Local business owner takes training courses
Catherine Matthias attends business facilitation and development courses in Kansas, Colorado
JOSEPH — Catherine Matthias wears many hats. Matthias is a business owner, author and the Wallowa County Business facilitator.
However, this fall, she took a tour of the Midwest that combined all of these roles.
Her first stop was the Kansas City International Airport, where she rented a car and headed to Great Bend, Kan. There she attended a business facilitation workshop with Ernesto Sirolli, guru of the Sirolli Institute of Enterprise Facilitation Economic Development.
“It was a three-day gathering of business facilitators to talk about methods, and to catch up with Ernesto to see what he is doing,” Matthias said.
Sirolli was integral in the formation of the Wallowa County Business Facilitation, a local nonprofit that assists business owners and would-be entrepreneurs developing business ideas. The Sirolli method balances financing, marketing and product into a successful business model.
From there she drove to Longmont, Colo., for a second go round with Jon Schallert and his Destination BootCamp, a 2-1/2 day course in managing destination businesses.
“I think a refresher course every three years or so is a good idea,” Matthias said. “One man was there for the sixth time.”
Outside of the business workshops, Matthias made time to research the novel on which she is working that takes place in Kansas.
Destination BootCamp teaches independent business owners how to reposition their businesses as consumer destinations. According to Schallert, a business using his strategies can compete effectively with stores of any size, and significantly impact a local community.
Matthias said the first time she met Schallert was the fall of 1999 shortly after she and her husband, Stewart Jones, opened a store in Joseph.
“I was on the economic improvement district for Joseph and another member and I were sent to Hood River for a conference. Schallert was one of the speakers I chose a morning session and ended up taking the afternoon one, as well,” Matthias said. “He was so filled with information on creating a destination business and how they can pop-up the traffic to a town, plus he was funny.”
Matthias said she was so excited about the information that she asked the Northeast Oregon Economic Development District to put together a package to bring him to Wallowa County. Because of a grant the district received, it didn’t cost business owners a lot of money, Matthias said. In April 2000, 75 people showed up for an all-day class.
Schallert also offered one-on-one consultations with businesses during his visit. Matthias said he met with 12 in two days, including the shop she and her husband owned.
“He came back to Enterprise a few years later for a one-day workshop in the summer 2005, after we had just bought the bank for our new shop, while it was empty and torn apart,” Matthias said.
Upon walking in, Schallert suggested they put large photographs along the high space on the bank’s walls. Matthias said she took his advice and had 40-by-40-inch square photos of Jones’ custom jewelry mounted on the wall.
In 2009, Matthias traveled to Boulder, Colo., for her first round of boot camp and returned in 2011 when Schallert hosted seven other speakers from all over the world.
“What I would love to see are six or seven people from Wallowa County go to a boot camp,” Matthias said. “Meanwhile I’m happy to just do it.”
Trainings with Sirolli and Schallert are not only good for the Stewart Jones Gallery, which features custom-design jewelry and fine art, but helps Matthias as the county’s business facilitator.
“Anything I do for my own business helps with my business facilitation clients,” she said.