Business

10 well-known businesses with ties to SLO County

San Luis Obispo County may be more well-known for its recreational pursuits than its corporate culture, but that doesn't mean there aren't some world-famous businesses with ties to the area. Some were started here and have since moved elsewhere, others moved here after they were established, and others started here and remain today. Here's a look at 10 famous businesses with ties to San Luis Obispo County.

No. 10: Jamba Juice



Tribune file photo

The indulgent '80s led to the health-crazed '90s, and gym rats everywhere were looking for a post-workout treat that contained some nutrients. Along came Jamba Juice, which started as Juice Club on the corner of Foothill Boulevard and Chorro Street in San Luis Obispo in 1990. It wasn't the first smoothie shop in San Luis Obispo, but it's the one now known around the world. Founder Kirk Perron was inspired by Blazing Blenders, a downtown smoothie shop he would stop in to after working out. After bringing three others onboard to help market and franchise the store, Juice Clubs were opened in Irvine and Palo Alto. In 1995 the team realized the name was too generic, and changed it to Jamba Juice to help avoid knockoff brands skirting trademark infringement. In 2006, the company was sold to Florida-based Acquisition Corp. and Jamba Inc. was listed on the Nasdaq exchange. There are now more than 800 store locations around the world.

No. 9: Urban Dictionary



Jim Wilson/The New York Times

Need to know what "nexterday" means? Unsure of the definition of "memeophobia?" Confused what the youngins mean when they say "or naw?" Urban Dictionary is here to help! A crowd-sourced online dictionary that lets anyone contribute words and definitions, the website was started by Aaron Peckham when he was a freshman at Cal Poly. The site has become a real-time archive for new and slang terms — from the mundane to the raunchy — particularly those that have risen because of social media and the Web.

No. 8: B.O.B.



Tribune photo by Joe Johnston

Modern moms who want to shed that baby weight in style need all the right equipment: Lululemon pants, highlighted ponytail and a B.O.B. stroller. B.O.B., which was founded in San Luis Obispo in 1994, got its start making the YAK Beast of Burden (B.O.B. for short), a lightweight bicycle trailer designed to haul everything from groceries to camping gear. After owners Roger Malinowski and Phillip Novotny started having children, the company got into the high-end stroller business. The pressures of housing costs and the lack of affordable space to expand his business motivated Roger Malinowski to move his business to Boise, Idaho, in January 2006. In 2011, BOB Gear was acquired by Britax, a high-end stroller manufacturer.

No. 7: Weatherby Inc.



Tribune file photo by Joe Johnston

Kansas native Roy Weatherby started his firearms company in Los Angeles with the belief that small, fast-moving bullets had more killing power than heavy, slow-moving ones. The idea was novel at the time, and Weatherby capitalized on it. Before he died in 1988, thousands of customers a year turned to Weatherby Inc. for high-quality, high-performance guns. Son Ed Weatherby took over in 1986 and moved the operation to Atascadero. He has since stepped out of his father's shadow and has his own successes and his own prominent clientele, including both Bush presidents. The company is now located in Paso Robles.

No. 6: Spice Hunter



Tribune photo by David Middlecamp

Whether you need cinnamon from Saigon, dried organic California basil, or a seasoning for steaks and chops, discerning cooks and chefs throughout the United States know to look for The Spice Hunter brand in their markets and upscale groceries. The Spice Hunter was launched about 25 years ago in San Luis Obispo by local resident Lucia Cleveland, who built her company's reputation on an insistence for sourcing the best quality spices from throughout the world. When she sold the brand in 1999 to the C.F. Sauer Company in Richmond, Va., The Spice Hunter became part of a larger corporate structure, but one that has been owned and operated by the same family since 1887.

No. 5: Hotlix



Tribune photo by David Middlecamp

Into entomophagy? You know, the eating of bugs? If so, head to Hotlix in Pismo Beach. The business has been serving up bug-laden candies for almost 30 years. In the early 1980s, owner Larry Peterman introduced a tequila sucker with an actual worm embedded inside. Now there are scorpion suckers, ant candy, sour cream and onion crick-ettes and Larvets — the original worm snack. And if caramel apples are your thing, you can get them covered with worms, or without. According to the Hotlix website, all the bugs are real, processed and safe to eat. "They’re crunchy & delicious!" Those out of the area can order all the delicious treats online.

No. 4: Running Warehouse



Tribune photo by Christine Janocko

Whether you're training for your 12th marathon or just trying to get from the couch to that 5k finish line, proper running shoes are a must. Runners from around the world searching for quality gear likely come across Running Warehouse, an online business based in San Luis Obispo. Online reviews say the company offers good deals, fast shipping and great customer service. Those living nearby can also go into the store for a gait analysis on a treadmill.

No. 3: Hogue Grips



Tribune photo by Christine Janocko

When using a gun, getting a good grip is a must. Hogue Grips, headquartered on Linne Road in Paso Robles, is one of the country's largest manufacturers of gun grips. Hogue was founded in 1968 by Guy Hogue and is currently operated his sons Aaron and Patrick Hogue, Hogue Tool & Machine Company president Jim Bruhns, and his grandson Neil Hogue. Hogue grips and other items can be found at stores such as Cabela's and Bass Pro Shops, as well as http://smith-wesson.com.

No. 2: Wineries



Photo by David Middlecamp

Paso Robles and San Luis Obispo may not be as well known as Napa Valley, but wines from the area can still be found in stores and restaurants around the world. A San Luis Obispo chardonnay might show up on a New York City restaurant menu, or a Paso Robles cuvee may sit on a shelf at a wine shop in London. Wine grapes of all varieties combined for an overall value of $203 million in San Luis Obispo in 2014. It's always exciting to spot a local bottle while on vacation and exclaim "Hey! I'm from there!" to anyone within earshot.

No. 1: Ernie Ball



Tribune photo by David Middlecamp

Ernie Ball Inc. — based in San Luis Obispo from 1985 to 2003 — put guitars and other equipment into the hands of music legends such as Metallica, Paul McCartney and B.B. King. In the early 1960s, Ball developed the first rock 'n' roll strings, called "Slinkys." He eventually turned his business into the second-largest guitar strings company with $40 million in annual sales. He bought an electric guitar company, Music Man, in 1984 and permanently moved both his businesses to San Luis Obispo in 1985. In early 2003, the company relocated its string manufacturing to Southern California’s Riverside County. Music Man guitar and bass manufacturing is still located in San Luis Obispo.

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