Lakeside life is swell in the US
An 18-month career opportunity has turned into a 22-year adventure for Barry Clayton and family.
Where are you from?
I was born in Westport, grew up in Masterton and played rugby for Wairarapa Bush under the great coaching of Sir Brian Lochore. My wife Jo, three sons and I moved to Sydney in 1993 and then to Portland, Oregon, United States, in 1995 with a fourth son born in Australia (bugger).
My claim: I believe I am the only Kiwi dad to have four boys all play for New Zealand in international matches and all on the field together (in the New Zealand men’s lacrosse team at the world cup). My sons are Richard, Michael, Andrew and John.
What inspired your move, and how long have you been there?
There was an opportunity in the bakery ingredients business and it was planned as an 18-month opportunity. We have been in Lake Oswego, Oregon, for 22 years.
What do you do there?
I was a founding partner in an enzyme technology company that was eventually sold to Associated British Foods and became part of the AB Mauri division serving the baking industry.
I am currently managing director for bakery ingredients responsible for three facilities: one in Greenville, Texas; one in Cedar Rapids, Iowa; and the facility we founded in Wilsonville, Oregon.
What are the greatest advantages to living there?
Oregon is very similar to New Zealand with trees, mountains and rivers. We are very fortunate to live on a magnificent lake where we can boat downtown, enjoy the restaurants and safely boat home.
The scenery is spectacular and does not have the population of California! Oregon also has spectacular wineries and they do not attract the large crowds of California.
The disadvantages are the lack of rugby and cricket coverage.
How expensive is it compared to New Zealand? How much is a beer?
Oregon has the advantage of no sales tax, although we do have a 10 per cent state income tax. Overall the cost of living to raise four boys is significantly cheaper than in New Zealand on a day-to-day basis but is offset by crazy university costs and healthcare costs later in life.
Beer is cheap – $3 for a six pack – and Oregon has numerous microbreweries. Portland is known to have one of the best diverse food cultures in the United States.
What do you do in your spare time?
I enjoy riding my BMW RT 1200 motorbike in the diverse Oregon countryside, visiting wineries, playing golf and boating on our lake.
What’s the local delicacy and would you recommend it?
Oregon is famous for salmon and I would highly recommend it. It’s also known for Dungeness crab. Excellent.
Easiest way to get around?
Portland does have a max train system but overall traffic is becoming an issue. We have hundreds of hire bicycles supplied by the city.
What’s the shopping like?
Excellent, but not my cup of tea. They need more benches and Irish pubs in malls for the blokes!
Best after-dark activity?
I am happy with a nice pinot on the deck or eating at many of the fine dining spots.
Best time of year to visit?
July through October. This area has a spectacular summer (and great hiking trails).
What are the top three things you recommend for visitors?
Multnomah Falls, a trip to Timberline Lodge (Mt Hood, where The Shining was filmed) and the Oregon Coast.
Besides family and friends, what do you miss most about home?
The down-to-earth culture and the ocean fishing in the Bay of Islands. Good fish and chips, marinated mussels and the Kiwi slang.
How easy is it for you to get back to New Zealand?
With more airlines flying it has become more affordable to return to New Zealand annually. The distance does not worry us as landing still feels like home.
For Kiwis looking to move there, which industries are seeking fresh talent?
Mainly technology: Intel, Nike and Flir. Oregon is also highly regarded in medical science.
On a final point, all four boys achieved college degrees and two recently married, one to a US lass and one to a Norwegian.
My oldest son, Richard, has decided to make the move back to New Zealand. It will be interesting to see how he adapts.
Barry Clayton, left, and his wife, Jo, right, at the wedding of their son Mike and his wife Meredith.
Barry’s wife Jo snowboarding at Mt Hood.
Barry’s son John and dog Zeke under an Eagle Creek waterfall in the Columbia gorge, Oregon.