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Petaluma “Makers”

“Makers” From Petaluma’s Past and Present Make Our City Great

Petaluma is a place where people know how to get things done. Expressed in the current vernacular, Petaluma is – and always has been – a city of makers. A community known for entrepreneurs, innovators, and crafters who use their creativity and passion to solve problems, develop new products and make life better within the city and far beyond.

The 2017 Butter & Egg Days committee chose to recognize our maker spirit with this year’s theme “Petaluma – City of Makers!”Acknowledging that almost all Petaluman’s could be considered “makers,” below is just a sampling of past and present makers.

Maker of the incubator

Petaluma Incubator

Lyman Byce didn’t actually invent the mechanical chicken incubator – the first mechanical models were patented as early as the 1840s – but he did invent the first practical model in collaboration with local dentist Isaac Dias in the 1879. Why was this innovation such a boon to the poultry industry? The incubator made it possible for eggs to hatch away from the chicken so hens could stay in constant production. The Petaluma River provided a natural highway for transporting the eggs to San Francisco’s growing population. It was estimated that by 1908, at least 75 percent of the county’s population raised poultry.

Maker of Petaluma’s enduring fame

The Petaluma egg industry was going through tough times following World War I so in 1918, the Petaluma Chamber of Commerce reached out to Bert Kerrigan, a public relations genius who had helped San Francisco recover after the earthquake. He came up with the tag line “The World’s Egg Basket.” Our Butter & Egg Days parade harkens back to Kerrigan’s National Egg Day parade that featured a giant egg basket touting “4 million Petaluma Hens lay 450 million eggs annually,” bringing national attention to Petaluma.

Maker of buildings that stand the test of time

To appreciate Brainerd Jones’s architectural legacy, all you have to do is walk through Petaluma.

Often described as “the man who built Petaluma,” Jones’s career spanned five decades. Some of Petaluma’s most recognizable structures, including the Petaluma Historical Library & Museum that was originally a Carnegie Library plus many distinctive residences – from Queen Anne Victorians to Arts and Crafts bungalows – were designed by Jones. Unfortunately, not all of Jones’s structures have survived but there is no doubt that Petaluma’s renowned charm and distinctive appearance are attributable to his talent.

Maker of futures

Whether a student plans to attend Santa Rosa Junior College with the goal of transferring to a four-year college, graduating with an associate’s degree or career certification, the Frank P. Doyle Scholarship can provide the financial gift to make it possible. Doyle, the son of the founder of Exchange Bank, was born in Petaluma in 1863 and became president of the bank following his father’s death. It was through the leadership of Doyle that the scholarship was established. In the following six decades SRJC has been able to provide more than $80 million in scholarships to more than 122,000 students.

Though a lot about has changed in the ensuing years, Petaluma has maintained a reputation as community that fosters creativity and innovation. Here is a sampling of some of the companies who continued the legacy through the 1900s and into the present.

Makers of delicious things to eat

Petaluma Creamery Cheese

For more than 100 years, parade sponsor Clover Sonoma has been producing dairy products that taste delicious and are produced without synthetic growth hormone rBST. No wonder Clo the Cow is always smiling!

Straus Family Creamery, also a parade sponsor, was the first certified organic dairy west of the Mississippi River and today produces a full range of high quality, minimally processed dairy products.  Petaluma Creamery, in the century-old landmark building on Western Avenue, is known for their Organic Spring Hill Jersey Cheese and Petaluma Gold cheese in flavorful varieties such as Pesto Jack and Garlic Jack.

McEvoy Ranch is the largest producer of Tuscan-style, estate grown olive oil in the country. They also make delectable tapenades, vinegars and jams from locally grown produce. Thistle Meats at 160 Petaluma Blvd. N., adheres to a philosophy of whole animal butchery, offering housemade charcuterie, pates, salumi, terrines, and other cured meats. Stop in for their sandwich of the day.

Makers of hand-crafted wines, spirits and beers

Griffo Distillery
Photo by Michael Woolsey

Combining passion, creativity and authentic ingredients, Petaluma’s wineries, distilleries, and breweries are making Petaluma a destination for superb sipping.

For more than 20 years, Sonoma Portworks near Foundry Wharf has been an innovator in drinkable delights. Their Deco – a port with essences of dark chocolate – is the perfect introduction to their motto to “drink dessert.” Griffo and Sonoma Coast Spirits are two of Petaluma’s newest tasting rooms. Enjoy cocktails with them in the “Maker District” in northeast Petaluma across from Lagunitas.

And speaking of craft beer, HenHouse and Lagunitas Brewing Company are make the Maker District a must for ale aficionados.

Makers that make amazing things from plastic

Petaluma is home to companies that are recognized as industry leaders in manufacturing plastic products.  Architectural Plastics is a specialist in fabricating large pieces such as acrylic museum display cases and retail display cases.

On the smaller side of the equation, Labcon supplies more than 1000 products to laboratories all over the world to help them transport and manage liquids during testing.

Camelbak is a world leader in innovative designs for hydration. From school children to Olympic athletes to deployed military, you’ll find Camelbak water bottles and hydration systems reducing disposable waste and ensuring peak performance.

Makers of fun

Who doesn’t smile when someone brings out a ukulele? But at Kala Brand Music Co., ukuleles are serious business. Established in 2005, they offer over 200 different models, for both professional musicians and amateur enthusiasts.

What started with a simple heart sticker at Andrea Grossman’s kitchen table in 1979 exploded into a sticker and scrapbooking craze. Today, Mrs. Grossman’s is still going strong, manufacturing stickers and labels in their 50,000 square foot facility.

Makers of new from old

Offering tug and barge services since 1924, Lind Marine also processes oyster shells in their Petaluma plant. The calcium is a highly desirable soil amendment, used by the pharmaceutical industry, and added to livestock and poultry feed. They supply over 30 million poultry layers in California, the northeast and Canada.

Self-described “maker,” Heritage Salvage takes reclaimed wood and building materials and crafts them into beautiful tables, ceilings, flooring, and architectural features, giving them new life while honoring their history. Their practical artistry can be seen at Pub Republic, Lagunitas, HopMonk, Sauced, Seared and about 100 more restaurants throughout the Bay Area.

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