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Best of the Snoqualmie Valley: businesses share secrets of success
This edition of Snoqualmie Valley Living celebrates what’s best in the Valley, as voted by readers of the Snoqualmie Valley Record.
Each year, readers pick their top local businesses, public servants, educators — their favorite people, places to shop, eat and play.
Here, the people behind the best Valley businesses share the goals, lessons and philosophies that keep their customers smiling.
Smith, Brown, Sterling
Larry Brown, president at the legal firm of Smith, Brown, Sterling, P.S., has done business for 10 years, nine of them in Fall City.
For Brown, a Fall City resident, the most important factor in his success is his great staff and supportive neighbors in the Valley.
“We connect to our customers by being involved in our community — in the schools, churches, and in community-based organizations like the Snoqualmie Valley Chamber of Commerce, Encompass, Falls Little League, Mount Si Senior Center, and the Fall City Community Association to name a few,” Brown said.
“The people in the Valley are terrific,” Brown added. “They’re a pleasure to do business with — and you can’t beat the commute.”
Tanya Boyle has owned the 13-year-old Huxdotter Coffee in North Bend for the past seven years.
She credits her employees with Huxdotter’s sucess.
“I can’t be here 24/7, so it’s very important to have people that you can trust and respect,” Boyle said.
She keeps her customers coming back by putting herself in their shoes.
“If I go somewhere, I want good service from nice people,” Boyle said. “Customers should always leave satisfied.”
“This is a great place to do business,” Boyle added. “People appreciate the small things, like decorations and flowers. People here are very loyal.” Plus, reader votes show that the Valley also boasts a mean cup of joe.
In business since June of 2009, the Riverbend Cafe in North Bend has based its success on its product and customer connection.
“We have tried to offer the best quality food and keep our prices affordable,” owner Diann Pattermann said. “These are rough times for people and we appreciate their loyalty.”
Pattermann and her staff have worked to create an atmosphere at the restaurant that helps patrons feel like they are in an extension of their own homes.
“We are a local café in such a beautiful area,” she said. “Our customers are fast becoming our extended family. It’s wonderful getting to know everyone, and that is no doubt the best thing about being in the business.”
Pattermann thanked her loyal, supportive customers and “amazing staff, past and present. Their talents shine. We are extremely grateful.”
Jeff Warren State Farm
North Bend resident Jeff Warren opened the doors at Jeff Warren State Farm Insurance & Financial Services Feb. 1, 2008, on Snoqualmie Ridge.
He is backed up by a family of insurance companies who have been in business since 1922.
“Our company’s founding president, G.J. Mecherle, said, ‘The standard of success will eventually be the measure of the service given.’ That is what makes State Farm and our office successful,” Warren said.
“We strive to help all the people of Snoqualmie Valley understand the importance of insurance and financial services and how these products work,” Warren said. “We will do this for anyone at no charge, whether or not they move their insurance to our office.”
Gateway Gas & Deli
Brad and Jennifer Oberlander have operated Gateway Gas and Deli on Snoqualmie Ridge more than a year and a half. They count their customer service, convenience, store cleanliness, friendliness, employee dedication — and what may well be the best deli chicken for miles — as main factors in their success.
The owners and staff greet everyone when they come in, know many customers by name, and help them out at the pump whenever necessary. They also make sure the chicken case stays well-stocked.
North Bend Automotive
Katie Dennis, manager at North Bend Automotive, considers her customers and their word-of-mouth referrals the main factors in success, hands down.
“They can truly make or break a company,” she said.
North Bend Automotive prides itself on its integrity and service.
“A lot of companies upsell too much to soon,” Dennis said. “We have a personal feel to our company, being an independent shop, and we are honest with our customers.”
Sno Falls Credit Union
Sno Falls Credit Union has been serving the financial needs of people who live or work in the Valley since 1957.
“We’re local,” said Linda Larion, president and CEO at Sno Falls, headquartered at 9025 Meadowbrook Way in Snoqualmie. “When a member deposits money to a savings account, they can count on us to invest that money in consumer loans for other members. The money stays here in the Valley, helping other residents.”
Sno Falls Credit Union has five full-service branches located in downtown Snoqualmie, on the Snoqualmie Ridge, in North Bend, Fall City, Duvall and a student-run branch in the Mount Si High School Commons.
“We have more than 8,000 members, most of them live right here in the Valley,” Larion said. “They are not only our members, they are friends and neighbors. It’s nice to have face-to-face contact with the people you do business with.”
Bella Vita Spa and Salon
Co-owners Marie Everett and Angela Riley operate the 10-year-old Bella Vita Spa and Salon in downtown Snoqualmie.
They consider their clientele, and great hometown spirit, as crucial factors in their success.
Everett and Riley say they have a welcoming salon, reasonable prices and a place where people can relax and feel good about themselves.
They appreciate the Valley’s small town atmosphere, and enjoy getting involved in community activities, including schools, chamber events and local fairs and festivals.
Scott’s Dairy Freeze
The iconic Valley burger stand, Scott’s Dairy Freeze, will celebrate its 59th anniversary on July 1. The Dairy Freeze has made its name selling good food at a reasonable price, hot and cooked to order.
“We try to treat each customer as an individual with individual tastes,” owner Ken Hearing said. He thanks all the employees who, over the years, have followed the business plan, and to the loyal customers who have sought out Dairy Freeze even when it wasn’t convenient.
“Everybody has to account to somebody,” Hearing said. “What that means is that my customer is also my boss and my employer.”
Secret Sun Tanning
Erik Miller has owned the five-year-old Secret Sun Tanning on Snoqualmie Ridge for one year.
“I take pride in my salon,” said Miller, a 10-year tanning business veteran who turned business around at the Ridge salon. “I work seven days a week and love every minute of it. Find something you enjoy doing and it’s like adding seven extra days on to your week.”
“My customers are what keep me going,” Miller added. “Without them, my salon wouldn’t be anything. This is not just a tanning salon, but a place where customers come for good company.”
Working for a big chain for several years, Miller always wanted to try his own approach. He gets to know customers and makes sure to remember their special occasions.
“It’s taking the extra step that really makes the difference,” he said. “The Valley is the perfect community where people are born and raised, and stay living in the area.”
Mt Si Sports + Fitness
Ben Cockman opened Mt Si Sports + Fitness seven years ago.
“We’re a success because the product and services we offer are affordable and an excellent value,” he said. “We have all the resources needed to help anyone along the path to fitness, but the special thing about us is our comfortable and inviting atmosphere.”
The best way to connect with customers, Cockman said, is by maintaining a presence in his business. It is also important to listen to clients and to grow and change to meet their needs.
“We really believe in the benefits of exercise and enjoy sharing in the success that so many of our members achieve,” he said. “Encouragement is always free.”
One family has operated Remlinger Farms in Carnation for more than 60 years. Today, Will and Diane Hart run the attraction.
The Harts focus on continued efforts to always improve service and surroundings for guests as keys to their success.
“We are always striving to meet the customer’s actual needs, making special efforts to perform above and beyond expectations,” Will said. “We also continue to improve our communication connection, via Web improvements and Internet shopping.”
The Hart’s favorite part of doing business in the Valley is the area’s small-town appeal, which allows for closer knit business and customer relationships.
“That’s really nice these days,” Will said.
Mount Si Chiropractic
A chiropractor for more than a decade, Dr. Bradley Kaasa has practiced in the Snoqualmie Valley for nine years.
He operates Mount Si Chiropractic Clinic at 213 Bendigo Blvd. in North Bend.
“I believe the success of my business comes from creating long-lasting patient-doctor relationships,” Kaasa said, “treating each patient as if they were a member of my own family, and by truly caring and listening to each patient’s health concerns.
“I grew up here in the Valley, so to have the privilege to practice here is very meaningful to me,” he added.