Posted on Leave a comment

Windstone – a rare find in the Northwest

I returned John Alberti’s call, and we had a marvelous, wide-ranging conversation. He explained that Windstone Editions is America’s premier makers of collectible “fantasy figurines” – dragons, griffins, unicorns, winged cats, flying horses and an entire menagerie of mythological creatures I had never heard of – like a kirin, an oriental unicorn.

“Collectors refer to our figurines simply as ‘Windstones,’” John explained, likening them to the fantastically expensive Spanish porcelines known as “Lladros. “We have collectors all around the world.” John launched into stories about devoted collectors making pilgrimages to the Windstone factory to meet his wife, Melody Peña, the family artist and creator of Windstone’s mythological bestiary.

So long Hollywood
For several decades Windstone pilgrims made their way to North Hollywood, Cal. But in August, John and Melody completed an arduous relocation to the Pacific Northwest. It took eight months and 20 trucks to carry the Windstone factory and all the family’s possessions north through the mountains to Corvallis, Oregon – my city – on the western edge of Oregon’s lush Willamette Valley.

Welcome to the Micrometro
Discovering Windstone in Corvallis is like finding a diamond among rhinestones, or a rare orchid blooming among dandelions. Windstone at first seemed incongruously out of place here, and yet it fits. Corvallis is as rare a city as Windstone is a business.

Corvallis is a Micrometro – a little city with a big city mindset. It is best known for Oregon State University and a waning Hewlett-Packard site, home of HP’s inkjet computing. Because Interstate 5 bypassed Corvallis in the early 1970s, the town has remained a compact, well-centered community – a rare place where a person could live their entire life within a 30 minute walk of downtown.

John and Melody had been spending part of their time in Corvallis for years, coming here first to visit friends, then vacationing here, buying property and finally uprooting their lives and business and transplanting them here.

So here was Windstone (a rare business) in Corvallis (a rare city) gearing up to produce the works of Melody Peña (a rare artist). Rarely does a writer find an opportunity like this. I had to know more.

Warren Volkmann, Writer
Corvallis, Oregon
USA

Posted on Leave a comment

Hello…Windstone calling

Windstone Editions entered my consciousness on the third Thursday of the month late in 2008. Just after 4 p.m., the house phone rang. Most business calls come in on the cell phone, so I let the call ring through to voice mail. When I picked up the message, I discovered I had missed a business call. The message was short, direct and polite.

“Hi…this is John Alberti at Windstone Editions, and I was referred to you for writing. Our number here is 541-XXX-XXXX, and we are usually here until 6 o’clock. Thank you.”

I was delighted. An unsolicited client! Another potential writing assignment to spice up the bland diet of a contract training developer.

I spend most of my year writing online training programs and job aids for MegaCorp, Inc. Corporate work pays well, but it is a mental straight jacket with its templates, formats, frameworks, style guides and translation rules.

As a former newspaper reporter, I much prefer to write profiles – insightful mini-biographies of interesting people. I have profiled new professors, successful entrepreneurs, MBA graduates, family businesses and high-tech start-ups. I relish the work. Profiles keep me in touch with my journalism roots, while training pays the bills.

Perhaps this new client – Windstone Editions – would be that rarest of rare beasts – a creative writing assignment that helps pays the bills. Little did I suspect that I was about to engage a real-life, family business drama with one of the most interesting couples I have ever met. In the world of business, Windstone Editions is, indeed, a rare beast. In fact, rare beasts is what they do.

Warren Volkmann, Writer
Corvallis, Oregon
USA