EDCO Made in Bend Tour Showcases Inspiring Local Companies


(Attendees see inside EarthCruiser vehicles during the EDCO Made in Bend tour | Photo by Simon Mather)

Economic Development for Central Oregon (EDCO’s) Annual Membership Meeting for 2019 featured its third Made in Bend tour, showcasing innovative local companies in various market sectors.

The fun, members-only, event started and finished at Spider City Brewing’s new eastside facility, off Reed Market Road and Ninth Street, with attendees in the interim visiting EarthCruiser, KAWAK Aviation and Brian’s Cabinets to find out first-hand from company leaders how their products are made.

In the outdoor category, an overview of EarthCruiser — which exports overland vehicles all across the globe from its headquarters and manufacturing plant in Bend — included a walkthrough of the various stages of production and the chance to see inside a range of the super-rugged rigs.

EarthCruiser designs and builds vehicles that can withstand the toughest conditions, while providing reliability, comfort and extreme 4×4 capability, and has established a world-wide following.

Another highlight was the opportunity to gain insight into the dynamics of KAWAK Aviation, headquartered in Bend, which was originally established in 1993 as Ag-Air Systems by founders Doug Sawyer and Michael Reightley.

KAWAK (meaning “to fly” in Chinook Jargon*) is an aviation technology and innovation culture company that employs talented staff predominantly engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and support of technology systems, products and services for the aviation industry in areas such as aerial agriculture and firefighting, throttle quadrants, electric motors and mission power.

Company President Michael Reightley said, “Our success is built on the trust we earn from clients and the lasting relationships that follow.

“We work shoulder-to-shoulder with our clients, suppliers and supporting organizations to solve complex challenges in ways that minimize business risk and maximize opportunity.

“Our team of world-class talent becomes part of our clients’ teams, innovating with them and putting the right technology to work for their organizations and we invest in building collaborative client relationships that adapt and grow to help meet new challenges with confidence, speed and agility.”

In the building products arena, Brian’s Cabinets owner Todd Hakala guided groups through the manufacturing process of the company, which was originally founded in Bend in 1977.

Brian’s Cabinets, located off American Loop, is a full-line cabinet manufacturer that specializes in custom designs. As a true custom cabinet shop, it offers countless options to personalize virtually any design concept.

EDCO CEO Roger Lee also touched on 2018-2019 highlights such as:

  • Bend-Redmond being named best-performing Small Metro in the U.S. by the Milken Institute for an unprecedented third year running;
  • EDCO’s Central Oregon Pub Talk(s) pulling in over 1,700 attendees featuring startups and renowned educational speakers, covering a multitude of topics;
  • Bend Venture Conference (BVC) spurred over $2.35 million in investments, in seven companies;
  • Helped 24 businesses create 185 jobs in Central Oregon, with an additional 113 companies in EDCO’s pipeline;
  • Two new flight destination debuted at Redmond Airport, with United adding service to Chicago and Sun Country Airlines heading to Las Vegas, with Allegiant Airlines waiting in the wings to add flights to Las Vegas and Phoenix/Mesa;
  • 200 interns placed via Youth CareerConnect in the past two years.

At the conclusion of the tour proceedings, attendees also got to walk away with a Made in Bend “swag bag” filled with products from a selection of inspiring local companies.

edcoinfo.com • 541-388-3236

*Kawak (ka-wa’k) meaning “to fly” in Chinook Jargon. Chinook Jargon was originally constructed in the 1830’s from a variety of Amerind words of the Pacific Northwest and Oregon, arising as an intra-indigenous contact language in a region marked by divisive geography and intense linguistic diversity.


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Simon Mather CBN Feature Writer

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