Teamwork and Fair Trade is Good Business

San Isidro Factory
Fields and Lane Oregon Factory

In the early nineties owner Bob Laughlin was helping with a special education school in Costa Rica’s San Isidro Valley. In 1994 the opportunity arose to take over production from the Portland Rose Glove Company, who were selling the equipment from their factory here in Carlton, Oregon.

The San Isidro Valley where the school was located had long had a flourishing sewing industry, which was slowing due to changes in global labor patterns. Bob put two and two together and saw that he could give the Portland Rose factory a new life providing employment in Costa Rica. By 1995 it was up and running, and our first gloves were being made by the highly skilled workers of San Isidro.

Today the factory employs some 22 people, all of whom have become like our extended family. Tenure at the factory is long, with very little turn-over. The company is a choice employer in the area, with fair wages, weekly incentives, and an employee credit union.

The company even celebrates together, with a yearly trip to the beach, Mother’s and Father’s Day parties and a Christmas celebration where everyone receives useful gifts that help their families, like washing machines and other appliances. And of course the company supports the local soccer team, the Guerreros del Sur!

The Willamette Valley Team

Bob Laughlin

Bob Laughlin

Owner

Born and raised in Carlton, Oregon, Bob Laughlin hails from a farming family. In 1972 he founded Laughlin Trucking, Inc., a leading Northwest carrier serving the agricultural industry. And in 1982 he founded the wholesale feed company Laughlin Cartrell, Inc.

In 1994 Bob acquired the factory of the Portland Rose Glove Company and saw the opportunity to help the San Isidro community in Costa Rica by starting a fair trade factory there. He is very proud of his philanthropic work in the U.S. and Costa Rica, including the Bonnie Jean Laughlin Foundation which he founded with his wife, Dorothy.

Nadia Ceballos McLeod

Nadia McLeod

General Manager

Born in Panama, Nadia has been with us since the beginning. One of six Panamanians to receive a full scholarship to Linfield College the year she came to Oregon (in a program that included 16 students from Costa Rica, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Panama), Nadia came on board initially as a bilingual factory liaison and international sales representative.

Quickly making herself indispensable, Nadia became our General Manager in 2007. She lives with her husband Frank and her daughter Judy right next door in McMinnville, Oregon.

Donn Williams

Donn Williams

Donn had been the General Manager of the original Portland Rose Glove Company. When we acquired their equipment, he signed on as our General Manager, keeping that position until 2007. Donn has been instrumental in design work and quality control, and handling sales in the Willamette Valley.

Bob Burnett

Bob Burnett

Upon retiring from HP in 1995, Bob came on board to help move the factory tooling, set up the workflow and set up our incentive programs. He designed the factory floor and helps keep the factory running smoothly.

The San Isidro Valley Team

General Manager

César has been with us since day one. He started work at 17 in a large factory where he came to be in charge of quality control, interfacing with reps from Eddie Bauer, Levi’s and others. Since joining us, César finished his high school diploma and has worked his way up from Product Manager to General Manager. But our informal title for him is simply “Irreplaceable.”

A native of San Isidro, César lives there with his wife Ana and his boys Brian and César. And he’s also irreplaceable as the goalie of the company soccer team.

Martha Ruth Badilla

Martha Ruth Badilla

Also with us since the beginning, Martha is our able Costa Rican accountant and “watchdog,” keeping the business running smoothly in a challenging international environment. She additionally provides those services for our Bonnie Jean Laughlin Foundation.

Martha lives in San Isidro with her husband Alex, and children Karen, Mauricio and Iveth, all of whom are attending University of Costa Rica.

Vanessa Castro

Vanessa Castro

Vanessa is our administrator in Costa Rica since 2002. As César Rodriguez’s right-hand woman, she’s in touch with Nadia Ceballos McLeod in Oregon every day, coordinating shipments and taking care of myriad daily details.

Vanessa lives in San Isidro, where she supports her mother, Maida.

Nelson

Nelson

We met Nelson in 2005 through the school for children with special needs that we support. He has worked with us ever since, sorting leather and helping keep things clean and tidy. When he first came to us, his mother would come by every day to make sure he was doing alright. Now everyone at the factory looks out for him.

Nelson is one of the many links between our factory and the work we do in the community. Some of our employees benefit from the services of our BJL Foundation to help their kids who may have a learning disability or behavioral problems. As Nelson can tell you, we’re all one big family and we take care of each other.

More Team Members

San Isidro Team

El equipo de San Isidro: Alan Hernández, Wagner Castro, César Rodríguez, Jorge Castro, Geovanny Barboza, Rocío Ortíz, Grethel Venegas, Martha Ruth Badilla, Vanessa Castro, Nelson Araya, Damaris Castro, Floribeth Agüero, Mauren Cambronero, Mayela Araya, Carmen Agüero y Nelly Vargas.