Sunday, November 10, 2013

13. Born in Oregon

Ever since I moved to the States in 2010, I've been trying to make sense of my new environment - Oregon - through traveling, university lectures, random conversations, and my own research. Born and raised in the fifth largest city in Russia, I could not imagine that such a majorly rural region as Oregon could possibly be the homeland of such big brand names as Nike or Columbia, which are so famous and popular in Russia, as well as everywhere else in the world. Learning about the history of Oregon-based brands, their indestructible ambition, and endless creativity despite the rainy climate has been inspiring me to get better with every step I take and feel proud of being part of this state and its culture.

Here is my list of big brands that I discovered were born in Oregon and have flourished outside the state.

1. Nike

Image via Oeil Jumratsilpa
The company was initially founded as Blue Ribbon Sports by a University of Oregon track runner Phil Knight and his coach Bill Bowerman in 1964. In 1971 the company was renamed Nike after the Greek goddess of victory. The Swoosh logo was created by Carolyn Davidson, a graphic design student at Portland State University the same year. Now headquartered in Beaverton, Oregon, Nike is one of the world's largest suppliers of athletic apparel and gear. I recommend reading the entire history of the brand if you're interested in the details.

Also, check out this inspirational video that demonstrates how Nike's professional atmosphere and Oregon's culture intertwine.

2. Columbia Sportswear Company

Image via Portland Athletic & Outdoor
This sportswear company originally started as a small family business called Columbia Hat Company in Portland, Oregon, in 1938. As Gert Boyle, the daughter of the owners and present chairman of the company, designed the first fishing vest in 1960, the company was renamed Columbia Sportswear Company. Today, Gert Boyle's son Tim Boyle is the company's CEO.

Here is the entire history of Columbia told by Gert Boyle. I love the brand's core idea, "Success comes to those who try." And my favorite phrase from the clip is, "Try. Try harder. Try differently. Then try again."

3. Taco Time

Image via Martillo de Salvacion
This Mexican fast-food restaurant chain was founded by a former University of Oregon student Ron Fraedrick in Eugene, Oregon, in 1959. Today, the company has more than 300 franchises in the United States, Canada, the Netherlands Antilles, and Kuwait.

4. Tazo

Image via Wikipedia
Tazo Tea Company was founded by Steve Smith in Portland, Oregon, in 1994. Looking for investment partners, Smith asked Starbucks' CEO Howard Schultz for cooperation in 1998, so Starbucks bought Tazo for $8.1 million in 1999. Since then, the Tazo tea brand has been been offered at most Starbucks locations.

5. Dutch Bros. Coffee

Image via Phoenix New Times
Dutch Bros. Coffee is the country’s largest privately held drive-thru coffee company headquartered in Grants Pass, Oregon. Founded by dairy farmer brothers Dane and Travis Boersma in 1992, the company now holds nearly 200 locations in Oregon, Washington, California, Idaho, Nevada, Colorado, and Arizona. Considering its great national success, it may soon very well become the next leader in the coffee industry.

Am I missing any other big Oregon-based brands that should be on my list?

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