Business Insider

Making Good in Idaho business

Mitch Kuhn
Mitch Kuhn

Advertising & PR

Mitch Kuhn has joined Oliver Russell, a Boise brand agency, as a graphic designer. Kuhn will work on interactive, print and other projects.

He worked for AHM Brands in Eugene, Ore., where he served as the lead designer on projects for the U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team Trials and Hop Valley Brewing Co. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication, majoring in advertising with a minor in gender studies.


Kendall Ford, of Meridian, announced that its Drive for Education program will award 20 $1,000 dollar scholarships to local graduating seniors, with an additional student receiving the grand prize of a new Ford car in addition to the scholarship.


Grand Teton Distillery, of Driggs, received 94 points and a bold medal in this year’s 2013 International Spirits Competition for vodka by the Beverage Testing Institute in Chicago.

The award, combined with several other awards, raise the vodka’s international ranking from No. 5 in the world to No. 2 in the world, according to, which ranks more than 1,000 vodkas. The other awards are the double gold medal from the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in March, the 92-points Best Buy rating by Wine Enthusiast, and the 2012 ranking of 94 points and a gold medal from the Beverage Testing Institute.

Grand Teton Distillery is an artisan craft distillery in Teton Valley at the base of the Grand Teton. The distillery is 15 months old, having shipped its first cases in July 2012. It now sells in a dozen states including Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Washington, Oregon, California, Arkansas, Georgia, South Carolina and West Virginia, with final approvals pending in Virginia, North Carolina, North Dakota and Arizona.


Ben Shedd, a four-decade veteran of the film industry best known for his Academy Award-winning “The Flight of the Gossamer Condor,” has been named a “Professor of the Practice” at Boise State University.

Shedd is the second innovator to be invited into the new program, which invites business, scientific and artistic leaders to share experience with Boise State students. He joins Walter Robb, co-CEO of the international organic food company Whole Foods Markets.

Shedd has produced 33 educational and science films, including three made for IMAX screens and a special movie called “Star Waiters.” That Boise film starred then sixth-grader Mitch Kohler and was chosen over 13,200 other wishes for the Make-a-Wish Foundation’s National 2009 Infinite Wish award, granted for the way the project brought people together to grant a child’s wish. Many Boise State students and alumni worked on the production.

He also shares a Peabody award for his work in the early years of the PBS science series “Nova.”

This semester, he is teaching a Department of Communication class called “The Film Producer’s Role” for the seventh time at Boise State. He has taught film courses at six universities, including the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts and Princeton University.


Steve Burns, director of Zoo Boise, has been elected vice chairman of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

Burns will serve on the board of directors and its executive committee. He will be involved in accreditation, ethics, animal welfare and conservation.

Burns has been with Zoo Boise since 1997, originally serving as executive director of Friends of Zoo Boise and then as zoo director. During his tenure, Zoo Boise has raised more than $10 million to build new exhibits and renovate more than 80 percent of the 11-acre zoo.

In response to the growing extinction crisis that threatens many of the world’s animals, Burns has helped transform Zoo Boise into a conservation organization. Zoo Boise was the first zoo in the country to introduce a mandatory conservation fee with zoo admission. Since 2007, Zoo Boise has contributed more than $1.2 million to wildlife conservation projects in Idaho and around the world. It donates, on average, more than 10 percent of its annual budget to support wildlife conservation.


Ground Force, of Post Falls, received a letter of award and subsequent contract from the largest mining company in Kazakhstan. The award was for more than a dozen pieces of equipment and will keep Ground Force’s northern Idaho factories busy until March.

The 28-year-old company designs, engineers and manufactures mine-support equipment for open-pit and underground mining applications. Ground Force Worldwide is an original equipment manufacturer for Caterpillar and sells solutions to the global Cat dealer network. The company has three factories in the United States, one in Europe and one in Peru. It plans a location in Australia.

In late 2000, Ron Nilson purchased Aresco, a company in Post Falls, and changed the name to Ground Force Manufacturing. Today, Ground Force products include the world’s largest fuel and lube trucks and the world’s largest water trucks . A new product line, UnderGround Force, was launched in late 2012, and with recent growth, Ground Force Worldwide (parent company of Ground Force and UnderGround Force) now employs more than 200 people. The company’s business is 25 percent domestic and 75 percent foreign.

Ground Force received a $5,436 State Trade and Export Promotion grant, distributed by the Idaho Department of Commerce and funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. The grant paid for four trade trips to Russia.


DataTel Communications of Meridian, a telecommunications supplier, has been recognized by Mitel and Integra Communications with Silver Partner and Premier Partner status. DataTel Communications is in its 50th year of operation.

Company owners Rod Richardson, Scott Langdon and Marie Hyde have a collective 56 years in the industry with DataTel.

Micron Technology employees donated 1,144 and 212 hams to the Idaho Foodbank.

Since 2001, the donations have totaled about 19,000 turkeys and hams for Idaho families.

Each holiday season, Micron provides each employee a ham or turkey. Many employees donate the gifts to hungry families through The Idaho Foodbank.

The Micron Foundation will again make a cash donation to the Foodbank.

Other businesses

Travis Forrest, Sam Johnson and Ty Carter have joined the front-office staff of the Idaho Stampede for the 2013-14 season.

Forrest is an account executive. He completed an internship during the 2012-13 season. His responsibilities include sales of sponsorships, season tickets, mini-plans, group tickets and suites, as well as assisting with ticketing and game day operations. The Roseburg, Ore., native spent the last five years as a habilitative interventionist/developmental specialist with Community Partnerships of Idaho, working with children with special needs. He earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from Northwest Nazarene University and his master’s degree in sports management and administration from Liberty University.

Johnson is an account executive. His responsibilities consist of selling season tickets, group outings and suites and working game-day operations. A native of Livermore, Calif., he attended the University of Oregon, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in sports business.

Carter is the media and public-relations coordinator. He completed an internship with the team during the 2012-13 season. His responsibilities include working with community partners to coordinate community outreach events, editing team publications and serving as the team’s liaison to the media. Originally from San Jose, Calif., Carter earned a degree in communications from BYU-Idaho, where he also wrote for the university newspaper.