Honoring EPB&B Family Member Chris Harte In Her Retirement (Thirty Years!)

Dedicated, organized, generous, ethical, inspiring, team player and valued family member are only some of the words used to describe our CFO/HR Manager Chris Harte who is retiring from EPB&B after thirty years. Will miss having Chris as part of the team in the office but she will always be part of the EPB&B family.

Some final thought from Chris Harte:

Since coming to EPB&B as bookkeeper in 1993, two core values have remained constant. The first is FAMLY.  A few weeks into my new position, I got a call from daycare to come pick up my sick toddler. Concerned about making a good impression on my new employer, I was in tears as I left for the day.  When I returned to work, one of the owners, told me “you will never lose your job because you have to care for family.”  I’ve never forgotten how relieved that made me feel. As I grew with the company and eventually became HR Manager, I’ve done my best to create a place where employees do not have to worry about losing their job during family crisis and Marc Baker is always willing to go above expectation showing support when the need is made known.  EPB&B is all about family.

The second core value is COMMUNITY. I was awestruck the first time when owner and founder, Neil Baker, brought a list of two dozen charities to write checks for cash donation. I have been blessed to watch the cash donations grow larger and larger with the growth of the business as Marc Baker continues in his father’s footsteps of generous giving.  A highlight of my career happened this year, I was honored to assist in the creation of “The Baker Family Foundation”, a non-profit where Marc’s family and EPB&B can collect funds for charitable giving to small nonprofits in our local community. Whether taking food to a homeless shelter or raising funds through our open house, EPB&B employees are always encouraged to give to the community with Marc leading by example. 

I am grateful beyond words for the way EPB&B allowed me to grow both personally and professionally in ways I never dreamed possible. In 1993 I came to EPB&B as bookkeeper, one of 12 employees.  Within a short time, I was appointed systems administrator as the computers changed from DOS to Windows to Internet, until now we have a full time IT Manger.  I assisted with HR duties until the need arose to become HR Manager, where I’ve been privileged to help create many of the benefits and office policies that are appreciated by employees today.  And finally, as the agency revenue grew and grew, so did my “bookkeeping” duties until in 2012 I was given the title of CFO to sufficiently represent all the accounting responsibilities I had been performing for many years.  In 1993, I could have never imagined that thirty years later, EPB&B would a multi-million-dollar agency with 52 employees and I would be the CFO/HR Manager. 

As I face retiring this year, I have come to realize how much EPB&B means to me. It is more than my employer, more than a place where I earned a living.  It’s my family and my community.

It has been an honor to have worked with Chris Harte these past 30 years. Her growth at and commitment to Elliott Powell, Baden and Baker have been truly remarkable. Her passion and compassion have been an inspiration to me. To watch a team member start as a bookkeeper and be promoted through the ranks over her career to being our first HR as well as first CFO is very rewarding. I am happy for her and her opportunity to now spend more time with the family!-Marc Baker, EPB&B President

I’ve worked with Chris my entire career with EPB&B and while I will definitely miss her direction and guidance at the office, I wish her only the very best in this next chapter of her life.-Jill Perucca, VP of Operations

Usually when Chris takes me to lunch, it’s to talk biz – but sometimes just because we’re hungry.  Whatever the case, she’d always make sure we spoke about EPBB at least a little bit. “That way I can say this was a business lunch, and I can put it on the EPBB card.” She didn’t have to do or say that.  She could have put our lunches on the card any time she felt like, without saying a word to me about EPB&B.  Nobody but us would have ever known. But she didn’t.  Not once.  It was such a small but endearing gesture and spoke volumes.  Chris Harte’s sense of ethics is bulletproof.-Jeff Bruss, IT Manager

Chris has always been very generous when it comes to employees who have had adversity; Working with them and gifting PTO so that they didn’t feel the pressure of not being able to come in to work. She also is a leader in bringing the team together and always finding fun creative ways to team build.-Jenifer McCormick, Finance Manager

Thaks for an amazing thirty years Chris and we wish you many years of fun, joy, relaxation, travel and pajama days in your well earned retirement.


Distracted Driving Facts And Prevention Tips

April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration defines distracted driving as any activity that could divert attention from the primary task of driving. Besides using electronic gadgets, distractions can also include adjusting a radio, eating and drinking, reading, grooming, and interacting with passengers. Even the best drivers take a risk when they multitask on the road.  According to the Center For Disease Control and Prevention, here are some facts to consider.


  • One in four car accidents in the US is caused by texting and driving. 
  • Re-focusing your surroundings takes up to thirteen seconds after looking up from a cell phone, even just a glance. 
  • Eating while driving poses a risk equal to talking on a cell phone.
  • According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, 71% of large truck accidents involved the driver doing something other than just driving the vehicle. 
  • And more.

With work, errands, carpools, and road trips, some days it feels like we spend more time in our vehicles than we do in our homes, and it is tempting to grab a bite, check a text, or attend to a fussy child while driving but when you do you are taking a risk.  Here are the tips from AAA to help limit distraction on the road. 

  1. Snack smart. If possible, eat meals or snacks before or after your trip, not while driving. On the road, avoid messy foods that can be difficult to manage.
  2. Secure children and pets before getting underway. If they need your attention, pull off the road safely to care for them. Reaching into the backseat can cause you to lose control of the vehicle.
  3. Put aside your electronic distractions. Don’t use cell phones while driving – handheld or hands-free – except in absolute emergencies. Never use text messaging, email functions, video games or the internet with a wireless device, including those built into the vehicle while driving.
  4. If you have passengers, enlist their help so you can focus safely on driving.
  5. If another activity demands your attention, instead of trying to attempt it while driving, pull off the road and stop your vehicle in a safe place. To avoid temptation, power down or stow devices before heading out.

As a general rule, if you cannot devote your full attention to driving because of some other activity, it’s a distraction. Take care of it before or after your trip, not while behind the wheel.


Please keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road and let’s keep ourselves and each other, safe out there.


Homeowner, Renter, or Landlord; Which Insurance Policy Is Right For You?

Insurance is not one size fits all.  Depending on your living situation, your insurance needs will vary and the Personal Lines Team at EPB&B can help you select the right insurance policies for each phase of life.  It is important to understand the key differences between the different types of dwelling insurance so you can understand what kind of insurance policy is best for you.  

Homeowners Insurance:

A homeowners insurance policy is taken out by the owner(s) of the home. The amount of dwelling insurance coverage you chose with your agent should reflect the current or future cost to replace the home or repair the home in case of a covered loss. When choosing the dwelling coverage, you’ll also want to consider Other Structures, (fences, outbuildings, sheds, driveways etc.) Personal Property, Loss of Use and Liability.  Key coverage points:

  • Repairs or Replaces your home due to a covered loss. 
  • Replaces your belongings inside that is not attached or built in, such as furniture, appliances, clothing, jewelry, and dishes.  
  • Helps you if you need to stay somewhere else while your home is being repaired.
  • Protects your assets if you are found liable.  Examples could include a slip and fall or a dog bite. 

Dwelling Fire/Landlord Insurance: 

An insurance policy if you rent/lease your home to someone else, even if you are not collecting rents from a tenant. Key coverage points:

  • Repairing or replacing the physical structures, including the home, out buildings like workshops, fences, driveways, and walkways. 
  • Replaces your property left for the tenant to use, such as appliances and furniture that is not attached (Optional)
  • In the event of a covered loss where the home is not inhabitable, pays for loss of rents lost. 
  • Protects your personal assets if you are found liable for something on the covered property. Example: Tenant is injured on the property and the owner of the property is found responsible.

Renter’s Insurance: 

Renter’s insurance is for occupants who do not own the property but want to protect their own personal belongings, carry liability insurance to protect their assets and also want to protect themselves if they are forced to relocate due to a covered loss. It is important for renters to note that the property owner’s Dwelling Fire Insurance does not cover their items if they are damaged or destroyed.  Key coverage points:

  • Replacing your own personal belongings inside the dwelling due to a covered loss. 
  • Provides temporary relocation assistance if you need to stay somewhere else while your rented residence is being repaired due to a covered loss. 
  • Protect your personal assets if you are found liable. Examples: Your child throws a baseball breaking a neighbor’s window or you accidentally leave the bathtub running overflowing and causing damage to the rented home.
  • It can also extend to your means of transportation, covering items stolen from your car or a stolen bike subject to your deductible. 

It’s important to note that this is a very high-level view of Dwelling Insurance.  Most policies have many additions or endorsements that can be added to enhance your insurance policy to fit your needs.  At EPB&B, our account managers are proficient in each company’s insurance policy and are here to help you find the right coverage. 


The Benefits Of Spring Cleaning And How To Get Started 

Rain, sun, and snow all within the same day can only mean one thing.  It is Spring in Oregon.  Spring cleaning historically was a time to air the house out and remove dirt and grime that had built up during the cold months. But now Spring is a sign of renewal.  A season when people hang their hopes on improving their life and themselves. Let the spirit of Spring inspire you to get started by clearing the clutter that is weighing you down physically and emotionally. 

The first step in Spring cleaning is not to tackle dirty floors and grimy windows. Those can wait.   Effective spring cleaning starts with the big stuff, the messy piles, the cluttered closets, and the overflowing junk drawers that have been niggling in the back of your brain, subconsciously creating a distraction, blocking you creativity, and slowing your energy flow. Here are three benefits of decluttering your space.  

  1. Alleviates stress. Studies show that a cluttered home is one of the major sources of stress.  Clutter can up your anxiety level and has shown  to raise levels of the stress hormone cortisol.  Clutter is a visual cue that you can’t relax because there is more work to be done.
  2. Energize you into productivity mode. When you are decluttering, you are problem solving, and therefore getting things done. You gain energy from the visual accomplishments of de-cluttering. Your gained energy can also help tackle other items on your to-do list!
  3. Gives You More Time. The less stuff you have, the easier it is to clean. No piles to move or trinkets to dust makes cleaning faster and easier.  As an added bonus you will save time looking for your stuff.  No longer will you spend wasteful minutes searching for your phone caught under wayward papers or the left half of your favorite running shoes under the heap of clothes on your bedroom floor. There is also, by default, less to clean.  

Tips To Getting It Done:

  • Get The Right Supplies: Trash bags are the first decluttering tools you need. You’ll probably be surprised how much trash you’ll remove as you declutter.  Have a bin specifically for donations and another for items you want to save. 
  • Start small. You do not need to declutter and clean everything at once. Think of one small area that you can go through each day. For example, Day one go through the bottom half of your  closet, and on day two, tackle one of your junk drawers. In a matter of weeks, you will notice a major difference in how organized you feel.  Consider making a list of all the areas in your home that need to be de-cluttered and tackle one space each week.
  • Ask a friend or family member to help you. If you find it challenging to start independently, you can always invite others to help you or just be there to keep you company. It can be difficult to ask, but most people are more than willing to help. Sometimes an outside eye can make it easier to detach from our stuff, making it easier to let it go. 

Now it’s time to get started, so stop reading and start cleaning.  A clearer mind and a lighter spirit is just an organized pantry away. 

While it may not clear out any physical space looking at your insurance policies can trim expenses and ensure that you and your loved ones are protected regardless of what the future holds. After all, life can be unpredictable, and regular updates to your coverage can prevent financial stress and, like organized closets, can provide you with some much-needed peace of mind.

Contact EPB&B for assistance in getting you insurance policies up to date and organized.