Dad was an entrepreneur.

He was always starting businesses, or trying to help others start them. When I was very small he operated Steve’s Lawnmowing Service. We still have the sign for this venture sitting out in the Custom Box Service warehouse. Nick loves it. So do I.

He also sold World’s Finest Chocolates. He would bring boxes of chocolate bars with him to church, and sell them after Sunday School. I can remember standing on the front lawn of the Mormon church in Canby, waiting for Dad to sell chocolate bars to all the parents. (I can also remember getting into a box of chocolate bars one day, and eating two of them before Dad found me, smothered in goo.)

He tried lots of other things, too: he was a flight instructor, he sold Shaklee (I think), he raised nursery stock.

But his first real success came with Harvest Mills. Dad started Harvest Mills in the mid-seventies. He built a wheat grinder from scratch. He like it so much — and so did his friends — that he decided to sell them. He developed a system for manufacturing them in a production line. Then, further capitalizing on the craze for health food, he developed the Little Harvey food dryers. These were an enormous success, and before long he had purchased one of the first plots of land in what was to become the Woodburn Industrial Park. Harvest Mills was a success.

Dad sold the business in the late-seventies for a large sum of money. For reasons that are no longer clear to me, he never saw full payment for the business. (My memory is: he sold the business for $300,000 payable in ten yearly installments, and that the buyer went bankrupt and somehow we only saw the first payment.)

The next six or seven years were tense. It was the early eighties, and the economic outlook was poor. Dad moved from one sales position to another: selling staples, selling industrial supplies, selling boxes. On his fortieth birthday — 31 July 1985 — he left his job as a box salesman and founded what would become his biggest success: Custom Box Service.

Died died ten days before the business turned ten-years-old, but his children (and nephew) have kept it running since. None of us are entrepreneurs, though. We don’t have that drive. Sometimes I sense a glimmer of it inside myself, but I recognize that in order to prosper as an entrepreneur, you need to be chasing a dream that you believe in one-hundred percent. Boxes are not my dream.

When I was a boy, Dad tried to get me to develop an entrepreneurial spirit, with mixed success. He encouraged me to sell seeds from a magazine. (I was too shy to knock on doors.) He tried to teach me to peel chittum bark that could be sold to god knows where for use as a natural laxative. (Carving bark from trees didn’t appeal to me.)

The only entrepreneurial bits that took hold were those that I developed myself. In fourth grade, in order to generate money for new comic books, I would take my old comic books to school and sell them to the other students. I would take my Star Wars trading cards and repackage them, selling each thick package for twenty-five cents each. I sold my Hardy Boys books in much the same way.

Now, for the first time in twenty years, I’m beginning to feel a bit of that entrepreneurial spirit. I have an idea, a plan, a vision. I know of a way to do what I love and to make money at it.

I will become an entrepreneur.

17 Replies to “Entrepreneurial”

  1. danny says:

    Your dad had a die heart spirit. From rags to riches and then back to rags and again to riches. Who was the inspiration behind that? Entrepreneur in true sense. His story is really inspiring who r still in search of success. Hardship always pay. Now u want to be a entrepreneur. Hoping best for your future! Might have that ability in the blood.

  2. Amy Jo says:

    When do you plan to unveil your new venture? I’m struggling to figure out which of the many loves you you’ll pursue . . .

  3. Dave says:

    Actually, those Little Harvey dryers are the way JD and I first met. My parents lived a couple of miles away and went to JD’s parents’ place to buy a food dryer because they’d heard how great they were for making fruit chips and other dried fruit things (fruit leather, etc. before the big food conglomerates started calling them “fruit rollups”). If I recall correctly, JD and I played in their yard while Steve sold my parents the dryer (one that he sold cheap because the racks weren’t level and for some reason people wouldn’t buy it- apparently they thought that bananas cared whether they were dried on a level screen or one that was sloped by 3-4 degrees).

  4. lee says:

    Heh…food dryers. My mom bought one of those when I was a kid. I remember spending a great deal of time during my summers spreading chopped bell peppers, chopped onions, sliced apricots and plums onto the trays, scraping the dried food off later and packaging everything in plastic bags which were then heat sealed.

    Other kids got to go swimming during the summer, but I got to dessicate food and make jam. Oh yeah, good times. 😛

    But, even then, as a wee youngster, having a food dryer never made sense to me. We lived in Central California, where days were routinely very hot and very dry. Why couldn’t we just put the trays out in the sun and cover the food with some cheesecloth?

  5. Drew says:

    Selling out to web advertising? Computer Resources buy out? Clever story idea?

    Inquiring minds want to know.

  6. J.D. Roth says:

    Right now I think I could make a million dollars by harnessing the temperature fluctuations in my body. Care to design that device for me, Drew?

  7. mrs darling says:

    Dave bananas dont care if they’re dried on a sloping shelf but stuff like fruit leather really does matter. Imagine all the liguid berries running to one end of the shelf. What a mess. And besides the mess, there’d be nothing to roll to make a fruit roll up. So straight shelves really are needed.

    Aw the fruit we dried in Uncles Steves food drier! I’d almost forgotten.

  8. HRB says:

    Want to have my own entrepreneur company similar to others to educate and share the benefits of others.

  9. HRB says:

    Want to have my own entrepreneur company similar to others to educate and share the benefits of others.

  10. Tom Robinson says:

    I have one of your Dad’s food dehydrators. It just gave out and I need a replacement heating element. It is cone shaped and screws into a ceramic light socket in the machine. Do you know where I can get the cone shaped heating element? It is 1000 watt and 120 volt.

    Tom Robinson

  11. susan says:

    I also have one of those food dryers. My parents purchased it in 1978 from Harvest Mills in Woodburn. It does not maintain proper temperature and I was looking for repair/maintenance information. Sounds like my search will be unsuccessful. I don’t need another antique around here.

  12. Debbie B. says:

    I also have a Harvest Mills dehydrator with a burned out element. It quit a few weeks ago and the Camby Chamber of C. gave me this site to see if I can get any info. Maybe you should go back into that business. It is a great dehydrator and I would love to get it fixed. Do you know who made the elements?

  13. Kimber says:

    My Little Harvey heating component went out too. We haven’t been able to find a replacement part. My uncle is an electrician and looked at it and we took it in to a repair store, but they said they can’t fix it. If you have any luck, please let me know. Or does anyone know of another good dehydrator for fruit leather that has rectangular trays?

  14. Martha says:

    Anybody found a place to replace burned out elements? Help!!

  15. Genia says:

    YES! Found the heating element.
    Generically, it’s a “cone heater”, 120V, 660W.
    It’s available from 2 sources:
    Part# CS1003-02
    $23/ea, minimum order: 2 pieces
    Phone: 630-289-9393
    Part# EBCH-120/600
    (That’s 600W, but you can ask them to make a 660W)
    $25.50, minimum order: 1 piece
    Phone: (206) 682-3414

  16. Deborah Stauss says:

    Do you know how I can get parts for my Harvest Mills LH100 Food dryer. I love it….Sincerely,


  17. D. Brown says:

    our Harvest Mills LH100 Food dryer has a short in it does anyone know how to fix this?

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