Woolson Authors Article for Carrot Industry’s National Trade Publication

October 23, 2012

An article by Eric Woolson, owner of The Concept Works, appears in the Winter 2012 issue of Carrot Country magazine. Woolson wrote about a national project to significantly improve the processes involved in growing organic carrots on a commercial scale. He interviewed five industry experts in research and production who are leading the four-year Carrot Improvement for Organic Agricultural Project. The article, National Project to Improve Organic Production Systems Launched, outlines the effort that USDA Agricultural Research Service researcher Philipp Simon says “plays nicely into, first, answering research questions but, second, cashing in immediately with practical applications for growers’ fields.” It can be read by clicking this link.


Blue Willi’s Store in West Des Moines to Sell Inventory, Close Doors After Clothing Make Goes Out of Business

October 22, 2012

WEST DES MOINES – The impending end of an internationally iconic clothing brand is leading to the closing of a local retail store, its owner said today.

Blue Willi’s, the nearly six-year-old West Glen Town Center store that bears the same name as the clothing label, will sell its entire inventory and close its doors as the 60-year-old Danish company that produces the women’s and men’s clothing sold in at least 27 countries goes out of business.

The store’s inventory sale opens to the public next Thursday. Blue Willi’s, 5515 Mills Civic Parkway, will be open 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. weekdays, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Saturday, and 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Sunday during the sale.

“The economy in Europe is as tough as the economy here in the United States right now and that’s really unfortunate because Blue Willi’s is a phenomenal company with an incredible history,” said Tom Halsch, who co-owns the store with his wife Patti. “It’s a select group of companies that last 60 years and Blue Willi’s was in that group because the product is just that unique.”

Halsch has been a manufacturer’s representative for 35 years and has represented the Blue Willi’s representative in the Midwest for 18 years. As the brand’s U.S. following grew, the company began to open retail outlets, including one in the Des Moines market. When the owner of that store decided to close in December 2006, the Halsches stepped in.

“The manager still wanted to run it and the brand was still popular so that’s when I became a retail store owner,” Halsch said.

Halsch notes that unlike most other quitting business sales, this time the product itself will be gone for good. “The selection is limited and what’s in the store is what you can buy. They’re not making any more,” he said.

Blue Willi’s built its following by creating clothing with long-strand cotton in which special enzymes were used to seal the fibers and every inch of the materials were waxed before they were woven into garments. The garments are washed and dried several times during the assembly process, too, to enhance their strength and comfort.

“The clothes are very durable. We’ll have a women come into the store wearing a 12-year-old sweater and it almost looks like it just came off the rack,” he said.

The Halsches have traveled to Denmark and met with the company’s owners and designers. He met the company founder, Jens Marius Willi Thomassen,  a number of times over the years.

Blue Willi’s remained a family business until 2009 when it was sold.

“On visits to the factory, it was always interesting to watch the computer guy design the garments because women who knit would say, ‘You really shouldn’t be able to do that. It would take seven different kinds of needles to complete that.’ That’s why the people who buy Blue Willi’s really appreciate it and come back. They really like the quality of it.”

He added, “Everyone at Blue Willi’s was so nice. When we’d go over there, the entire factory would stand outside waving goodbye until our bus was out of sight. They’d host us for dinner at their house. It’s like part of your family is dying.


Iowa to be Setting for 2013 Feature-Length Film; Thor Moreno, Director of “Iowa” and “I Think I Just Saw the Devil”, Signs to Direct “Murder Incorporated”

October 8, 2012

DES MOINES — Iowa will be the setting for another feature-length movie in early 2013 and its backers announced today that it will be directed by Thor Moreno, who has two movie credits to his name in the past year.

Executive producer Mike Snyder of Ankeny said filming of “Murder Incorporated”, a story about a group of professional killers, is scheduled to start in March 2013. “We’re absolutely thrilled to have a talent of Thor Moreno’s stature behind the camera, especially as we begin auditions in just a few weeks,” Snyder said.

Moreno wrote and directed “I Think I Just Saw the Devil”, which was nominated for eight Iowa Motion Picture Association (IMPA) awards. His second film, “Iowa”, is slated for release around Christmas.

Moreno has worked extensively in California and Iowa, shooting music videos and short films before moving into feature-length productions. “I Think I Just Saw the Devil” is a gritty revenge story that revolves around three strangers, three Mafia families and a dead girl.  “Iowa” is the story of small-town betrayal, lies and murder.

Moreno said he was drawn to “Murder Incorporated” by its potential and the opportunity to interpret someone else’s vision. Snyder acquired rights to “Murder Incorporated” from a group that wrote the screenplay.
“I’m excited about this script because it is character driven and exciting, and because of the subject matter. While it’s a heavy film, it’s filled with dark humor, making it entertaining for all who are fans of the genre,” Moreno said.

He expects to work with some of the actors who appeared in his first two films but noted a large cast of in-state actors will be required to complete “Murder Incorporated.” “Mike Snyder’s vision, and it’s one I share, is to use as much Iowa talent as possible,” he said.

Casting for approximately 110 characters, ranging from lead roles to bit parts, will begin with the first round of auditions on Oct. 26, Snyder said. The first casting call will be held from noon to 8:00 p.m. that day at the Grimes Community Center, 410 S. Main St., Grimes. An audition after-party, which is open to the public, will be held at Wellman’s Pub, 2920 Ingersoll Ave., from 8:00 p.m. to closing.

Additional audition dates in other communities will be announced in coming weeks, he said. Moreno and Snyder expect to have the entire cast in place by Thanksgiving.

“We were going to do a single day of auditions for ‘Iowa’ and we actually took two weeks. As a result, I felt ‘Iowa’ got some of the best people available and I want to do that again,” Moreno said. “We’re going to have a lot of great people turn out to be part of this film and we want people to spread the word to anyone they know who has an interest in acting and would like to be considered for a role.”


Woolson Pens Article about School Vehicle Inspections for School Transportation News

October 4, 2012

Eric Woolson, owner of The Concept Works, has written article about a likely 2013 legislative push to to expand the inspection of Iowa school district vehicles that carry students. The article, titled “Expansion of School Vehicle Inspections Sought in Iowa”, appears in the October issue of School Transportation News, a Torrance, Calif-based national publication.