Tractor and caramel corn companies founded in Keno to be topics of January IDEA Talk

The entrepreneurial stories of two Keno, Ore., residents will be shared at the Jan. 15 IDEA Talk at MC’s on Main, 5:30 to 8 p.m., in downtown Klamath Falls.

The Big IDEA feature speaker is Keno Tractors founder Eric Nystrom. Eric and his wife, Diana, relocated to Klamath Falls in 1991. While raising their three children, Eric took a job with a Fortune 500 company selling copiers and later added networking connected devices to his professional repertoire. After discovering corporate America was not for him, in 2005 Eric started Keno Tractors out of his garage in Keno. Fourteen years later, the company has grown to a multimillion-dollar corporation selling tractors domestically in the United States and abroad. The company supports nine employees and their families.

“It’s wonderful to be able to present two exceptional entrepreneurial stories from our own outlying communities. It just goes to show that you can be entrepreneurial anywhere!” said Klamath IDEA Director Kat Rutledge.

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Above: Eric Nystrom

The Early Stage Spotlight of the night will be the story of Michael Woodbury. Michael founded the Keno Carmel Corn Company in 2017, with business partners Margie Lipe and Manuela Daly. Enjoying a rural way of life, Mike moved to Keno in 1989. After feeling the aches and pains of a career in the trades, Mike made a mental note to investigate other long-term career options. Making caramel corn had been a hobby of Mike’s for several years, and after giving the sweet treat away as gifts, Margie encouraged Mike to seize the golden opportunity that was right in front of him. After some consideration, Mike decided to start a business selling caramel corn. Mike hopes to expand the corn company into a successful full-time operation so he can retire from his work in the trades.

“I want to be the next Oregon Cookie Company guy,” Mike said.

Klamath IDEA is a community initiative dedicated to creating wealth and prosperity for the communities of South Central Oregon. We are committed to developing a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem to strengthen existing small businesses and support the emergence of new endeavors by providing easy access to help and information they need, when they need it. Klamath IDEA links several elements of the entrepreneurial ecosystem: economic development organizations, government agencies, business resource providers, and financial and human capital. Klamath IDEA then connects growth-minded entrepreneurs to the elements and one another.

The 2019-2020 IDEA Talks season has been generously sponsored by the Klamath Community College Small Business Development Center, Craft3, the City of Klamath Falls, and Klamath County.

Food, provided by MC’s On Main, and one non-alcoholic drink ticket is included in the cost of entry. A no-host bar will be available. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and presentations start at 6 p.m. Those interested in attending this event can purchase discounted tickets in advance online at or on Klamath IDEA’s Facebook page for $15. Tickets will also be available at the door for $20 (cash only).