Jim Bernau: A story of leadership in the wine industry

Jim Bernau, Founder/Winegrower, Willamette Valley Vineyards

If you ask Jim Bernau how long he has worked in the wine industry, he will tell you that he can only remember ever working two days.
Maybe someday he will tell us which two days those were…


Dean’s Executive Series with Willamette Valley Vineyards founder

This story begins like it did for many of us. Being served small amounts of wine at the dinner table by our parents. But in Bernau’s case, it was made by the first emigrating winemaker since Prohibition: UC Davis graduate Richard Sommer, who believed it was in Oregon ― not California ― where he would grow world-class pinot noir.

Sommer needed a lawyer to obtain the necessary licenses that the state hadn’t issued in more than 30 years, so he drove his pick-up truck into the small town of Roseburg to find himself a lawyer, and hired Bernau’s dad. By 1963, Sommer had produced 200 gallons of wine.

First motivated by its effects more than its flavor, Bernau began by fermenting the concord grape juice that his mom kept in the freezer, guided by information on fermentation in the family encyclopedias, later graduating to Sommer’s grapes – hiding the bottles under the crawl spaces of the house.

While Bernau’s father wanted him to return from Willamette Law School to the family practice, he chose to pursue his interest in government and wine, representing the Oregon Winegrowers in the passage of the Oregon Wine Advisory Board for the research and promotion of the industry in 1981, his first piece of legislation as a young lobbyist.

In the same year, he began searching for vineyard land, found an old overgrown pioneer plum orchard in the Salem hills and began planting pinot noir in 1983, watering his vines with 17 lengths of 75-foot garden hose he’d bought on special. Bernau named it Willamette Valley Vineyards – later to become grandfathered into federal law when the American Viticultural Area was federally authorized.

While the vines were growing, Bernau concentrated on helping the Oregon Winegrowers by passing legislation on making wineries a permitted use on farmland, the direct shipment of wine, wine tastings in stores and restaurants, and later the establishment of the Oregon Wine Board. Bernau’s personal gift to Oregon State University established the first professorship for fermentation science in the nation.

His fellow winemakers recognized Bernau’s early work with the industry’s Founder’s Award followed by the Governor’s Gold, presented by Oregon’s four living Governors. His wines created quite a stir by when they appeared on the television shows “West Wing” and “Friends,” and were later served at White House State dinners. Willamette Valley Vineyards was eventually listed among the top 100 Wines in the World by Wine Spectator, named “One of America’s Great Pinot Noir Producers” by Wine Enthusiast and was dubbed “Winery of the Year” by Wine and Spirits.

The recognition Bernau values most came from his fellow winegrowers when he involved in creating the first system of environmental stewardship in American agriculture, the Low Impact Viticulture and Enology program, followed by awards presented by the Rainforest Alliance and the American Wine Society.

Bernau believes among healthiest forms of business organization are those owned by the community. He conducted one of the earliest “crowd funding” in the nation to build his winery by obtaining permission from the Securities and Exchange Commission in 1988, resulting in a growing fabric of laws allowing community-based funding for small businesses. Willamette Valley Vineyards has grown to more than 16,000 wine enthusiast shareholders and is listed on the NASDAQ under the symbol WVVI.

Boeing Day busy for reps, students

Sierra Makepeace of Boeing, left, talks with pre-graphic design student Hannah King at Boeing's booth in the MU quad.
Sierra Makepeace of Boeing, left, talks with pre-graphic design student Hannah King at Boeing’s booth in the MU quad.

Representatives from Boeing, corporate partner of the College of Business, were on campus May 14 for Boeing Day, a series of workshops and informational events aimed at helping Oregon State students learn more about the aerospace giant and job opportunities at the company.

On hand were Brad Stevenson, a college recruiter; Sierra Makepeace, who works in business operations; Matt McMahen, finance; and Kalan Guiley, continued airworthiness manager for twin-aisle airplane programs and commercial airplanes.

Comprising Boeing Day were two separate resume workshops (in the Kelley Engineering Center and Austin Hall), a mid-day information table in the Memorial Union quad, and an evening information session in Austin Hall.

Sophomore Hannah King, a pre-graphic design student, and graduating senior Matthew L. Bautista, a management major, were among the throng of students to drop by Boeing’s booth in the quad.

“I wanted to see what the opportunities were, and I definitely got information that I want to check out,” King said.

Bautista is a former Air Force mechanic who now works in human resources in Portland for the Oregon Air National Guard in addition to attending OSU. He’s interested in HR or career development work with Boeing and is grateful for how his studies and professional life are propelling each other forward.

“I take what I learn in Austin and apply it to my professional life and personal life, and I take what I learn there and apply it here,” he said. “There’s a good synergy going on.”

Boeing, founded in Seattle in 1916 and now based in Chicago, is the world’s largest aerospace company and serves customers in 150 countries.


Adidas: A culture of empowerment

adidas logoA culture built around honesty, commitment, passion, innovation, inspiration, teamwork, empowerment and student engagement has earned adidas this year’s Distinguished Business Partner award.

That culture is in sync with that of the College of Business, adidas executive Nic Vu said.

“The professors and other educators focus on placement,” said Vu, a senior vice president and a 1995 College of Business graduate who spearheaded his company’s partnership with the college. “College of Business students are very well versed in team dynamics, group projects and results orientation, and they’re open to learning.

“I work with lot of Ph.D.’s and consultants who have master’s, MBAs, whatever, and they don’t have all of that packaged together as well as some of the undergrads I see coming out of Oregon State,” he said. “That’s a compliment to the dean and all the educators at Oregon State.”

Beavers who have joined Vu at adidas have taken note of a supportive environment that mirrors that of the college that prepared them to launch their careers.

“The College of Business stresses networking and adidas allows recent grads to take networking to an entirely new level,” said OSU senior Jacob Knightley, who’s majoring in finance and business information systems and works 30 hours a week for adidas’ finance reporting team.

“All managers — junior, senior and above — are extremely approachable and will take time out of their day to talk with you. My CFO walks around and talks with everybody on a first-name basis and will make the effort to learn your name as soon as possible.”

Knightley said he and others consider the adidas culture to be an extension of their university life.

“We make sure our work is getting completed to the best degree, but we have fun while we do it,” he said. “Adidas benefits (from the College of Business partnership) by getting great local talent who bring new and fresh ideas about how to win in America, and the college benefits by having a local company that loves to recruit local talent.”

Adidas will be honored May 11 in Portland at the college’s annual Celebration of Excellence, along with the rest of the 2015 award winners as well as retiring Dean Ilene Kleinsorge.

The evening begins with a reception at 5:30 p.m., followed by dinner and the awards presentation. For more information or to register, contact Elsa Frey at elsa.frey@oregonstate.edu or call 541-737-6648, or register online at http://business.oregonstate.edu/awards.


Business Expo draws huge crowd

Doug Robillard of Boeing talks about how students can get the most out of their internship and career.
Doug Robillard of Boeing talks about how students can get the most out of their internship and career.

Doug Robillard, quality director for Boeing’s 747 and 767 programs, told College of Business students that his company wants its interns to question why the company does things the way it does.

“Your questioning and understanding of what we’re doing make us better,” said Robillard, one of the presenters April 21 at the Business Expo at Austin Hall. “It’s easy for a company to fall into doing things a certain way because that’s the way we’ve always been doing them, and a lot of those companies are no longer with us.”

Robillard, a 1987 College of Business graduate who’s spent his entire career at Boeing, conducted a workshop titled “Keys to a Successful Internship and Job.” His workshop was one of four, each given twice, at the Business Expo; the others were “Making the Most of Your Internship,” presented by Mutual of Enumclaw Insurance; “Networking Skills,” by Mass Mutual Financial Group and Cambia Health Solutions; and “Resume Writing,” by Enterprise Holdings.

Those companies were among 17 that took part in the Expo, which drew more than 200 students of all classes and majors and featured hours of networking opportunities in addition to the workshops.

“It’s a competitive world you guys are in,” Robillard said. “Internships are a big step in our company for getting your foot in the door.”

Boeing internships take place in the fall, he said. Most of them are in the Seattle area, and there are also opportunities in Troutdale, as well as around the nation.

Robillard noted that at his last count, he was one of 678 OSU alumni working for Boeing.

Oregon State also has a strong alumni presence at Cambia, and the company sent Michelle Scwhartz, diversity and university programs manager, to Austin Hall to help teach students how to network their way to career success. A key topic during her presentation was the informational interview – meeting with someone at a place you might like to work to learn about it and what potential roles might be, and also to make a key connection to follow up with over time.

Schwartz advised developing a list of questions to bring to the interview, and the questions shouldn’t include asking for a job or even a job interview, or asking the interviewee how much money he or she makes.

Schwartz also told the students to write a thank-you note to the interviewee, ideally a handwritten one.

“It’s so rare, it really stands out,” she said.

MBA student Huiying Huang, who’s graduating this year and wants to be a management consultant, said she found the informational interview tips particularly useful.

Michelle Scwhartz of Cambia Health Solutions gives students networking tips.
Michelle Scwhartz of Cambia Health Solutions gives students networking tips.

Students prep via mock interviews

Employers and students descended on the CH2M HILL Alumni Center ballroom for the mock interviews.
Employers and students descended on the CH2M HILL Alumni Center ballroom for the mock interviews.

Representatives from 23 employers helped College of Business students prepare to compete for jobs Feb. 20 during 5½ hours of mock interviews at the CH2M HILL Alumni Center.

Among the participating organizations were COB corporate partners Mutual of Enumclaw and adidas.

“We’ve developed a very strong relationship with the College of Business, and every time we interact with someone from the business school, we walk away amazed at how much of a partnership we’ve built and how cool the students are,” said Larry Beck, a trainer for Mutual of Enumclaw who was conducting mock interviews at Oregon State for the first time.

Added adidas recruiter Thomas Stuyvesant, also a first-time mock interviewer: “We get a lot of talent from OSU, so it’s important for us to maintain that relationship. It’s about pipelining and building goodwill and preparing these strong students to be successful in their careers. It could pay immediate dividends for us, or it could be down the road.”

Prior to the start of the afternoon session, Stuyvesant said he was “very impressed” with the students he’d talked to.

“It’s been great,” he said. “I’ve interviewed four so far, and they’ve all had obvious strengths. One of them, I wish he’d have applied for our internship; he’d have been a great candidate.”

Student reactions to the interviews were just as positive.

“I thought it was so helpful,” said Megan Goody, a junior in finance and management, following an interview with a representative from Target. “I haven’t done a lot of interviews, and she made me feel relaxed, at ease about this whole situation. I was so nervous going into it.

“I think you just need to relax before you answer a question and not let nerves get to you. Take a deep breath — you do have a second to think.”

Mohannad Hadi, a senior business information systems student, interviewed with a representative of the State of Oregon.

“It was really worth it,” he said. “She gave me a lot of advice. I’m planning to get a graduate degree, and she gave advice about what fields to go into.”

And he also learned a key lesson about being a strong interviewee.

“That I should relate my answers to experience listed in resume,” Hadi said. “That was really useful.”


Alumni return for Career Symposium

Cameron Stanislowski picks up tips from OSU alum Katie Barger, who works for Nike.
Cameron Stanislowski picks up tips from OSU alum Katie Barger, who works for Nike.

Representatives from more than 50 companies were at the CH2M HILL Alumni Center on Wednesday for the 29th annual Career Symposium for College of Business students majoring in interior design, graphic design, apparel design and merchandising management.

“It’s great to be involved with people in the industry, and it’s cool they brought it to us,” Hannah Bonilla said during a “life after graduation” networking session featuring Oregon State apparel design and merchandising management alumni who work for companies such as Aquent, Firebrand Sports, Gap and Macy’s.

“You hear what they do and think ‘Oh, I might want to do that too,’” said Makenzie Donnerberg, like Bonilla, a junior majoring in merchandising management.

Fred Meyer, Kohl’s, Nike and SmithCFI were the gold-level sponsors for the four-hour symposium, the theme of which was, “Yesterday’s Dream, Today’s Mission, Tomorrow’s Reality: Shaping the Future of Business & Design.”

Columbia Sportswear and Dream Careers were silver-level sponsors, and traditional-level sponsors included Accademia Italiana, Adidas, American Home & Stone, the American Society of Interior Designers, Buckle, Fine, Hanna Andersson, JanSport, Linn County, Lucy, The North Face, Pacific Furnishings and Pendleton Woolen Mills.

“It’s really fun to walk around and talk to people and see what they’re doing and figure out what I’ll actually do after graduation,” said John Conner, a senior in apparel design. “I’m interested in sportswear but am keeping everything open.”

Senior Cameron Stanislowski, who’s studying merchandising management, said his dream job would be to work in footwear design or footwear product development, ideally in the areas of cleated, training or basketball shoes.

“It’s so useful to have your past classmates come back and talk to you,” he said. “You can network and really find the heart of what you’re into as you prepare to make that transition from graduation into the possible industries you might be in.”

More than 390 students attended.

Claire Rose, an OSU grad working for Macy's, talks to students at the symposium.
Claire Rose, an OSU grad working for Macy’s, talks to students at the symposium.

Accelerator cohort sharpens the focus

Refining the market, retooling the message, reshaping the strategy, reviewing the overall approach – those are the objectives every other Tuesday afternoon when the OSU Advantage Accelerator’s clients give presentations to each other and a group of volunteer mentors from the business community.

The winter 2015 cohort, its third, began its five-month course at the Accelerator the first week of January. Under the co-direction of John Turner and Mark Lieberman and with the assistance of student interns, the Accelerator works with entrepreneurs from Oregon State and the mid-Willamette Valley at large to commercialize their innovations; it focuses on high-growth, traded-sector startups and early-stage businesses.

On Feb. 17, the current cohort presented for the third time – on the way to a total of 10 – as the entrepreneurs tune up their plans and their pitches.

“This group is just getting rolling,” Turner said. “To really appreciate the progress they’ll make, you need to see the evolution over time. Inevitably, you want to compare this cohort to the last, but this one is doing well. They’re making good progress, as good or better progress as the last cohort.”

Six companies comprise the latest group: Beauty Leaf, Inc.; Bridgeway Wellness; Danio Discovery; E-MSion, Northwest Research Laboratories, Inc., and Pure Living.

Beauty Leaf deals with plant-based skin care products, and Bridgeway’s goal is to operate a clinic for tissue regenerative therapies. Danio’s technology involves using zebrafish for pharmaceutical toxicology assessments, E-MSion has come up with an add-on for mass spectrometers, and Northwest Research Laboratories has developed a cleaning-audit product for facilities such as hotels and hospitals. Pure Living’s idea is a website that collects data from different resources regarding the potentially toxic effects of certain chemical compounds on expectant mothers.

“Demo Day is the end point of the process we’re going through now,” Turner said, referring to a June 25 event at which the entrepreneurs will present to an audience at Corvallis’ Majestic Theatre. “We’ll talk about their pitches, work on their pitches, work with them individually, go through the pitch, provide feedback a little at a time, go through the whole process.”

The OSU Advantage Accelerator is part of the South Willamette Valley Regional Accelerator Network, known as RAIN, created by the Legislature in 2013. RAIN has locations in Corvallis and Eugene, and those cities, along with Albany and Springfield, are partners in the network as well.

For more information, visit http://advantage.oregonstate.edu/advantage-accelerator.

OSU Advantage Accelerator Helping to Create Tomorrow’s Business Leaders

Oregon State University Advantage Accelerator

The College of Business at Oregon State University is invested in entrepreneurship, local business development, and in seeing our students succeed. These are just a few reasons why the college created the Austin Entrepreneurship Program (AEP) and provided $380,000 to help initially fund the OSU Advantage Accelerator (OSUAA). The OSUAA operates an incubator for organizations that are still in their early stages of commercialization, providing important support services to entrepreneurs at critical points in the development of emerging ventures.

One such venture is Bosky Optics, a renewable and customizable eyewear company launched right here at OSU by students Alex Cruft and Matthew Miner. Cruft, an Economics major who just graduated in June, and Miner, a senior Renewable Materials major from the College of Forestry, met while living in the dorms and quickly discovered that they had a flair for invention and entrepreneurship.

In April of 2012, Cruft and Miner started with the simple concept of providing renewable, high-quality sunglasses made with wood frames that could be customized with designs from a laser engraver. By November of that year, the duo had created the first pairs using the laser engraver in the Weatherford Garage and started selling them online. While Cruft says that their young business was ‘doing ok,’ the students jumped at the opportunity to join the AEP’s Austin Lab.

In order to get into the Austin Lab, Cruft and Miner first had to apply by pitching their business plan to Austin Entrepreneurship Program Project Manager Dale McCauley and Director Sandy Neubaum.

“Joining the Austin Entrepreneurship Program was tremendously beneficial for us,” said Cruft. “Dale and Sandy were incredible mentors and motivators for us, and were a significant driving force behind the scenes for Bosky Optics,” he said.

“We saw tremendous growth from Bosky this year as they worked hard to develop their branding, marketing, and business strategy,” said McCauley. “The Austin Lab has the Weatherford Garage makerspace that provides students with access to state-of-the-art equipment such as 3d printers, CNC machines, and laser cutters, which helped enable Bosky to completely re-develop their product line. The Austin Lab also provided them with the space and equipment for furthering their product development by shifting their focus to customizable eyewear using our laser engraver,” he said.

After working in the Austin Lab, Bosky Optics soon expanded and gained some momentum, managing to sell their products in 30 different countries and expanding their product line to include bioplastic ski goggles as well as the renewable wood sunglasses. While their sales were respectable and still growing, Cruft and Miner decided  to take the next step by joining the OSU Advantage Accelerator.

“Bosky Optics is a great example of a student-run company that has all the ingredients to be successful; smart, ambitious founders with a great product and a good sense of what their customers want,” said John Turner, co-director of the OSUAA. “We enjoy working with Alex and Matt and look forward to contributing to their success. They have just started our 5-month program which will help them refine their business model, and grow Bosky Optics into a successful and sustainable business,” he said.

Through the OSUAA, companies have the opportunity to accelerate their success based on their individual needs. The goal of the OSUAA program is to assist in the development of new businesses through steady, controlled growth via individualized guidance to achieve greater, longer-lasting success.

“I originally had another career path carved out, but something just clicked my sophomore year,” said Cruft. “I decided I wanted to be my own boss and have more of a say in what I do for work. Joining the Austin Lab was a great way to get some structure and guide us in the right direction, and now that we’ve ‘graduated’ and moved on to the Advantage Accelerator, our approach to successfully launching and expanding our own company is getting really refined. Mark Lieberman and John Turner have been tremendously helpful giving us the direction we need, balancing constructive criticism and praise for the work we’ve done so far,” he said.

Bocky Optics sunglasses
Some of the custom designs that Bosky Optics offers on their sunglasses

Cruft says that the Accelerator is helping Bosky Optics expand beyond being an exclusively online business. But before they can get there, the company needs to increase their customized manufacturing capacity. That’s why the company recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise enough capital to purchase their own laser engraver.

Miner ventured out across various online design forums to recruit artists to create new custom designs for the company. Miner was able to find 13 artists from five different continents to create new custom designs for Bosky’s sunglasses.

“We’re not trying to only sell wooden sunglasses,” said Miner. “It’s about selling art on eyewear, which really hasn’t been done like this before. These products are sustainable, but you should buy them for their style and performance, which is what truly makes them stand out,” he said.

For their Kickstarter campaign, Bosky is offering three exclusive models of sunglasses in a classic wayfarer design.  After picking the model of sunglasses, buyers then choose their favorite graphic to be engraved on the sunglasses.