Please note: This was published over a year ago. Phone numbers, email addresses and other information may have changed.
SBDC helps Joshua Fegles become one smart cookie
Story by James Hill. Photos by Bethany Fegles.
Joshua Fegles knew he had found what he was looking for when he spotted a flier advertising a class called “Getting Your Recipe to Market” at PCC’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC).
Fegles, 35, had just created a gluten- and dairy-free chocolate chip cookie recipe and he wanted to share it with the world. His plan was to serve the gluten- and dairyfree community by offering “cookies of uncompromising taste, texture and quality.” After contacting PCC’s SBDC Director Tammy Marquez-Oldham about his recipe and business plan, he joined the class in 2011.
“That class was exactly what I needed when I was starting out,” Fegles said. “I had no idea that I’d have to learn things like how to convert a recipe to a scalable formula or how to find contract manufacturers and distributors. In a few short months, I had been exposed to everything I needed to know to get started with my food business.”
The SBDC provided ongoing business advising that has given Fegles guidance and direction at every stage of his company’s development, including his business and growth strategy, among many other things. The center is one of 19 in the state of Oregon, offering advising and training for small business owners.
“Josh had something quite unique: the willingness to learn what he did not know, to commit to his plan, to engage in active inquiry, and to act with conviction on behalf of his business,” said Marquez-Oldham.
The idea for Jude’s Foods, Fegles’ now successful gluten- and dairy-free baking company, came about when his son Jude, 8, was diagnosed with autism and at the same time Fegles discovered he was gluten and dairy intolerant. By eating differently as a family, Jude and his father both saw improved health.
Fegles loved making homemade cookies, full of flour and butter, so he didn’t want his recipe to compromise on taste. Since he could no longer use wheat flour, he created a new recipe using oats and almonds. He and his wife Bethany worked with the Oregon Department of Agriculture to get their domestic kitchen certification, and Jude’s Foods took off.
“After only one month of sales, we realized we needed a much bigger space,” said the graduate of Portland’s Multnomah University. “Originally I was the sole baker. But as we grew, my wife started helping out and not long after that, the extended family started baking with us. It continued as a regular family affair all those years.”
Thanks to guidance from the SBDC, they rented a dedicated gluten-free commercial kitchen that offered everything they needed to meet the demand. After three years of operation, they required even larger production capacity so they partnered with a local food producer. Fegles, who has no employees, uses local manufacturing, distribution, retail, graphic design and photography companies to make, package, and deliver the cookies. Jude’s Foods cookies are sold in all 15 locations of New Seasons Markets and in Nature’s Choice Lamb’s Market.
“‘Getting Your Recipe to Market’ and ongoing business advising have been critical pillars in the creation of my business,” Fegles said. “Without it, I most likely wouldn’t be in business. I probably wouldn’t have even known where to start.”
Big Resources for Small Businesses
PCC’s Small Business Development Center has opened a new location at the college’s Southeast Campus (2305 S.E. 82nd and Division). It’s the third SBDC office established by PCC (other locations include CLIMB Center near OMSI and at Willow Creek in Washington County). PCC’s SBDC supports small business owners and entrepreneurs with focused advising and training.
“The City of Portland has really focused its economic development efforts in Southeast and East Portland, and we can leverage that momentum from the small business perspective,” said Tammy Marquez-Oldham, director of the SBDC. “We know that thriving small businesses raise the vitality of communities where they reside. And yet in this area of Portland, there is a large concentration of small business owners who may not realize that there are business development resources that can help them.”
As part of PCC’s Southeast Campus, the newest SBDC is located in the only census tract in Multnomah County where people of color are in the majority (53 percent) and has the greatest number of Asian residents, according to U.S. Census Bureau. Advisors are able to personally relate to a business owner’s experiences and challenges.