunda of the L. E. and Thelma E. Stephens Performing Arts Center said Sayer was the ideal recipient on the 50th anniversary of the award.

Sayers thanked those who spoke about his accomplishments, but said he looked at the award not as recognition for past work, but as an assignment to inspire future business leaders -- especially those attending the College of Business at ISU.

He said it would be the task of today's students, as well as business leaders to lift the nation out of its current economic woes.

Speaking about the economy, Sayers said, "I won't use the 'R' word. ... I'm calling this a depression."

He blamed the economic climate on the fact the "America has become a nation of consumers," and said waiting for the government to solve the problem was not a solution.

"The rest of the country is looking to us to solve the problem," he said indicating that Idaho was an example of hard word and integrity.

"This country was built on the backs of people who left their home country," Sayer said. "I know that DNA still exists in our country today."

Sayer was introduced by J. Brandon Bird, executive director of Bingham Economic Development Corporation in Blackfoot.

He said Sayer was in good company, acknowledging those who had been honored by the school in the past.

"Most (of the awards) are given when they (recipients) are gray and past their prime," Bird said. "Well you are gray, but you are not past your prime.

"As great as the accomplishments are today, they will be even greater in five or 10 years from now."

During his remarks, Sayer thanked those who came to support him, including family members and company customers. He also gave credit to the people in his company.

"It is not what I am or what I've done that makes this special," he said. "but those that have spent time supporting us."

Monday, March 9, 2009

March 9, 2009 -- Winter brings dangerous roads

The Morning News / David Kennard
Emergencey crews work on the scene of a rollover crash Sunday at the south Blackfoot Exit on Interstate 15. No one was hurt in the crash.

Winter brings dangerous roads

BLACKFOOT — Emergency crews responded to several crashes Sunday night following the light snow that fell in the area.
The precipitation dropped wet snow late in the day that combined with sub-freezing temperatures as the sun went down to make roads extremely slick.
Bingham County Sheriff’s deputies responded to two crashes within about an hour of each other at the south Blackfoot exit.
No injuries were reported, but one single-vehicle crash totaled a Toyota pickup truck that rolled off the road just north of the overpass.
Bingham County emergency dispatchers said local law enforcement officials were busy responding to multiple -- but minor -- crashes.
Blackfoot Fire Department officials said they were called to the scene of several crashes, but no one was seriously hurt on slick roads Saturday night.
The National Weather Service said local drivers could expect to see slick roads through the day today as a winter weather system moved through southeast Idaho.
Meteorologist Jeff Hedges with the National Weather Service in Pocatello said a winter storm warning was issued for the mountains south of Pocatello through Monday. The storm was expected to drop as much as 10 inches of snow in the high country.
Hedges said up to 2 inches of snow is expected to fall locally today and tonight before clear weather arrives sometime on Tuesday. He said the next chance for measurable accumulation would be Sunday.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Vienna Boys Choir visits Blackfoot

Morning News Photo by David Kennard
Members of the Vienna Boys Choir amazed a nearly packed house Wednesday at the Blackfoot Performing Arts Center. The all-boy choir, conducted by Andy Icochea Icochea sang a wide variety of songs that spanned the choir’s 500-plus year history, including pieces from their most recent motion picture “Silk Road.” The choir traces its origins to 1498, the year Emperor Maximilian I of Habsburg called for select choristers to provide musical accompaniment for Vienna’s court. About 100 choristers, trebles and altos between the ages of 10 and 14 are split into four touring groups, which present about 300 concerts annually worldwide. Members are selected mostly from Austria.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Jan. 17, 2009 - Blackfoot grad honored by French

By David Kennard
PARIS, France — As a kid growing up in Blackfoot, Paul Zilk had dreams like every other child.

He played in the high school band and was a varsity tennis player at Blackfoot High School. He even worked on the school newspaper for a time.

But on Sunday, the 1975 BHS student class president will stand on a podium before some of the world’s most notable entertainment industry leaders and be awarded one of the most prestigious honors bestowed by the French government.

The Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Order of Arts and Literature) is given to individuals who have demonstrated significant contributions to the world of arts and literature.

France, considered by many as the center of world culture, presents the award to only a limited number of individuals every year.

And when the French Minister of Culture Christine Albanel pins the medal on the Zilk’s lapel Sunday he will join an exclusive group of entertainment and cultural leaders that include Martin Scorcese, Clint Eastwood, Bob Dylan, George Clooney, Bruce Willis, Leonardo DiCaprio, and many others both in and out of the spotlight.

“This is one of the most important honors of my life,” Zilk said from his office in Paris.
Zilk, the CEO of Reed MIDEM, one of the world’s leading tradeshow and events companies, is based in Paris. The company is responsible for three major shows devoted to television and music businesses.

Similar to the annual film festival in Cannes, France, which honors filmmakers and actors, Reed MIDEM focuses on the business side of entertainment and culture at events in Cannes and other locations throughout the world.

Zilk, who has lived in Europe for the last 21 years, the last five in France, said the honor he will receive on Sunday is made more special because of his early years growing up in Blackfoot.

He said a few key events took him from his small eastern Idaho roots to a life in international business. And, he said, he doesn’t mind standing as an example to young people who have a desire to persue similar dreams.

“We’re a humble town,” Zilk said of Blackfoot. “And maybe there is a kid out there who wants to do something more.”

During his senior year at Blackfoot High School, Zilk met up with a college student who he learned was going to Princeton University. Through a conversation Zilk learned that “for someone with good grades, there is another world out there.”

He spoke to his school counselors and decided he wanted to attend an ivy league school, he said. He chose Harvard.

When he entered college he said he wanted to enter politics, having always considered U.S. Sen. Frank Church (D-Idaho) one of his idols.

He worked as a college intern for Gov. Cecil Andrus in Boise, but eventually changed tracks and entered Harvard Business School.

After graduating with an MBA degree, he worked in various marketing positions for several notable companies in the U.S.

From 1992 to 2000, Zilk headed the international business of the National Basketball Association (NBA), where he established and managed NBA offices throughout Europe, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and Australia, according to his public biography.

“When I talk to kids that’s what they like the most,” he said.

He has worked in his most recent position with Reed MINEM for the last seven-plus years in France, where he has raised his family.

“My wife is French, my kids are French, but I never forgot what happened to me,” Zilk said.

He said he has fond memories of growing up in Idaho, where he attended Jason Lee Memorial Methodist Church with his family. “We still consider that our church.”

He said the high honor by the French government is exciting for him, not so much because of the prestige, but more because he remembers how a chance encounter sparked an interest that lead him to a life he never dreamed of as kid growing up in Blackfoot.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Jan. 7, 2009 - Moose still loose

Story and Photos By David Kennard
the Morning News

BLACKFOOT -- Police ended a six-hour standoff with a moose Tuesday along Airport Road in Blackfoot when the animal vanished into fields east of the Blackfoot Golf Course.

AT RIGHT, Blackfoot COP officer Delbert Brown watches traffic to make sure the female moose wasn’t a hazard. Blackfoot Police and Idaho Fish and Game officials talked about how best to tranquilize the moose so they could transport it back into the wild.

Jason Beck with Fish and Game in Pocatello said officials would continue to watch for the animal in the next few days to ensure it stays away from residents.

“We want to keep the wild things in the wild,” he said.

He said it is not uncommon for moose to venture into the area from their natural habitat along the Snake River or the hills east of Blackfoot, although he said it was difficult to say where this moose came from.

Police and Fish and Game urged residents to keep away from the moose.

Jan. 7, 2009 - ISP says stay off roads

By David Kennard
The Morning News

BLACKFOOT — Freezing roads made eastern Idaho roads so dangerous Tuesday that Idaho State Patrol officials issued a traffic warning to local drivers

"ISP is requesting that travel on all interstates, U.S. highways and state highways be limited to essential and emergency traffic only," officials said in a statement issued Tuesday night. "Road conditions are extremely treacherous throughout eastern Idaho. There are multiple slide-offs throughout the regions."

Officials said Idaho Transportation Department officials were "out in full force attempting to keep roads open for emergency travel, and assessing closure needs."

Weather forecasters Tuesday said conditions should improve today with temperatures rising into the mid-30s, but drivers were urged to use caution as winter driving conditions were expected to return at night and into Thursday with the arrival of another storm system.

Jeff Hedges, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Pocatello said the mixed rain and snow and freezing drizzle that turned local roads into ice was uncommon for the Snake River Plain.

"It's a mess," Hedges said. "Just a thin film is all it takes to make things very slick."

Accumulation in the valley will be very light, Hedges said. Up to an inch was expected Tuesday night, with much more expected at higher elevations.

Skiers headed to local resorts will find plenty of fresh snow — if they can get there. While roads will be very slick to all the eastern Idaho resorts, once there, skiers will find several inches of fresh snow in the coming days.

Kelly Canyon reported 4 inches of new snow in the last 24 hours and forecasters are calling for more leading up to the weekend.

Grand Targhee was reporting 6 inches in the last day after getting dumped on Saturday when the resort measured 13 inches of snowfall. Again forecasters are calling for more snow on Thursday and Friday, but drivers should use extreme caution driving on mountain roads.

Current road report information, including road closures, can be obtained online at, or by calling 511.