Business of the Month: January 2017 Tiburon Fire Protection District
Did you know our local fire department is among the less than 3-percent of all fire departments in the nation to achieve a rating of class-1? This is the highest rating given by the Insurance Service Office, and it brings the department's premium costs down to the lowest price possible.
Some of the criteria this distinction is based on are: personnel, equipment, water systems, programs, fire protection, education and alarm systems. When Richard Pearce took over as Tiburon's Fire Chief in 2002, the department was in good shape but Rich says, "It's always been my goal to be even better."
To this end, he implemented a number of new programs: the Disaster Preparedness Program, the county-wide Get Ready Program, the Snap Siren – an emergency notification system – and he bought Tiburon's first fire boat from the City of Los Angeles for $1. "We wanted to see if it was worthwhile to have a fire boat," Rich says. This experiment surpassed all expectations. After going through a number of different boats, using a grant fund from FEMA, the department recently bought a new state-of-the-art catamaran with the latest safety features and electrical upgrades.
Rich is a home-town boy, born and raised in Tiburon, and his parents, Mel and Annabelle, still live in the house where he grew up. He went through the Reed school system and graduated from Redwood High School in 1978. During high school, Rich was a Fire Explorer Scout and a volunteer fire cadet in Tiburon. "In the late 70s, I got all excited about the paramedic program and the fire service," he says. "That's when I got the fever." He also became good friends with the crew at the San Rafael Fire Department. After high school, he went into the paramedic program at City College of San Francisco and, the day he graduated, he was hired by the San Francisco Public Health Department where he stayed for the next five years. "As a boy who grew up in Marin, that was a culture shock and very enlightening," he says.
In 1984, when San Rafael had an opening for firefighter/paramedic, Rich applied, was hired and joined his old buddies on the crew. In 1987, Rich and a business partner took over Marin Ambulance and expanded the business to cover, not only Marin, but also San Francisco and Sonoma counties, with over 100 employees. In 1994, there was an opening in Tiburon for a firefighter/paramedic, and Tiburon Fire Chief Rosemary Bliss hired him. "I was very happy to get back into my favorite service role," he says. Before long, he became Captain in charge of Fire Station 10 at Trestle Glen and, in 2002, when Rosemary retired, he was selected to take over her position as Tiburon Fire Chief.
That same year, Rich and his wife, Christine, were married. They and their two Shar-Pei dogs, Chester and Duke, live in Tiburon, not far from where Rich grew up. He says, "I am very fortunate to both live and work in Tiburon."
Business of the Month: October 2016
Meet John Snell of Foodniks, who hosts the Chamber Mixer this month. A renovation in 2015 transformed Foodniks into a more upscale yet casual space, with warm rustic accents including a reclaimed barn wood ceiling and distressed pine tables..it is a breakfast, lunch and dinner cafe now, with wine & beer on tap. Our mixer will be exactly one year from the date of this renovation. Come celebrate the innovation and renovation!
No newcomer to the food industry, John has been interested in the culinary arts since his Eagle Scout days in upstate New York. After two years, he left college to be sous-chef at a local hotel, becoming its food and beverage director, then moving on as executive chef at a three-chain hotel in Iowa.
"That was a whole level of intensity," he says, and after several years, he left to work in a small, upscale Swiss restaurant in Arizona where he met Bradley Ogden. "I was always being asked if I had any formal training," he says, "so I enrolled at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park (New York). That was an awesome 22-month experience." He graduated with an Associate of Occupational Science degree in 1989.
Ogden had just opened Larkcreek Inn, and John was invited to join him. "That was 1990, and all the guys who worked there then are now either executive chefs all over the country or own their own restaurants," John says. He then spent four years at Smith Ranch Homes as executive sous-chef with Heidi Krahling, who now owns Insalata's.
In 1995, John and a partner opened The Meetinghouse in San Francisco, which was named one of the top 100 American restaurants by Zagat Guide in 1998. John bought "Let's Eat" at The Cove in 2006 and changed its name the following year. He says he chose "Foodniks" because it symbolizes someone who enjoys food but is also fun and not too serious.
Last year, he completely gutted the shop, expanding into the space left vacant next door, giving him a total of 2,500-square-feet. The renovation was supposed to take three months; it took five months. Opening day was one year, exactly, before the upcoming chamber mixer that will be held on Wednesday, September 28, from 5 to 7 p.m. This mixer will be Foodniks' first year anniversary celebration with balloons and music, plus a big birthday cake.
When Brick & Bottle closed earlier this year, John immediately grabbed its sous-chef, Cesar Rugerio, who is now chef de cuisine at Foodniks. Rugerio produces nearly everything from scratch in the Foodniks kitchen - seen through the large glass window in back. The ambiance is casual-comfortable, with a reclaimed barn wood ceiling, distressed pine tables and banquette seating. Local artists' works hang on the walls, and pop rock music plays in the background.
Foodniks has wine and beer available on tap. In addition to offering frozen entrees and casseroles, plus take-out entrees, party menus, salads, side dishes, hot and cold appetizers, all made fresh daily, there are box lunches, perfect for a day of hiking or biking.
Foodniks is now open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Hours: Monday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Tuesday through Saturday, 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Closed Sundays but will be open for brunch starting in November. Phone: 415-383-3663 or click here for the menu and more information.
Business of the Month: August 2016 Zohre Grothe, Marin Land Company
Zohre Grothe is our chamber's very first ambassador. The local realtor, CEO and owner of Marin Land Company, will chair the newly created Ambassador Committee, an appointed group which will serve as the backbone of the chamber's membership programs and provide a crucial link between the chamber, its members and the community at large.
Zohre has lived and worked in Tiburon since the 1980s and has deep connections in the local business community. A member of the chamber for the past 25 years, she also is active in the Tiburon-Belvedere Rotary Club, is a volunteer docent at the China Cabin, and is a member of the Belvedere-Tiburon Library Foundation, the Belvedere-Tiburon Landmarks Society and the Richardson Bay Yacht Club.
Zohre is a licensed California Realtor and member of the Marin (MAR), San Francisco and California Association of Realtors (CAR), and the National Association of Realtors (NAR) as well as a professional interior designer.
Zohre has plans to encourage more participation in the Tiburon Peninsula Chamber of Commerce and is looking forward to promoting her hometown chamber. "I am honored and privileged to be the first ambassador for the Tiburon Chamber of Commerce," she says.Business of the Month: June 2016 Chandler Coaching
Only one person in four spends time doing what they love every day at work says leadership coach and facilitator Pauline (Polly) Chandler. The Tiburon resident contends that if this situation can be changed by activating people’s strengths that company morale could go up along with increased performance.
“This is even more critical for small businesses where resources are limited,” Polly says. “If you can maximize the potential of each person, you can increase productivity, performance and engagement by 30 to 40-percent.”
Since she founded her own company, Chandler Coaching, in 2013, Polly has worked with clients of all ages and backgrounds in the nonprofit, corporate and public sectors, and she has helped both individuals and teams in small to mid-sized businesses across the country.
“I enjoy helping emerging leaders and managers to accelerate their performance by maximizing their strengths, talents and passions,” she says. “My mission is to help people leverage their knowledge and skills to clarify their core purpose and to meet their personal and professional goals.”
Among her many certifications are those from the College of Executive Coaching, a post-graduate executive certificate program; Strengths Strategy Inc.; the Gallup Certified Strengths Center; and she is an Associate Certified Coach for International Coaching Federation. In addition, she has a Masters of Education degree in Management from Antioch University and a Masters of Education in Science Education from Arcadia University.
Polly grew up near Lake Minnetonka in Minnesota, earned her B.S. degree from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in 1981 in Resource Management and Environmental Education and became a naturalist at a nature center in Delaware.
She met her future husband, Greg Chanis, 20 years ago when they both worked for a land trust in Massachusetts while Polly was teaching science. Married three years later, they took a big step in 2004 when they took a year’s sabbatical. “We bought a truck-camper, put our stuff in storage and left the day after Labor Day to tour as many national and state parks as possible,” Polly says.
“We were in awe of the tremendous beauty but also shocked at the state of our natural environment,” she says. “There were air pollution issues, too much development, and threatened water quality.” This experience influenced her to change her focus from teaching math and science to teaching leaders who could then help communities and the planet to thrive. She went back to school so she could help improve the situation.
After her second Masters degree, she served as the first Service Learning Coordinator at Keene State College connecting students with community and environmental challenges. She was also hired to a faculty position at Antioch University New England and helped launched their new MBA in Sustainability, one of the first three in the nation. She was then promoted to also serve as Chair of the Department of Management.
Polly and Greg moved to Santa Barbara in 2013 where he took a job with the county and she founded Chandler Coaching. Last December, they moved to Tiburon when Greg took over as Tiburon Town Manager after Peggy Curran retired.
Each year, Polly donates her time and energy in coaching and training for the environment. Last year, she volunteered to help the Monterey Aquarium. This year it is the Point Reyes National Seashore Association.
Although she has only lived locally for the past six months, Polly already has become involved. In addition to joining the Tiburon Peninsula Chamber of Commerce, she was a volunteer for the rec department’s Race on Angel Island, at the San Francisco International Ocean Film Festival, and is a volunteer with 10,000 Degrees and Point Reyes National Seashore Association.
Polly loves being outdoors, enjoying hiking, sailing and biking balanced off by her playing classical piano.
To learn more, go to PollyChandlerCoaching.com or call her at 603-730-4210.
Business of the Month: May 2016 Bill Lukens, Attorney–at-Law
Meet one of our chamber’s newest members – Tiburon attorney William M. (Bill) Lukens.
Bill says being a trial lawyer is perfect for him because he loves to argue. “My mother loved to debate, and I remember having all kinds of great political debates with her even as a five-year-old kid,” he says.
Bill grew up in San Dimas in the San Gabriel Valley on an orange ranch that his great grandfather purchased in the 1880’s. He attended Webb School in Claremont and graduated from Berkeley in 1960 with a business/real estate major but decided to stay in Northern California. “L.A. started growing after World War II, and it wasn’t the same,” he says. He went on to the U. C. Hastings College of the Law, graduating in 1964, as an Associate Editor of the Hastings Law Journal.
That same year he joined the law firm of Pillsbury Madison & Sutro and moved to Tiburon. He recalled, as a nine-year-old, sailing past here on a cruise boat during a family vacation to San Francisco. “That was a very poignant experience. I remember seeing it as a magical little town on the Bay, and it looked like a great place to live,” he says. He later visited Sam’s with friends and says he liked, even better, what he saw up close.
“When I was growing up, my dad worked at Columbia Pictures in Hollywood and spent three hours a day driving to and from his job from our ranch. I always thought that was too much driving so when I learned there was a ferryboat from Tiburon to the City, I knew that’s where I wanted to live,” he says.
His first rented home was right on Raccoon Strait, and he recalls watching whalers floating close by his deck with whales strapped to both sides of the boat on their way to their processing plant in Richmond.
Bill met his future wife, Susan Formanek, while commuting on the ferry. Her father Art, a retired Army colonel who was a B-24 pilot in WWII, owned the old Harbor Light Bar on Main Street – where Vineyard Vines now sits.
The two were married in 1967, and in 1971, Bill left the big firm in the City to open his own practice sharing offices with Chuck Patterson in a suite upstairs at The Boardwalk. Bill Kuhns shared the space with him in 1975. Bill says, “I was fortunate to have two great mentors who lived locally – Allan Littman and Denis Rice, who were also my good friends.”
Over the years, Bill served on Tiburon’s Board of Adjustments – now Design/Review -- and then on the Planning Commission. He and Susan also began to raise a family: Peter, Stephen and Maggie.
The pair bought the Paolino House property in Old Tiburon, nicknamed “The Manor,” from its then owner, Ellen Bennett, a 1930s Hollywood star. Bill says many of their friends thought they were crazy, and he admits it and its grounds needed an enormous amount of work. It took the couple 18 years to turn it into the impressive home and gardens it now is.
In 1980, Bill moved his practice to San Francisco and eventually formed the Lukens Law Group, staying there for the next 34 years. He honed his skills and made a name for himself in the legal world as a trial lawyer, specializing in business fraud, property disputes and lender liability litigation.
“I don’t like arrogance or dishonesty, and I really enjoy helping people out of their business troubles, especially with banks,” he says. “It’s very hard for little businessmen to protect themselves because it’s so expensive to process civil cases.”
He got one of those cases shortly after moving his practice to San Francisco when he was hired by a family in Sebastopol who were in the apple processing business and were about to lose everything to the Bank of America. Bill and a team of lawyers won a $47 million jury verdict against the Bank in Santa Rosa. The judgment was eventually reversed by the appellate courts after a hard and long fought battle –10 years of litigation – but the family was able to keep its home ranch. This is now one of California’s most cited cases on lender liability issues. Two years later, Bill went on to win a $65 million jury verdict in Monterey County against Wells Fargo to save a large strawberry operation. Those verdicts still stand as the largest in their respective counties.
In December 2013, when his building in SF was purchased by Morgan Stanley, Bill closed his San Francisco offices and returned to his old office Tiburon – upstairs at The Boardwalk - to share space again with Bill Kuhns, who was still there.
Bill warns would-be clients that you can’t just file a case just because you’ve been wronged. “You’ve got to have a winning case, and only an experienced lawyer can tell you that,” he says. “Too many lawyers either don’t know any better or need the business.”
Bill says he’s happy to have his office in Tiburon again. “It’s fun to be back here and to work with locals,” he says in an invitation to new clients. “My motto is, “Have voice, will travel.”
Attorney Bill Lukens is at The Boardwalk Shopping Center, upstairs in Suite A. Phone, 415-433-3000. For more information, go to wwws.lukenslaw.com
Business of the Month: April 2016 Chief Francis O'Neill Irish Music Festival
It seems that Tiburon has a new tradition: The Irish Music Festival. The festival, held the last weekend of February, was such a huge success this year, that founder Tom O’Neill says he plans to hold it again next year.
This is good news for the many hundreds of people who came to Tiburon for the two-day extravaganza. Belvedere Police Chief Tricia Seyler says the security cameras posted on the Tiburon boundary showed a 30-percent bump of cars entering and leaving on Friday night, and the Saturday evening show at the Corinthian Yacht Club was sold out by Saturday morning.
Tom was inspired to organize this festival in memory of his Great Uncle Francis O’Neill who spent years collecting Irish tunes that were dying out. Event co-chair was Eric Schoenberg of Schoenberg Guitars.
On Friday night, Highland bagpiper David Winter strolled back and forth from The Lodge to the end of Ark Row as he played traditional Irish music. Tom joined him on one of his rounds and later quipped, “I love bagpipes from a distance, but when you walk next to them, they’re not as nice,” and David admits to having hearing problems. He later switched to the quieter Irish bagpipes called “uilleann” (pronounced ill-an) when he later moved indoors to play.
Visitors could choose between five venues that hosted entertainers throughout the evening.
The Lodge at Tiburon and Servino Ristorante sported groups playing lively, pub-type Irish music. In contrast, Caffé Acri had highbrow music with a spectacular harpist and guitarist who played music composed to the poetry of W. B. Yeates.
At Sam’s, a woman fiddler and singer from Italy and a man who played guitar and harmonica paired up to give a rousing performance of Irish music, and at Tiburon Wine, a husband (guitar) and wife (mandolin) sang music ranging from sophisticated to very lively. Further down Ark Row, at Eric Schoenberg’s guitar shop, a harpist and a guitarist teamed up to play more serious type Irish music.
“Every venue was full all night long,” Tom says. “Some people stayed in one spot the whole time and others made the rounds.” He added that in addition to the hundreds coming from out-of-town, there also were many locals enjoying the evening. “I could see a lot of people knew each other,” he says. “There was lots of camaraderie.”
On Saturday evening, all the CYC’s 245 ballroom chairs were full. “I wanted the show to have a very tight schedule,” says Tom. “It wasn’t simply music; it was theater. The problem was, when I timed out all the acts beforehand, I never gave a thought to applause.” There was such extended clapping, the scheduled show had to be cut short at the end. The entertainers later told him they had never experienced such an enthusiastic crowd.
Téada, whose five-member band had flown in from Ireland the day before, was in the featured spot that night. They played authentic 1916 Irish music to commemorate the Irish uprising that took place 100 years ago, staged in front of a huge screen showing photographs of the Easter uprising.
An exhausted but very pleased Tom O’Neill says, “I now have a whole year to plan next year’s event.”
For more information, visit Tiburon Irish Music Festival
Business of the Month: January 2016
Business of the Month: December 2015
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