For Jerry Bashaw '57 it's clear blue sky, sparkling Silver Creek, golden barley fields, and green pastures freckled with black Angus and Wagyu cattle, with the terra-cotta crags of the Sawtooths hovering above.
But with paradise comes hard work. These days two generations of Bashaws manage multiple duties on their 3,000 acre ranch near Picabo, Idaho.
Their success comes from something Jerry learned early--customer satisfaction. In Picabo, it means satisfying multiple customers--Coors Beer (who buys their malt barley crop); outfitters (who help vacationers land thirty-inch rainbow trout or hunt water fowl or big game); horsemen (who use their indoor/outdoor arena or board their animals); or restaurateurs (who relish their prime beef.)
Picabo is a long way from the Sigma Chi house at 13th & Hilyard where Jerry came to complete his business degree after a stint in the Coast Guard and engineering courses at Portland State University.
"I met a great group of guys there," said Bashaw. "They helped me get through school, made me study, forced discipline on me. I never loved school as much as I loved working, but my Oregon education gave me the boost I needed to accomplish what I did in life."
"I never thought about how much money I was making on a project. I thought about trying to satisfy that customer instead," he added. "No matter who you're working for, satisfying a customer will be noted by others. And it's a lot easier to keep a customer than go out and advertise for a new one."
After starting out as an industrial engineer at Owens-Illinois Glass, he founded his own company in Los Angeles in 1959 making steel fabricated modular buildings. His company, ModTech, specialized in creating complete campuses out of modular units. ModTech went public in 1989.
Bashaw and his wife Audrey started inching toward Idaho two decades ago when they bought a condo in Sun Valley. After fully retiring in 1994, they decided to move there and take up a new line of work--farming.
He has the dream job--being outdoors three seasons at the foot of Sun Valley, then skiing there everyday during winter. Sharing the work with his son and daughter-in-law. Witnessing the birth of a dozen new calves a day this spring. And having his little granddaughter growing up right there, watching the miracle of growing things. But the best part is what he does now.
"Farming is pure," he said. "You raise a calf right and it becomes a dividend. You produce barley correctly, you can sell it on the open market. I still want to go out and please a million customers, but I'm having fun. I love what I'm doing."