Editor's note: This is one in a weekly series of profiles on locally owned and operated businesses in Southern Oregon.
What do you do and how long have you been doing it? We make sandwiches and comfort food for lunch, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday. We've been in business here for 16 years.
Business: R & D's Sandwich Factory
Owners: Ron and Dorene Hall
Address: 1132 N. Riverside Ave., Medford
How long have you lived in the Rogue Valley? We moved here from Glendale, Calif., 16 years ago, where we operated Crispy Deli.
What inspired you to go into this line of work? The love of people and having people enjoy a good meal. Ron ran a 24-hour coffee shop for his parents for 18 years, and I have been in the food industry since I was 16. It's in our blood.
What decision or action would you change if you could do it again? We were in the Luigi's Italian Sandwiches building for 31/2 years. At that point we saw the need for a larger building and more parking. When you start, location is important. We wanted more inside seating for the winter weather, because getting out of the weather is a concern. We moved to this location in 2000.
What's the toughest business decision you've made? When you open the door, the biggest concern is whether anyone will walk in the door. You can do all the publicizing and promotions, but will anyone walk in the door? We got active in the community and community affairs, and that's how we got to know different people and let customers know we were available. We belong to the Rogue Valley Executives and Rogue Valley Street Rods. The different associations we've developed keep us going.
Who are your competitors? Squeeze Inn and Deli Down.
What are your goals? We would like to continue feeding Medford. I don't know if we would want to change anything drastically in five years. We're comfortable with it, and the customers enjoy the consistency in what we serve. When you change what you do, that usually changes things for the customer. We do listen to suggestions and adapt to what keeps customers coming in. During the recession we've tried to keep things consistent without reducing the quantity of anything in the sandwiches. Customers say they don't care as much about what they pay — it does have an effect — but a customer doesn't want to have less quantity or quality a year later on the same sandwich.
What training or education did you need? Ron has a degree in forestry from Oregon State University and in aeronautics from San Jose State and went on to the Naval Air Academy. The coffee shop in Southern California was a family business. Ron's father died suddenly, and the family needed help running the restaurant that had been going since 1941. When his tour with the Navy ended, he came back and ran the family business.
What's your advice for budding entrepreneurs? Plan to work hard and not expect a lot in the beginning. It's not an overnight success; you have to pass the word and let people get to know you. Don't get discouraged, because it takes time. Don't expect to produce profit right off the bat. Food service takes a while to build a clientele. If you are a chain, your biggest problem is that they are doing all the promotion for you. If you're an independent operation, get out and get involved and meet people.
To suggest ideas for this column, about businesses that are at least five years old, contact reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or email email@example.com