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Understand Your Commercial Property Insurance
to Avoid Surprises

Earthquakes and Fire and Flooding, Oh My!

The worst time to learn
about your insurance is
when disaster strikes.

    Damage to commercial properties can be financially devastating to business owners. High-priced buildings often require expensive repairs. In addition, building damage can cripple property values.
    Owners typically address these risks by buying property insurance.
    However, insurance buyers may not have a good understanding of their plan and what itactually covers. This often results in unwanted surprises when a disaster occurs.
    Take earthquake insurance for example. If an earthquake destroys a $500,000 building and the owners have an insurance policy with a 15% deductible, the owner will need to pay thefirst $75,000 in repairs. However, if the earthquake damage falls below $75,000 (15% of thebuilding's value), owners may be surprised when they have to cover the entire amount. In addition, insurance agencies and owners may estimate the costs of repairs differently.
    After performing their own calculations, an insurance provider may expect to pay $150,000 to repair damages. However, the true costs to the owner may be closer to $200,000. The owner, therefore, may have to take on a surprise expense.
    Having spent several decades in commercial real estate, I've heard numerous horror stories about insurance-related surprises.
    The worst time to learn about your insurance is when disaster strikes. Taking the time to understand your property's insurance plan can prevent problems before they occur.
    To gain a better understanding of their plan, owners need to first identify their building's greatest risks (fires, floods, earthquakes, etc.). They should then meet with the insurance company's claims department and discuss potential scenarios.
    Owners should ask questions like, "How much would I be required to pay out of pocket in this situation?" and "Are there any situations where I'd be required to pay more than my deductible to complete the total cost of the repairs?"
    Meeting with a claims department may reveal critical information about the quality of one's insurance. For example, owners may learn that their coverage is insufficient or does not reflect the risks facing their building. They may also discover that their provider has incorrect information about their building's value or risks. Knowing this information beforehand can prevent a number of potential conflicts and reduce financial losses.
    The Mid-Valley has many qualified insurance professionals. Be sure to choose someone with a good reputation who is active in the community and in their industry association.
    Alex Rhoten is a principal broker at Coldwell Banker Mountain West Commercial Real Estate. 503-587-4777.

Inspiring Leaders and Non-profits
interview with a non-profit leader.

David Ballantyne, President
Pentacle Theatre.

    Each month, I interview a non-profit leader. My last leader was the president of a healthcare related non-profit. This month we feature another organization with a very different subject - community theater. Enjoy this interview with David Ballantyne, President of Pentacle Theatre.
    Pentacle Theatre is a volunteer, non-profit community theatre presenting quality productions in an intimate setting for over 64 years.
    How did you get into the role? How did you find yourself in leadership in the organization?
    I have been a volunteer in the Pentacle Theatre family since 1999. I started as an actor in the production of Arthur Miller's A View of a Bridge. I acted on and off sporadically, even taking a break for a few years until they held auditions for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. I knew I had to audition and was cast as RP McMurphy. This role and reintroduction to Pentacle Theatre started me down a path of volunteering for the organization that grew and grew! I became more involved with social media for the theater and joined the marketing committee, served and chaired the annual winter fundraiser committee as well as continuing to act in as many shows as I could. In 2013, I was elected to the governing board and served a three-year term. I was also very fortunate to receive the Volunteer of the Year award in 2015. In 2016, I directed my first play,Of Mice and Men. In 2018, I was elected to my second term on the governing board and my first term as president.
    What experiences best prepared you for this role?
    I have held many leadership positions over the years in the non-profit world, the private sector and for the State of Oregon.
    With management experience ranging from operational control over a small chain of retail stores in the northwest, chairing committees for Pentacle Theatre and various leadership rolesfor the Oregon Health Plan.
    All these unique perspectives allow me to bring a nuanced and versatile background to operational decision making and organizational culture.
    What is difficult about your nonprofit leadership role? What is easy?
    Any time you have the responsibility of operational and fiscal success of such a legendary and revered organization like Pentacle There, there is a real sense of care that needs to be infused into every decision. Like many opportunities, we all struggle to be asking ourselves, "Is this the right thing to do for the theater?" There can be many right answers to that question and as a governing board team, we have a lot of valuable discussion about where we are headed and the decisions we make.
    The easiest part is knowing how many people in the organization participate with the same intention: to do the best that we can to continue to put on high-quality productions and continue to foster a welcoming and collaborative environment.
    Everyone - from the governing board, to committee members, to hospitality guild members, to production crews, and to actors and staff - shares that commitment. That is rare, indeed.
    What have you uniquely contributed to your organization?
    I have made efforts to see Pentacle grow as a known community leader. I was a founding member of the Salem Theatre Network that started in 2015, which looks to shine a light on all the great theater happening in the Mid-Willamette Valley and hoping that a feeling of community not competition would take hold. Our governing board and I have been guiding our organization to take a clear stance on antiharassment and sexual harassment-free environment. As an arts organization, we hold the safety and security of our volunteers and staff as a major priority. We have adopted policies and procedures to ensure that volunteers and staff have the access to all information.
    What are you looking for in future leaders in your group?
    There are leaders everywhere in Pentacle Theatre! One of the great aspects of our organization is that it allows and fosters leadership opportunities for everyone in almost every role. We encourage leading and collaboration whether it's among the backstage crew, the staff, our actors, the directors or our committee members.
    Key attributes that will always help someone who aspires to lead anywhere is to be collaborative, engage in active listening, sharpen your communication skills, practice empathy, own mistakes, offer solutions and show appreciation to all who give their time, energy and heart.
    s there anything else you would like to add?     I have been a resident of the mid-Willamette valley my whole life; most of it Salem. With over 20 years as an artist in the community, be it as a musician, actor or director. I treasure it deeply and it has been deeply rewarding. I am honored to carry the leadership flag, if even for a short while. I believe we provide a vital component to the culture and community of Salem, Oregon.
    What others say about David: "David's primary motivation is preserving Pentacle Theatre, strengthening its artistry and ensuring that it remains a resource for generations of theater lovers to come. We are fortunate that we have generations of committed volunteers willing to serve this treasure of the mid-Willamette."- Lisa Joyce, Executive Director of the Pentacle Theatre To learn more about the Pentacle Theatre you can visit
    That's it for this month. Are you a volunteer leader of a nonprofit or association? If you or someone you know would like to be featured in my column, email me at
    G. Harvey Gail is president of Spire Management, an association management, event planning and consulting firm located in Salem, Oregon. , @HarvGail.

Don't Get Drawn Into Conspiracy Theories
It is often difficult for conspiracy theorists
to site or defend how they developed their theories.


    You may laugh at the idea of a secret society like the Illuminati or a theory that humans are all in a videogame simulation. But, there are conspiracy theorists who don't; a surprising number of them.
    While these are obviously extreme, it is worthwhile to understand how we can be drawn into such ideas, tossing aside the probable for the unlikely. We often interact with people who think that conspiracies are common and make it their mission to reveal the "truth."
    In fairness, there have been a handful of times where conspiracies were happening, and it took some brave investigators to be persistent and to reveal the facts. The government DID test LSD on Americansin the MK-ULTRA program. John Lennon WAS under surveillance. Big tobacco KNEW cigarettes caused cancer. Movies are full of these stories both true and imagined, making them seem more prevalent.
    Definition of conspiracy theory: A conspiracy theory is a claim that a conspiracy, a secret plan to do something unlawful or harmful, took place. Conspiracy theories typically offer an explanation that differs from a widely accepted narrative.
    Identifying conspiracy theorists: People who put forth improbable theories may start at a place of paranoia and projects those ideas on to others. You might want to watch for phrases such as: "I'm not trying to imply that X is trying to do Y; I'm just asking the question." X might be the government, or a local business and Y could be just about anything that the conspiracy theorist dislikes. Yes, they are"trying to imply," sowing the seeds of doubt and mistrust.
    How to deal with people who see conspiracies everywhere: It is often difficult for conspiracy theorists to site or defend how they developed their theories. When asked: "Help me understand how you came to this conclusion" or "Where did you find this information?" it may be hard for them to give yousubstantial answers. They will quote other people with similar conspiracy theories or take quotes from others (such as government officials) unbacked and out of context.
    When you are the target of a conspiracy theorist: Similar to the rules of public relations, if you are the target of a conspiracy or someone is trying to "imply" that something fishy is going on, you should not let the comments go unrefuted. If you are in a public setting you can ask the person to provide more detail and sources for their comments.
    If comments are made on social media, you can challenge their position and provide or link accurate source information or statistics. At this point, most reasonable people will be satisfied.
    At the end of the day, realize sometimes you just can't win. There are some disagreements that are simply not worth fighting. If you have someone in your circle who sees a cover-up everywhere and always seems to be looking for the most nefarious reason for every decision, you might have to let that one go. If they are a negative in your life, consider finding a different friend. Conspiracy theorists can be draining, and there is no use wasting your time thinking about things that probably aren't true.
    Mary Louise VanNatta, APR, CAE is the CEO of VanNatta Public Relations a PR, Consulting and Event Planning firm in Salem, Oregon.