Monday, February 29, 2016

Utah Chocolate Makers

I continue to be genuinely intrigued and somewhat surprised by the chocolate-making scene in Utah. Here are my favorites:
    Art Pollard of Amano
  • Coleman & Davis - One of the newest. They're not so presumptuous that they don't sell other products in their retail store Taste. One of their differentiators is the use of innovative technology to monitor and control the factory. If you haven't listened to Phil Davis share his tasting notes about different chocolates or vinegars, you haven't really lived as a chocolate lover.  
  • Ritual - Based at altitude in Park City. They specialize in small and simple batches. 
  • Amano - Tech entrepreneur and physicist turned chocolate-maker Art Pollard has been around the block and the world. Art and his chocolate are perhaps the most well-known in the state. 
  • Millcreek - Born from Dana's coffee-roasting business, this artisan shop sources their cacao mostly from Ecuador. They are a local favorite. 
  • New factory at Coleman & Davis
  • Solstice - The Querry's have created very tasty second careers for themselves. They produce their chocolate in a 100% solar-powered, no waste facility. The bars come in recyclable and re-sealable packaging. 
  • Durci - Also very new and one that I missed when I first posted this. Eric used Crio Bru as his launchpad. Interestingly, his father worked at Russell Stover, but the Durci focus is quality, not RS quantity. 
There are others that I'm less familiar with, like The Chocolate Conspiracy, and probably several that I don't even know about. I'm also specifically excluding candy-making and chocolate-dipping companies like V, Kara or Hatch's.

Also interesting is Mezzo which makes gourmet drinking chocolate!

In my opinion, there are several reasons for this chocolate phenomenon in Utah:
  • It is a "healthy" vice for a community that prides itself in moderation & conservatism 
  • There is a very supportive ecosystem, most notably Caputo's
  • There have been several spin-off's & break-ups
  • They provide inspiration to each other
Mmm . . . melting Millcreek 
The one & only Ritual HQ 
One of several Ritual products

Monday, February 22, 2016

Commercial Real Estate in Utah

I've had some experience dealing with commercial real estate in Utah over the last 10 years. The most recent and most significant related to the land we purchased and the building we're constructing at Vista Station in Draper. While I don't profess to be an expert or to have an exhaustive list of resources, I hope the information in this post will help you understand that there is a robust and vibrant commercial real estate ecosystem in the Silicon Slopes.


Two of the large commercial office developers are working on Draper Vista Station as equal partners in a joint venture: Boyer & Gardner. There are a handful of other developers:
While most of them are fairly broad in their geographic focus, Stack s is primarily focused on Thanksgiving Point. There is a high concentration of tech companies in this area given its position near the middle of the Silicon Slopes. There is one obvious omission from the list: Sorenson. The Sorenson's have a variety of private companies, including but not limited to commercial real estate development. I simply don't know that much about them.

Real Estate Agents

City Creek construction in downtown SLC 

General Contractors

Other Utah Details

  • Utah State Prison - The prison occupies roughly 700 acres in its current location in Bluffdale. It will be relocated just west of the SLC airport in the coming years. This will create a massive new commercial (and residential) development opportunity. 
  • LDS Church - The Mormon church, while not a commercial entity, owns a lot of land in Utah and builds a lot of buildings. This is one of the reasons why our market can sustain four large general contractors. 
  • Good availability with options - Commercial space is generally very available and in a variety of options: lease or own, long-term or short-term, large or small, already built or build-to-suit, etc.
  • Dynamic, high-growth - In case you didn't already know, the economy in Utah is very healthy and the IT sector in particular is driving a lot of the job growth . . . and associated real estate development. This trend is likely to continue for a long time. 
Brandon's name is everywhere
One of many commercial real estate signs

Monday, February 15, 2016

Intermountain Healthcare

Intermountain Healthcare is a world-class health system and the largest one in Utah. They have significant influence in the Silicon Slopes community and across the state, not only because of the health services they offer and the jobs they have created, but also because of their general leadership in many different arenas. My perspective is also influenced by my wife and sister who are Registered Nurses and have worked at Intermountain. I've also had many personal experiences with other employees, doctors, nurses, etc.. I currently serve on the Foundation Board for the Urban South Region for Intermountain Healthcare. Following are a few details by way of introduction to this impressive organization . . .
  • Background
    • Largest employer in the state with ~40,000 employees and 1,400+ physicians
    • 27 "service areas" in Utah and 1 in Idaho with 22 hospitals and 185+ clinics
    • Mission: Helping people live the healthiest lives possible
    • Mormon Church history: Intermountain Healthcare was established in 1975 when The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints donated its then 15-hospital system to the community
    • Not-for-profit status
  • Major expansion project at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center in Provo, Utah
    • $400+ million investment
    • 470,000 sqft of patient space in a new, 12-story tower
    • New healing garden and community center
    • Other major renovations, improvements and additions
    • Planned for completion in 2019
From an information technology perspective, Intermountain has made huge strides over the years. I don't know everything about their IT strategy, but I am familiar with their Transformation Lab, which helps develop and showcase innovative technologies in partnership with high-tech start-ups, among others.

Recently I had a personal experience during a bout with bronchitis that degraded into pneumonia. The shiny, new clinic in Draper is only minutes from my home. I got in for a visit quickly with minimal wait time in the lobby. The service was friendly and efficient. They performed an on-site chest x-ray and had the results available for me and my physician almost instantaneously. They provided some immediate treatment in the office and then sent me home with a prescription which I filled at the pharmacy around the corner. It was as pleasant an experience as you could hope for while being sick. Thankfully, I am fully recovered now.

As mentioned above, Intermountain has many levels of community partnership. In addition to their formal programs, I've seen them actively involved in organizations like the Ronald McDonald House, Utah Food Bank and Utah Clean Air (UCAIR). They are an impressive and valuable fixture in the Silicon Slopes!

Rendering of the new Utah Valley Regional Medical Center coming to Provo, Utah in 2019

Monday, February 8, 2016

An Irishman in Utah

~~~ Guest Post by Gavin H~~~

My name is Gavin Heneghan and I joined EMC in Cork, Ireland in May 2000. Back then EMC was primarily a storage company and I had the pleasure of working in Symmetrix Technical Support. I didn’t know at the time that I would spend the next 11 years in that group.

EMC colleagues in Cork - 2009
In early summer of 2011 I was at a Customer Service town hall meeting in Cork where it was announced that EMC was opening a Technical Support Center in Utah. This immediately caught my interest as I had previously spent a very enjoyable 6 months in Arizona in the 1990’s while working at Intel, and I knew that Utah was pretty close by. By the way did I also mention that I also have a strange fascination with snow . . . something we don’t get a huge amount of in Ireland. So after some serious discussion with my wife Eithne, I reached out to my senior leadership inquiring about opportunities at the new center. This put the wheels in motion and after some conversations I found myself in Utah on the 1st of August to help Vance, Stephanie and Jessica welcome and onboard the first 30 Technical Support Engineers into the center. A pivotal moment over the next 2 weeks was a lunch at Sundance with Vance, on the way there Vance had pointed out Bridal Veil Falls in Provo Canyon, and later that evening I returned there to take a closer look. I was so taken with the beauty of falls and remember thinking what shame it would be if my family didn’t get to experience them. It was at this time that I decided that I would like to move to Utah. Luckily for me Vance & Co also agreed. Over the next 3 months I would end up sharing my time between Utah and Cork, eventually relocating with my wife and two kids, Eabha and Jack (aged 6 and 4 at the time) in November 2011.
Bridal Veil Falls - August 2011

Flying to Utah - November 2011
This was the start of not just a new career opportunity but also the start of a new chapter in our lives and new adventure.  It sure didn’t take long for us to start enjoying some great things Utah has to offer.  We learned to ski pretty quickly and when the weather got better I took up mountain biking.

Jack's 1st ski lesson
Eabha's 1st ski lesson
My 1st MTB adventure in Moab with EMC colleagues
Subsequent MTB trip to Gooseberry Mesa 
We are now in our fifth year in Utah and it has been a blast. EMC has grown to over 1,200 employees and has been voted the best technology company to work for in Utah. In 2015 after, 15 great years in customer service, I joined the IT 3rd Platform team, helping build the team from the ground up in Utah. I currently lead this team as well as being part of the Mobile Experience Leadership team. I am super grateful to EMC for the last 16 years and for giving me the opportunity to not only experience this wonderful adventure, but also for all the career opportunities they provide for their employees. 
IT 3rd Platform Team - 2015
2016 will be a year of change for EMC with the exciting merger with Dell, and I look forward to what this new adventure brings!

Monday, February 1, 2016

TechHire Utah Initiative

TechHire Utah is a new job training program that allows Utah residents to quickly learn new skills for high-demand IT jobs in the Silicon Slopes. Utah Valley University (UVU) is now offering new, low-cost, accelerated programs for software development and related high-tech jobs. Salt Lake Community College (SLCC) will follow their lead with new course offerings very soon. And Pluralsight is working on new, online offerings. In addition to EMC, key partners for this initiative include the Utah Technology Council (UTC), Innovate+Educate, and Comcast.

UTC and Innovate+Educate led the charge to secure a $280,000 grant from the Utah Cluster Acceleration Partnership (UCAP), which is backed by Utah's Department of Workforce Services (DWS), Utah's System of Higher Education (USHE), and the Governor's Office of Economic Development (GOED), including the STEM Action Center. The universities and Pluralsight are providing the instructors, content, venue, etc. Comcast is helping with publicity.

The target audience is returned veterans, high school students, people in low-tech, low-paying jobs who want a change, or people in companies who simply more career options in the same company.

Check out for just a few of the EMC jobs currently available in Utah. (Note: If you go to the url without clicking on the link be sure to search with "Utah" in the Quick Job Search field.)