A replica of a 500-year-
old olive tree, 20 feet tall
with a 40-foot canopy,
graces the interior of a
Las Vegas restaurant, creating the feeling one is in
an outdoor courtyard.
REMEMBER POET Joyce Kilmer’s famous line,
“Only God can make a tree”?
Kilmer couldn’t have foreseen NatureMaker,
whose spectacularly realistic artificial trees can be
found in museums, hotels, shopping malls, casinos,
zoos, nature centers and private homes worldwide.
“We’ve done 50 different varieties of trees,
from banyans to oaks to cypresses. There’s no limit
to what can be done,” says Gary Hanick, Costco
member and president of NatureMaker (www.
naturemaker.com), who teamed up with the late
sculptor Bennett Abrams in 1983 to co-found the
Carlsbad, Calfornia–based firm.
Hanick credits Abrams—who was born in
Minnesota’s North Woods and later lived within
California’s San Jacinto National Forest, where the
landscape rises from desert to alpine forest—as the
visionary behind NatureMaker. “He found inspira-
tion all around him,” says Hanick.
name song Your in a
Abrams the sculptor and Hanick the marketing and
business expert began working together in 1978.
Their unique creations make retail, restaurant, hospitality venue, airport, gaming center, atrium and
lobby environments more inviting.
NatureMaker’s 25 employees handcraft each
tree on a steel framework, topped by a bark-like
material that is sculpted and painted. Then, silklike polyester leaves or genuine palm fronds—
chemically treated to preserve them—and
“natural” touches, such as lightning strikes, are
added. A commission can take from four months to
two years to complete. “All our trees look different.
If you make them too perfect it looks artificial,”
“We’re creating art,” he continues. “Artists
touch every inch of the tree, from the trunk to the
end of the branch, thousands of sections, sculpting
and painting.”—Sharon McDonnell
MIGNON FOGARTY, aka
Grammar Girl, scribbled the
idea for her ultra-popular podcast on a napkin and launched
her first one that same July
2006 evening, and by fall her
straightforward, bite-size tips
and memory tricks (grammar.
Thursday-night staples, making
it into the i Tunes top 100—
where it has remained. To date
she has covered more than
250 topics, ranging from the
ever-popular affect versus
effect to her own nemesis, lay
versus lie. Each five- to eight-
minute podcast is downloaded
about 150,000 times.
Fogarty’s niche advice has
led to an appearance on
Oprah, numerous awards—
such as being selected as one
of the Writer’s Digest 101 Best
Websites for Writers—and six
books, including the New York
Times best-seller Grammar
Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for
Better Writing (Holt, 2008).
“Getting email from
people who say I have helped
them is my favorite part,
especially when kids find my
books fun and easy to understand,” says Fogarty, who
works out of her Reno,
Asked if she’s ever been
stumped by a reader, the
University of Washington and
Stanford graduate says, “All
the time. Most recently, it was
compel versus impel. I don’t
feel bad, because there’s so
much to know.”
82 ;e Costco Connection SEPTEMBER 2012
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NAME YOUR TUNE, headed by
mompreneur and Costco member
Candace Alper, can make your little
one the star of his or her favorite
sing-alongs. Classic and familiar
songs are recorded to include a
twist—your child’s name.
“Name Your Tune [ www.name
yourtune.com] was inspired by my
daughter, Hannah,” explains Alper.
“We’d be singing the ABCs and I
would throw her name into the
song to keep her attention and
make her smile.”
From there, an idea grew.
Alper’s husband, Eric, an award-win-
ning veteran of the Canadian music
scene, is co-founder of the company,
based in Richmond Hill, Ontario.
One of the things that Alper
appreciates most is the feedback
she receives from clients. Comments
such as “It’s the only thing that will
keep the kids quiet and entertained
in the car” go a long way with her.
“I’ve also heard from parents
whose children have learned to talk
listening to Name Your Tune,” she
says. “There’s no greater joy than
hearing that.”—Kim Pallozzi