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Valentine's advice for married couples

Humor, respect, resilience, faith, love make all the difference for local couples

Marriage and business can each be stressful enough on their own.

And when married partners become business partners it can double the strain. Still, there are many success stories for married business partners in Lake Oswego. It may take a little fear and trembling, and possibly some bad times. But with luck, pluck, and a good game plan, romance blooms and business prospers, at least that’s what local couples say.

The following four local married couples and business partners have agreed to offer some advice that is timely with Valentine’s Day only three days away.

SUBMITTED PHOTO - Lisa and Chuck Shaw-Ryan are the owners of Chucks Place and Chuckie Pies in Lake Oswego.

Coffee and Pizza, Chuck and Lisa

Chuck and Lisa Shaw-Ryan seem to know just how to succeed in business and marriage. When things turn sour, one of them says something outrageously funny and they both laugh.

This has paid off in business ventures that have been steadily growing since they moved to Lake Oswego in 1998. They didn’t start out their marriage saying, “Hey, let’s go into business together!” But today they are the owners of Chuck’s Place and Chuckie Pies in Lake Oswego. Both places trade on the Chuck persona of humor and good times for everybody. At Chuck’s Place, Chuck is always talking, joking and kibitzing with all the customers, making them all happier in the process. He’s sort of Will Rogers with a squirt bottle, which he uses to clean tables after diners leave. On the other hand, a good way to find what Lisa is all about is to go watch her furiously making gourmet pizzas at Chuckie Pies.

The Shaw-Ryans sort of epitomize what married business partners are all about in this city. No, it hasn’t always been a smooth ride, but it’s been a wonderful ride, they say. Their first recommendation for marriage/business success is to work really, really hard.

When asked why they decided to become self-employed shortly after their marriage, Chuck said, “It was the only way I couldn’t get fired.” Lisa retorted, “There’s no guarantee of that.”

The Shaw-Ryans say humor is the key to having a fine romance and a fine business.

“You have to have a sense of humor or you can’t cope with the curveballs of life,” Lisa said. “Chuck is clearly a model of that.” (Chuck beams at this compliment.)

Navigating the crooks in life’s road has been essential.

“Chuck has things he does well. I have things I do well,” Lisa said. “We’ve evolved together. We didn’t get into business with a huge skill set. We’ve learned what works. We discuss what is working and what is not working. We have someone to bounce things off of.”

“You have to get used to disarray,” Chuck said. “Disarray is normal. You have to get used to it, or you’ll be miserable and get an ulcer. You always need a contingency plan because you’re responsible for everything.”

“You get the credit, but you take the blame too,” Lisa said. “We thrive in this environment. This doesn’t work for everyone. We’ve got all of our eggs in one basket.”

“The idea is not to get the best of one another,” Chuck said. “It’s easy to go that route. But you can’t have an argument and walk away.”

“We argue all of the time, then we move on to the next argument,” Lisa said.

For all of their differences, the Shaw-Ryans share a crucial similarity.

“We’re very optimistic people,” Lisa said. “We have a similar view of the world. That helps us.”

Chuck and Lisa certainly seemed to have worked out the marriage-business issue. But they have gotten a lot of help from their friends.

“We couldn’t have done this without customer loyalty,” Chuck said. “We don’t take it lightly. It lets us take chances and do stuff.”

SUBMITTED PHOTO: LEVI SIM - Chris and Katie Wojda, with Annie, are West Linnians who run a business in Lake Oswego called Lucid Dog Training.

A doggone good marriage

For proof of the old adage “opposites attract” just look at newlyweds Chris and Katie Wojda. Katie is charmingly exuberant and overflows with joy at how funny and wonderful the world is. Chris is laid back and great at innovation.

The West Linn couple has teamed up to create a unique business in Lake Oswego called Lucid Dog Training, which has the goal of going beyond the usual dog-human relationship. The Lucid philosophy does not involve settling for teaching Rover to roll over or sit. It seeks to build a true relationship; sort of making man a dog’s best friend.

“Serendipitous is a good word to describe how we got together,” Chris said.

Their marital-business partnership began three years ago when Katie moved from Wisconsin to West Linn. She was getting used to the time zone change when she looked out of the window of her residence and saw some guy playing with his dog in the park.

Katie noted, “He seemed to be out there awfully early.”

The “guy” was Chris. From this tiny mustard seed of curiosity, their relationship began to grow.

“I bumped into her a few times,” Chris said.

Katie said, “First we started a business. Then we became roommates. Then we started dating. We didn’t do things in a conventional order, but it worked out really well. We got to know each other.”

Four months ago, they became husband and wife. Their partnership is complete. They say they never forget that before they loved each other, they loved dogs. The symbol of their whole enterprise is Katie’s dog Annie, a 5-year-old boxer mix with eyes of different colors and a most wonderful disposition. If Annie could talk, she would be a marriage counselor.

“The idea for a dog training business came very quickly,” Chris said. “Our skills are very complementary. Katie is a master of details and I’m an entrepreneur.”

“We play off our strengths,” Katie said. “Chris is a brainstorming wizard.”

This has resulted in a dog training business that has really taken off.

“Lucid has progressed exactly how we wanted. We made it a target and we hit it. Then we exceeded it by quite a bit,” Chris said.

They accomplished another big goal too.

“We wanted to be part of the chamber (Lake Oswego Chamber of Commerce) and the community,” Katie said. “I feel really connected to the community.”

“We’ve grown and integrated with the community just like we hoped,” Chris said.

When not building fine relationships between dogs and their owners, Katie and Chris like to do fun couples things. They hike together, row on a rowing team, and cook together. Katie happens to be a master chef of French cuisine, and when she whips up a five-course meal for Chris and herself on Valentine’s Day it will facilitate romance.

“It will be something delicious,” Katie said. “It’s so much better than waiting for a table in a restaurant.”

SUBMITTED PHOTO: KAELA MEY PHOTOGRAPHY - Caleb and Kelsey OHalloran team up on NW Creatives, a company dedicated to preserving happy wedding day memories for other young couples in love.

Young love is wonderful

It would be hard to find a cuter couple than Caleb and Kelsey O’Halloran. The Southwest Portland couple complements each other in real life, and in business.

This young couple has teamed up for NW Creatives, a company dedicated to preserving happy wedding day memories for other young couples in love. Loaded down with cameras and other equipment, Caleb and Kelsey take videos of weddings.

“We both needed new jobs,” Caleb said. “This was a side business; then, I decided to do it full time.”

Luckily, he had the perfect assistant in his new wife Kelsey, who still looks like a bride herself. Caleb said he would be lost without her.

“We film the whole day of the wedding,” Caleb said. “It’s a little documentary. It’s impossible to do it with one person. It does help that we relate to the people getting married because we’re in the same stage of life.”

“Weddings are stressful,” Kelsey said. “We’ve got to chase the bride around and you’ve got to go with what is happening. You can’t let yourself get frustrated.”

That applies to married life too.

“When you have your own business it’s hard to find boundaries between home life and work life,” Caleb said. “But it’s always getting better. It feels like we’ve grown bigger and better every year.”

“It’s been exciting to see this,” Kelsey said.

She keeps busy and is also editor of The Southwest Community Connection, a newspaper that, along with papers including the Lake Oswego Review and West Linn Tidings, is in the Pamplin Media Group and housed in an LO office.

Fortunately, Kelsey and Caleb have eliminated one area of stress. They live in a very small house that also served as Caleb’s office. However, Caleb has moved his office to another location, and it’s nice to have more room to just be a married couple.

Kelsey laughs when asked what their Valentine’s Day plans are. Something simple will do just fine.

“I think we’ll make a homemade pizza,” she said.

SUBMITTED PHOTO - Sandy and Pat Intraversato run Iron Coaching together.

From near tragedy to success

Sandy Intraversato said there was no way she would ever work with her husband Pat: “Nooooooooooo way.”

“That is what I said five years ago,” Intraversato said. “We never set out to work together.” After all, she was well established in her challenging, lucrative career.

Then Pat suffered such a serious brain injury that he required five surgeries and 60 staples in his head. He nearly died. This near calamity shook up the world of the Intraversatos, and Sandy said it radically changed her way of thinking.

“When we almost lost Pat, I made a commitment that I wouldn’t treat life as a dress rehearsal,” Intraversato said. “I did a lot of thinking and praying. I identified that I was staying in my soulless career because it was comfortable. God had rocked our world, and then, he kept Pat alive.”

For days, Intraversato reflected, researched and prayed. She decided to pursue joining Pat.

“One morning I told Pat, ‘Hey I think I want to quit Sterling and join you at Iron Coaching (a Lake Oswego business aimed at coaching business executives),’” Intraversato said.

This was just five months after Pat’s surgeries, and he wasn’t at full speed at work. But, initially, he wasn’t thrilled with his wife’s idea.

“He was shocked,” Intraversato said. “I think he said something like, ‘Which of us had our head explode?’”

Unabashed, Sandy said, “I relayed to him what I’d been thinking and praying about and that I really felt God’s call not only on me but on both of us. We stepped out on faith after that.”

Intraversato had no idea how right she would be.

“Working together we’ve been able to build the kind of practice that Pat envisioned when he started IC in 2009,” Intraversato said. “He always had great ideas and a ton of passion. With my background I’ve helped him tighten our focus, strengthen our message and deliver the values with our services. That fueled our growth.”

On the surface, it seems Pat and Sandy acted out of a crisis. But their success has not been a matter of luck.

“Our story may sound emotional, but it was grounded in a clear idea of customer needs, market and competition,” Sandy said.

To another couple thinking of attempting such a move, she said, “Do your research. Have a business plan. Know your individual strengths and how they might play out, positively or negatively, in business.”

In that case, you can live happily ever after. And have a wonderful Valentine’s Day on Sunday.

Contact Cliff Newell at 503-636-1281 ext. 105 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..