HAND CREAM FIRM NAMED TOP WOMAN-OWNED FAMILY BUSINESS

September 10, 2002 11:00 pm
AT JOSEPH PLANT: Cheryl Roath, left, and Patty Mankins apply the final shrink wrap and sealer piece to containers of Working Hands Creme at the company's operation in Joseph. (Photos/KAY COOKE).
AT JOSEPH PLANT: Cheryl Roath, left, and Patty Mankins apply the final shrink wrap and sealer piece to containers of Working Hands Creme at the company's operation in Joseph. (Photos/KAY COOKE).

JOSEPH — A Joseph business has been named Oregon's woman-owned family business of the year.

Working Hands Creme Inc. on Main Street was visited last week by Kay Cooke, marketing manager of the Oregon State University Austin Family Business Program.

The business owner, Tara O'Keefe-Broadbent, will receive the award in a ceremony in Portland in November.

In 1994, O'Keefe-Broadbent, a pharmacist, set out to solve her father's lifelong struggle with dry, cracked skin. A sheep rancher of Irish descent, he tried all variety of salves and ointments to relieve his skin's condition, which was aggravated by the arid southern Oregon and northern California weather.

After trying many ingredients and experimenting with different pH levels, O'Keefe-Broadbent hit upon her Working Hands Creme. Her company now produces 5,000 two-ounce jars a day and has distribution agreements with such major retailers as Rite-Aid and Walgreen's.

The company's production unit is in Joseph, but O'Keefe-Broadbent, along with the marketing operations, recently moved to Sisters.

"The story of a daughter's efforts to relieve her father's suffering — and the resulting financial success enjoyed by the entire family and their community — is an inspiration to aspiring inventors and entrepreneurs across the state," said Mark T. Green, AFBP director.

The Austin Family Business Program provides service and support to Oregon's family-owned businesses through workshops, training seminars and Oregon State's family business management course, the only course of its type in the Pacific Northwest.

Fully 90 percent of Oregon's businesses are family owned, and these firms contribute more than $24 billion in annual payroll to Oregon's economy.

Working Hands Creme was started in Bend in 1994. In 1996 the company moved to Joseph, where it has four employees.

The Austin Family Business Program will present "Succession Basics" from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Oct. 14 at the Baker County Extension Service Building in Baker City. The fee is $20.

Cooke, the marketing manager for the Austin program, said the program hopes to bring more classes to Eastern Oregon.

Reservations are being accepted for the Family Business Awards ceremony at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 21 at the Oregon Zoo. Educational discussions start at 1 p.m. as a part of Family Business Day.

For information call 800-859-7609, or visit www.familybusinessonline.org.