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Goldfish Web designer nets Better Business nomination

GoldfishNetwork.com owners Lisa and Michael Thayer have a passion for marketing
by: Jennifer Clampet, BIG FISH, BIG POND — Michael and Lisa Thayer, owners of GoldfishNet-work.com, hold in their hands their own marketing plan for their Web site design and marketing business — Goldfish crackers.

TUALATIN - Through muffled crunching, a woman began to speak on the other end of the phone.

The woman caller was unmistakably munching on something as she began to talk, remembered Lisa Thayer, co-owner of GoldfishNetwork.com.

The caller admitted she had found Lisa's business card attached to the front of a bag of Pepperidge Goldfish crackers. The crackers had quieted her hunger, and the card had piqued her interest.

'What exactly can you do for me?' the woman caller asked.

In a sense, Michael and Lisa Thayer's company, GoldfishNetwork.com, works to get the word out.

'We take a client's vision and make it a Web site that represents them out in the world. That's our goal,' Michael said. But the GoldfishNetwork also works to help clients, mostly small business owners, learn to market themselves.

As a 15-year-old dishwasher at a restaurant, Michael learned early on that marketing pays off. And at the age of 27, he set a record at a Lake Tahoe printing business for selling 65,000 calendars - a record he still boasts about today.

Now at the age of 50, Michael said, 'I learned to sell myself, because if I didn't, no one else would.'

Every business has a story, noted Michael as he leaned forward in a swivel chair at the GoldfishNetwork offices off Southwest Boones Ferry Road in Tualatin. The blue walls and jazz music playing in the background give the quiet office a soothing atmosphere.

But life hasn't always been this calm. Being married to an entrepreneur, Lisa said, is like riding a roller coaster. But after 14 years of marriage, the couple has been able to find a perfect venue for each of their talents. Michael, the creative one who loves to hear people's stories, and Lisa, the numbers-driven one with a business degree, share a love for marketing.

The couple owns shelves filled with books on the subject. Michael calls marketing their hobby. But as GoldfishNetwork approaches its one-year anniversary, marketing is proving to be more than just a pastime, said Michael.

This month the company was recognized as one of 15 businesses in Oregon and Southern Washington to be in the running for the 2007 Better Business Bureau Business of the Year Torch Award.

The winners of the 2007 Business of the Year Torch Award will be announced at an awards ceremony and luncheon Jan. 24 at the Multnomah Athletic Club in Portland.

Other businesses nominated for the award include Ron Tonkin Toyota, Hawthorne Auto Clinic and Bridge City Legal Inc. in Portland and Paintegrity in Forest Grove.

The public nominated the businesses for demonstrating excellence in customer service, innovative business practices and community involvement.

The Thayers believe they were nominated for the award because of their community involvement. The couple is actively involved in the Love Box for Troops program, which encourages people to pack up boxes of goodies and send them off to deployed troops, and both are active in the Tualatin Chamber of Commerce. Michael is serving as a chamber board member this year, and Lisa is active on the technology committee.

'There is no end to the help they've given to us,' said chamber Executive Director Carla Thaler.

The Thayers and their contract employees designed and implemented the tualatincrawfishfestival.com Web site within two weeks as the crawfish festival drew near.

'They came back with something better than we ever expected,' Thaler said of the Web site.

The Thayers would like to be known in the community for their volunteer work. But for now most people know the couple for their marketing idea, the Goldfish.

Cabinets above desk top computers in the company's office hold bags of Goldfish crackers ready to be handed out as part of the company's own marketing plan.

Lisa noted that it's pretty common for the office to get calls from people snacking on the crackers as they chat away about their business needs.