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Community Spotlight: Local business owner is jack of all trades

Ralph Rogers - Photo by Paul Balcerak
Ralph Rogers
— image credit: Photo by Paul Balcerak

By PAUL BALCERAK

Staff writer

It’s a good thing Ralph Rogers owns his own sporting goods store because the man wears a lot of hats. Since moving to Kitsap County 29 years ago, Rogers has had a hand in myriad community organizations: he’s in his third term as a Central Kitsap Fire & Rescue fire commissioner; he’s the owner of Pacific Northwest Team Sports and J & J Embroidery; and he’s a member of the Rotary Club of Silverdale and the Silverdale Chamber of Commerce.

He also happens to be a manic Seattle Mariners fan and keeps tabs on the Seahawks as well.

We sat down with Rogers recently to talk sports, community and business and he even offered up his unique perspective on what really doomed the Seahawks in Saturday’s playoff game.

Question: What’s your favorite job or position of all the ones you have?

Answer: Being a fire commissioner. It’s an elected position, you’re dealing with a great bunch of ... firefighters. It’s fulfilling.

Q: What are your day-to-day duties as a fire commissioner?

A: Our duties consist of, we run the budget and we basically hire and fire the fire chief. The fire chief runs the fire department on our behalf.

Q: What’s the hardest part of being a fire commissioner?

A: There isn’t really any hard parts. Sometimes having to deal with personnel issues. It’s a little touchy sometimes. Other than that, there’s nothing really, to me, difficult at all. I just enjoy it.

Q: Are you planning to run for another term once yours is up in 2009?

A: Yes

Q: What do you think of the election and campaign process? Is it awkward?

A: Yeah it is. It’s the only part of being a commissioner that I dislike, is the campaigning, the having to go out and put the signs out. But you’ve got to do it to get elected.

Q: What do you have more fun doing: selling T-shirts or selling sports equipment?

A: Probably selling sports equipment.

Q: Do you have a favorite sport?

A: Baseball/softball

Q: Did you play at all as a kid?

A: I played little league and Babe Ruth, but I didn’t play in high school. I played strictly football in high school.

Q: What teams do you follow?

A: The Mariners

Q: Do you follow the BlueJackets?

A: Oh, yes. And the BlueJackets. We do all their uniforms.

Q: How long have you been a Mariners fan?

A: Since we’ve been here (in Kitsap County and Washington state) for 28, 29 years.

Q: What are your thoughts on the state of the team right now?

A: I wish they’d do more. You keep holding your breath, hoping that every time you open the paper there’s a surprise there. They did pick up a good pitcher. I haven’t seen much yet this year.

Q: What was your most memorable Mariners moment?

A: When I took my kids, who, my two sons are Yankee fans, and we took them to the ’95 series when we beat the Yankees to go on in the playoffs. We were there when that happened.

Q: Why is community activism so important to you?

A: If more people would get involved in the communities, the communities would be better. It seems like very few people are involved in the community. More people should get more involved. There’s a lot out there to be done and it’s not getting done because we don’t have the support. It’s just fulfilling to work out in the community and do things out in the community.

Q: What are some of the things that you think need to be done out in the community?

A: One thing is, I’d like to see more sports fields for youth. This county is hurting for youth fields and fields in general for all sports. I’d like to see somebody step up to the plate and support building more youth organization fields. We’ve got to keep these kids off the streets and sports is one way to do it.

Q: How long have you been running your business?

A: The screen printing shop for 20 years and the store we’ve had open almost six years.

Q: In your opinion, has it been harder to get kids involved in sports with the advent of things like home video game systems and the Internet?

A: I’ve heard some coaches complain — especially in the high schools — they can’t get enough kids out on some sports. When I went to high school, we had so many kids try out for the football team, it took three days just for tryouts because there were so many wanting it. And now it seems like the coaches are outfitting everyone who shows up because they don’t have enough kids to play.

Q: Any family? Kids?

A: I have five kids and six grandkids.

Q: Do they help out at the shop?

A: Two of them work full-time, my daughter works part-time.

Q: Would you like to see any of them take over the shop one day?

A: I would love for my sons to keep the business going, I would love for my sons to continue it.

Q: What’s the hardest part about owning and running a small business?

A: Money. It’s just, it’s a tough business. In sporting goods, you’re dealing with Internet sales now and trying to get people into the store and people to know you’re here. The cash flow has just been tough the last couple years.

Q: Are Internet sales something you’re looking to move into in the future?

A: Possibly, in the future.

Q: How has the move to the new store helped business?

A: The move has been great. Our sales are up, but they’re not up enough yet. We’re working as hard as we can to keep it open and keep it going.

Q: What do you like the most and the least about your job?

A: What I like the most is dealing with customers. The least — paying bills.

Q: How long were you in the Navy as a weapons technician?

A: 20 years.

Q: What did your duties consist of?

A: I was a nuclear weapons technician ... working on special weapons for the Navy.

Q: Can you talk at all about that?

A: Not really, no.

Q: What areas of the world or the country did you get to see?

A: When I was in the Navy I was on a traveling training team for three years, so I went to almost every continent in the world. I’ve been to almost every country in the world. I’ve been to the East Coast, West Coast. Almost any place a Navy ship has gone in, I’ve been in.

Q: What was your favorite place to go?

A: Rome.

Q: Why?

A: The history. Just being there, being in the Vatican and standing in a building that’s 2,000 years old and it’s still there.

Q: What’s your favorite part about Kitsap County?

A: Kitsap County, I think, is a phenomenal place to raise your kids and family. The Navy brought me here and we stayed here. We’re going on our 30th year living here in this county and I would never move. When we moved here, Silverdale had a couple stores, a bar and a bank and that was it. That was even before the mall and that’s the only thing I haven’t liked, is the growth of Silverdale because it has gotten so big. I even sometimes hate going there on the weekend because of the traffic. Getting through there is rough.

Q: Are you for Silverdale incorporating?

A: I have no opinion either way. I don’t live in Silverdale proper. I think it’s something you’ve gotta look at pretty closely.

Q: Where did you live before that?

A: We lived in Alameda, Calif. We came up on the (USS) Enterprise (the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier) and stayed every since.

Q: What’s your first memory of Kitsap County?

A: Pulling off the ship — they actually brought my car up on the Enterprise — and we pulled off, we hit rain and it didn’t stop for two weeks. I didn’t think it was ever going to stop raining. ... That’s my first memory is how much it rained. And then my second memory is how beautiful it was. The rural setting and the trees.

Q: What’s one thing you haven’t done yet that you want to do in your life?

A: Take a world tour with my wife. Let her see all the spots that I got to see.

Q: Do you have a favorite hobby?

A: Not really. Raising grandkids.

Q: What’s your favorite type of music?

A: I like all music. Oldies-but-goodies, country western — I listen to it all. Jazz.

Q: What local event do you always participate in?

A: Whaling Days, (the) Armed Forces Parade, the Fair every year.

Q: What one person has made the biggest impression on your life?

A: My dad. He raised me with good values and even though he’s passed away, I still remember things he’s told me and said.

Q: Do you have a favorite TV show?

A: NFL football

Q: Do you have any thoughts on the Seahawks 42-20 playoff loss to Green Bay last Saturday?

A: I thought we’d do a better job than that. I honestly think (Green Bay) had an advantage because they’re used to playing on that hard ground and that frozen ground and I think they had the cleats to deal with it. We were watching it closely, we were watching the two lines hitting in the middle, and our guys were sliding back and their guys were digging in. And I think they had an advantage. Why else would their receivers be able to cut and run down field like they did and ours were falling down? I think that they had the cleats to deal with that hard surface. We didn’t have that.

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