Meet Darcy Diamond – The Force Behind Production Squad’s Global Success

Bend, Ore. – June 4, 2020:  Headquartered in Bend, OR., Production Squad is a full-service production company that produces photo & video content for photographers, agencies, and clients globally. Clients include Walmart, Verizon, Athleta, Apple, Charles Schwab, Fitbit, Amazon, Sprite to name a few. Darcy Diamond, Owner/Executive Producer, is the force behind this 25-year-old successful production company.

We sat down with the gracious Darcy Diamond for a brief Q&A to learn more about her, Production Squad, best practices adopted pre and post COVID 19, and the contributions she’s making to our Central Oregon economy, including opportunities she’s creating for our locals.

EDCO: Tell us more about Production Squad and how you got your start?

Darcy: Production Squad had been in business for 25 years. We are headquartered here in Bend, with offices in Portland, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, and Lake Tahoe. We like to think of ourselves as a team of experienced, organized, innovative problem solvers, devoted to making everyone’s lives a little easier and each production better than the last. We operate by these 16 principles:

    1. Always be available and present
    2. Focusing on our optimism / can-do attitudes / sincerity
    3. Recognize everyone’s value
    4. Dedication to sustainability
    5. Demanding excellence from ourselves & all team members (the squad)
    6. Every problem has a solution
    7. Take intelligent risks
    8. Provide the best customer service
    9. Support on all levels
    10. Work hard and have fun
    11. Freeing people up from distractions, making everyone’s lives a little easier
    12. Exceed expectations
    13. Never forget your skateboard
    14. What you need, we deliver
    15. Prioritize free parking, charcuterie, & $5 Fridays
    16. Recognize everyone’s value / our crews work WITH us, not FOR us

Prior to my transition from freelance to full production company 25 years ago, I spent 8 years combined as an Art Buyer for an amazing ad agency in Los Angeles called TBWA Chiat/Day and then in San Francisco for Publicis Hal Riney. During this time, watching producers in their roll, I knew I wanted a more hands-on approach to problem-solving and being in the details of making the magic happen. When I decided to make the shift to production I reached out to all the amazing connections I had made, including the various photographers I had worked with, during my years as an Art Buyer. All of them were so supportive of this transition and hired me immediately to start producing. I was very lucky that my first production job was with Doug Menuez on a Saturn car shoot.

EDCO: What does it take to land the jobs you do?

Darcy: We are so fortunate to work with some of the most talented photographers, creatives, and clients in this business. Our entire business is built on reputation. The talent we work with trust us with their productions and call on us to share their creative. We collaborate on how to make their vision come true and do a lot of research to provide an estimate on their project. Often we are triple bidding against other teams. If we are awarded the job, we put together the crew and handle all the logistics with this team from location scouting, casting, wardrobe, props, hair & makeup, travel, talent, catering, etc.

EDCO: Why Central Oregon? How has the move here been for your business?

Darcy: I received a call from a photographer 12 years ago because he knew I was a climber.  He was bidding on a pharmaceutical job that involved rock climbing and the client specifically requested a non-descript location that could be anywhere in the world. Living in California, I knew that places like Joshua Tree and Yosemite would be too recognizable. I had been to Smith Rock on a camping and climbing trip a few years prior and pitched the idea based on real photos of me climbing there. The client loved the idea! We came out to Bend and had the most amazing shoot. I fell in LOVE with this place, the town, and the people. I went back to California and convinced the family that moving to Bend would be magical. We put the house on the market and made the move within a years time.

Initially, I kept our move to Bend under wraps for fear of ‘out of site, out of mind’ for the business. Slowly, I started telling people about it and they were so receptive and trusting and excited for us that it quickly became part of the conversation.

EDCO: Tell us about your plans to expand your company and why?

Darcy: We travel so much all around the world for our jobs and we live in such a beautiful place. I’ve always hoped to bring more production to Bend and Central Oregon. With the COVID quarantine, we decided to put all of our resources into adding and building a location division, Bend Location, and a talent division, Talent Squad, to our company. We are currently in the midst of building these custom sites, scouting, and getting them to a place to start sharing. In the meantime, you can learn more here.

EDCO: Tell us about any other initiatives you’re involved in?

Darcy: We’ve been certified by  Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC). We are partnered with No2Plastics to reduce single-use plastic for the planet. Part of this is thru use of Hyrdroflask products on our production. Every year we align with a charitable cause that we are passionate about and pledge 1%. This year it is All Hands and Hearts. Previously, we aligned with Everytown USA and Operation Underground Railroad. Additionally, we are working towards becoming a B Corporation.

EDCO: How has COVID 19 affected Production Squad? How have you pivoted? What has changed and what has stayed the same? 

Darcy: We’ve been at a complete pause since the travel ban. All our jobs canceled until just a  week ago. A lot of our clients are starting to gear up to start production and are asking questions on how we can move forward.

The crews will stay the same – we will try to pod them together so that we can keep teams together in safe ways similar to how we have quarantined. There are a lot of changes that we are incorporating into our production in terms of sanitization, who travels to shoots and keeping the crew size to a bare minimum. Our teams have all become OSHA certified and we have established a COVID protocol to keep everyone safe. Many clients and agencies will not travel. In response, we’ll set up remote viewing with the help of Zoom to accomplish their vision and have all their thoughts and voices be a part of our live productions. Our best practice COVID plan is outlined here

EDCO: Have you worked on any COVID 19 related initiatives to support neighbors and community?

Darcy: I have actively remained deeply involved in supporting local businesses. We’ve been ordering most of our food at open restaurants and each week I have chosen a different local shop to support. I’m wildly impressed with how these businesses have pivoted to stay open and continue to share the beautiful offerings they do in this community. I recently learned about SOS Bend and am excited to participate deeper in that. With the expansion of Production Squad in Bend, we are excited to hire locally and support more of the businesses and individuals here by bringing more productions to our amazing town.

EDCO: How do you think this has changed you for the future / forever vs just now? What have you learned?

Darcy: I’ve learned so much. Not only from the facts of the virus and what is required of all of us to stay healthy and keep our amazing first responders and hospitals safe and operational but I’ve also learned how to have patience on a level I have never known. My main goal this entire time has been to keep my 3 full-time employees employed and with the help of the PPP, we have been successful in doing so. I hear ’the new normal’ being used over and over and just keep thinking that every day there’s so many new details, news, and continual evolving information that for me I keep thinking about staying present and treading water optimistically. This has been a very challenging time on so many levels for so many people: our first responders, business owners, our schools, teachers, our kids, all the parents trying to homeschool, all the teachers trying to teach on a new platform and home school their own children etc. It’s kind of mind-blowing how everyone has been continually adapting to these changes. I have been mindfully trying to remain present, grateful, and attempt to add whatever optimism I can into our collective energy as a whole.

EDCO: How do you support EDCO (membership) and why?

Darcy: I was lucky enough to be introduced to EDCO when we needed a parking lot for production and it happened to be right in front of their offices, so we became a member last year. My job involves so much travel, that I haven’t been able to immerse myself to the level I would like to and meet more outstanding community members. With the sights on bringing more production to Bend, I’m hoping to participate on new and exciting levels and meet many more people.

Learn more about Darcy in these two podcasts with Tony Robbins and Charlie Thiel

Fuel Safe Systems: Utilizing Central Oregon’s Ecosystem to Advance

Bend, Ore., June 4, 2020 – EDCO’s mission is to help diversify the economy and create living-wage jobs. This is done by helping the traded sector – those companies that export their goods and services outside the region and bring the riches home through new job creation and new capital investment – move, start and grow in Central Oregon. As pointed out by Jon Stark, Redmond Economic Development, Inc. (REDI) Senior Director, the assistance provided by EDCO spans further than just “move, start, grow”.

It often requires multiple resources and utilizing Central Oregon’s broad business ecosystem, including EDCO’s vast member and partner networks. It’s about working together to help sustain our local businesses. One example of this at work is a two-year project that came to fruition earlier this year when Fuel Safe Systems‘ longstanding management team acquired the company’s assets.

We sat down with Bill Hare, Fuel Safe Systems’ President, to learn more about the transaction and who in the community was instrumental in facilitating this deal.

EDCO: How and when did the opportunity to acquire Fuel Safe Systems occur? 

Bill: The opportunity to assume ownership of Fuel Safe Systems was something I never expected. When the previous owner, Peter Regna, approached me with the offer to purchase the business in 2018, I was thrilled with the idea of owning the organization I’ve led for nearly 14 years. At the same time, I had no idea where or how to begin the process; enter Jon Stark with REDI.

EDCO: How did Jon Stark / REDI help you?

Bill: Jon sat down with me and helped me create a plan to “eat the elephant” one piece at a time. He connected me with a team of experts across the business community that helped me and my partners, Jay Morrison and Ronda Duran, achieve our goal of purchasing Fuel Safe and the real estate it occupies.

EDCO: Who did Jon Stark connect you to?

Bill:  Jon connected me to many people and resources. Brian Vierra, EDCO’s Venture Catalyst, assisted with business valuation and investment advice. He also referred me to a valuation expert through EDCO’s Stable of Experts. Brian Fratzke with Fratzke Commercial guided us through the purchase of the real estate component. Tom Schnell and Business Oregon supported our efforts via a commercial loan guarantee. Taylor Thompson and the team at Columbia Bank steered us through the intricacies of the SBA loan process. Alison Huycke at Francis, Hansen & Martin LLP supported us from a legal perspective. Brian Newton of Jones and Roth ensured we made sound financial decisions along the way.

I’m sure I’m forgetting a number of people who were also instrumental in this process, I’ll apologize in advance.  I’d like to note, beyond their respective expertise, the single most important thing all of these individuals provided was encouragement and optimism during the two-plus years it took to close this deal.

EDCO: Any final thoughts?

Bill: Thank you to all of the individuals and organizations that helped make this happen, we truly could not have done it with you!

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In business, merger and acquisition activity are the norm, especially for sizable companies like Fuel Safe Systems. It’s less than normal that an employee is given the opportunity to be the acquirer. Too often acquisitions occur by large corporations, potentially moving them out of rural communities to more metropolitan areas. However, in this instance the local buyout results in both future company investment and revenue staying right here in Central Oregon, further cementing the company’s roots in the Redmond community.

Josie’s Best Gluten Free: Baking Through the Storm

Bend, Ore., June 4, 2020 – We often are told to look for the opportunities, which even exist during a downturn. This holds true for Sisters startup company Josie’s Best Gluten Free Mixes whose sales were positively impacted by COVID-19.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the company has seen a huge increase in their sales on both Amazon and through their website. CEO/Founder, Josette Johnson, attributes this to more people shopping online and more people with extra time on their hands to bake. This, combined with the 32 million people in the U.S. with a food allergy, make Josie’s Best’s products the perfect recipe for “allergen-free” bakers.

Additionally, during this time Josie’s Best started to market themselves through brand awareness campaigns. This increase in online activity resulted in a larger audience, which translated into increased sales for the company. They launched customs boxes and packages through Amazon which was a huge lift for the startup but came at the perfect time.

“We obviously didn’t project this and we spent a few weeks scrambling to catch up, but we are so grateful,” said Johnson. “We ran out of almost all our supplies…everything from bags to tape to space in our warehouse. But we’re getting caught up now and are still seeing sales continue.”

The pandemic gave the company an opportunity to secure coveted grocery store shelving space in larger chains when some of the bigger brands were sold out of products and couldn’t refill them due to overwhelmed distribution channels. These stores turned to Josie’s Best to help fill in the gaps.

“We are so happy that we have been able to help keep shelves full during a time that has been so taxing for grocery stores,” said Johnson.

With a full plate of filling orders, Josie’s Best did not forget the local community. They donated all of the sample bags they had reserved for Expo West (the U.S.’s premier natural food products trade show which was canceled due to COVID-19) to local food banks. They also started a weekly local no contact “porch delivery” service which was both successful for their business and helped those at-risk from traveling.

“We are just so grateful that we had the sales channels set up that allowed us to get products to so many people and businesses that have needed it during this time,” said Josie. “I hope that we’ve helped people not only get the food they need safely but also spread some joy during quarantine.”

There’s Good News, Too: Oregon Spirit Distillers

There’s Good News, Too: Oregon Spirit Distillers

Oregon Spirit Distillers has been making whiskey for the past ten years…and hand sanitizer for the past ten weeks. They’re still putting alcohol in a bottle, just a bit differently. Deschutes Brewery helped by sending eight full-time employees so they can keep up with the demand for both their award-winning liquors and the production of hand sanitizer.

Plus, their tasting room is open for product pick up.

Thanks to BendBroadband for helping us share this story.

REDI to Host Annual Luncheon Virtually on Tuesday, May 26th

REDI Annual Luncheon May 26 2020 - Zach Mercurio photo

REDI TO HOST ANNUAL LUNCHEON VIRTUALLY ON TUESDAY, MAY 26TH

REDMOND, OR (May 15, 2020)Redmond Economic Development, Inc. (REDI) is pleased to announce their 2020 Annual Luncheon will be held virtually on Tuesday, May 26th, featuring a keynote from New York Times Bestselling Author Zach Mercurio.

REDI holds its Annual Luncheon each Spring discussing topics pertinent to the Central Oregon business community. This year’s live-streamed event will focus on the topic of harnessing the power of purpose and meaningfulness at work and why it matters when building strong core values and culture.

While this event may look different than in year’s past, Zach’s message is important now more than ever. Thanks to the event sponsors, REDI is offering this virtual program at a deep discount.

Join REDI and the local business community and learn what authentic purpose is and how it scientifically works to motivate people and organizations.

REDI Annual Luncheon
Featuring New York Time’s Bestselling Author Zach Mercurio
Tuesday, May 26, 2020
11:30 am – 12:30 pm
Tickets $10 REDI & EDCO Members; $15 Non-members; $200 VIP virtual lounge
Register here.

 

Title Sponsors
BendBroadband logo, Central Oregon Community College logo, First Interstate Bank logo

 

About Economic Development for Central Oregon (EDCO)
Economic Development for Central Oregon (EDCO) is a non-profit corporation supported by private and public members and stakeholders, whose mission is to create middle-class jobs in Central Oregon by: recruiting new employers to move to the region; helping entrepreneurs start new, scalable businesses; and working with businesses that are already here to grow their operations. For more information, visit www.edcoinfo.com.

About Redmond Economic Development, Inc. (REDI)
Redmond Economic Development, Inc. (REDI), in collaboration with EDCO, is a private, non-profit corporation established in 1987 as a partnership between private business and the public sector to encourage economic development in the City of Redmond, Oregon. Its mission is to create prosperity through community and business development. REDI serves as an advocate for Redmond’s industrial companies and assists them by providing information about Redmond as an area for business, relocation, or expansion. For more information, visit www.rediinfo.com.

About Zach Mercurio
Zach Mercurio is one of the leading experts on the role of purpose and meaning in organizations, work and life. Through speaking, consulting and research Zach has helped diverse organizations and individuals around the world understand how purpose and meaning unleashes human potential to create thriving organizations and lives. Zach is the author of The Invisible Leader: Transform Your Life, Work, and Organization with the Power of Authentic Purpose and is the founder and author of PurposeSpeaks.com, the popular blog on purposeful leadership. He is also a regular contributor on purpose for the Huffington Post and other international media outlets. For more information, visit www.zachmercurio.com.

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EDCO’s Resource Check-In Podcast Episode #3

EDCO’s Resource Check-In Podcast Episode #3

EDCO’s Resource Check-In Podcast updates the Central Oregon community with info and different resources that are available during this crisis. We realize there is no one-size-fits-all solution for your business, but we hope you walk away with some helpful tips.

Episode #3 welcomes Jon Stark, Redmond Economic Development, Inc. (REDI) Senior Director, and Damon Runberg, Regional Economist at the State of Oregon Employment Department, discussing Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, the future of our region, and how to prepare to reopen your business.

For more episodes, click here.

EDCO Welcomes Don Myll As New Bend Area Director

EDCO logo, Mount Bachelor landscape

EDCO WELCOMES DON MYLL AS NEW BEND AREA DIRECTOR 

BEND, OR (May 5, 2020) – Economic Development for Central Oregon (EDCO) is pleased to welcome the addition of Don Myll as Bend Area Director, effective immediately.  

In his role, Don is responsible for supporting EDCO’s mission of creating a diversified local economy and a strong base of middle-class jobs in Central Oregon. His focus will be on guiding employers outside the region through the relocation process of moving to Bend and working closely with existing local traded sector companies to help them grow and expand while supporting the broad range of industries that comprise the backbone of the Central Oregon economy. 

Throughout Don’s career, he’s helped lead successful venture capital, private equity and public healthcare companies as both CFO and CEO including Correctional Medical Group Companies, Vericare, ImplediMed, Ambit Biosciences, AMN Healthcare Services, and Daou Systems. He’s worked in companies ranging from startups with virtually no initial revenue to those with nationwide operations and hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue, guiding both finance and corporate support.

“Don brings great C-level financial and business leadership experience to the role, which we think is perfect timing given our current economic climate,” said EDCO’s CEO Roger Lee. “He has been busy in his first weeks on the job reaching out individually to more than 150 companies to discuss how the current economic situation is impacting them and ways we can help.” 

EDCO would like to thank BBSI, spearheaded by Area Manager Eric Strobel and Recruiter Kat Gardner, who conducted the professional search for the Bend Area Director position. A hiring committee representing different community partners and business perspectives participated on the hiring panel. 

About Economic Development for Central Oregon (EDCO)
EDCO is a non-profit corporation supported by private and public members and stakeholders, whose mission is to create middle-class jobs in Central Oregon by: recruiting new employers to move to the region; helping entrepreneurs start new, scalable businesses; and working with businesses already located here to grow their operations. For more information, visit www.edcoinfo.com.    

About BBSI
BBSI started as a staffing company in 1972 and evolved into a Professional Employer Organization. Over time, we saw that we could make a much bigger impact for our clients by facilitating different conversations with business owners. Helping them see what they couldn’t see before is what drives us. So, we changed the way we do business. Today, we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with business owners and are relentless in our pursuit of their success. For more information, visit https://mybbsi.com/. 

EDCO’s Resource Check-In Podcast Episode #2

EDCO’s Resource Check-In Podcast Episode #2

EDCO’s Resource Check-In Podcast updates the Central Oregon community with info and different resources that are available during this crisis. We realize there is no one-size-fits-all solution for your business, but we hope you walk away with some helpful tips.

Episode #2 welcomes Tom Schnell, Business Finance Officer with Business Oregon, and Zak Sundsten, VP and Senior Commercial Relationship Manager with Umpqua Bank and a member of EDCO’s Board of Directors, discussing PPP, EIDL and other business resources.

For more episodes, click here.

There’s Good News, Too: BlackStrap

There’s Good News, Too: BlackStrap

EDCO’s third video in the ‘There’s Good News, Too” series highlights another Central Oregon business working and pivoting through the COVID-19 crisis.

BlackStrap has been making facemasks for the ski and snowboard industry since 2008. In just five days they were able to pivot, keeping their staff employed while also hiring on additional workers. They’ve also been able to save over 90,000 lbs. of fabric from going into the landfill.

For more videos in this series, click here.

There’s Good News, Too: Personalized Nutrients

There’s Good News, Too: Personalized Nutrients

EDCO’s second video in the ‘There’s Good News, Too” series highlights another Central Oregon business working and pivoting through the COVID-19 crisis.

Sisters-based Personalized Nutrients has seen an uptake in business during the COVID-19 crisis. Because of this, they’ve been able to hire on additional staff, are working hand in hand with other Sisters companies and are supporting local restaurants by providing employee meals.

For more videos in this series, click here.