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Lavonne Kreykes (left) and Veronica Skojec, who have worked together at Clear Light for 16 years, pose in the nearly empty production room on the last day of sales.

Josh Peine created Clear Light the Cedar Company, and his sister Penny kept it running for eight years after his death.
Photo credit: —Courtesy of Penny Peine

Elves moving on as cedar company ends long run

—Bill Diven

The Placitas Elves kept Josh Peine’s dream alive for eight years after his death, but they, too, are moving on.

Retail sales at Clear Light the Cedar Company ended in early March, and an estate sale scheduled for the last weekend of the month was to clear out the rest. After that, new owners were to take over the property and make it all residential.

“No job was ever like this,” said Veronica Skojec, a 17-year veteran of production and management. “We were very spoiled, especially by Penny.”

Penny Peine, Josh’s sister, first thought the company might fold after Josh died in 2006 at age 69. Lavonne Kreykes, who has 16 years with the company, said they were willing to keep working if Penny could do the rest from her Midwestern home.

“I wanted to keep his dream alive and didn’t want the girls to lose their jobs,” Penny said. “He was a subject of his passions, and Clear Light was his world… Forty-six years in business isn’t so bad, especially with how he started out—just little cedar bags for his friends.”

Peine started from his home, and in 1985 built a new home, store, barn and production space on State Route 165 at Camino de las Huertas. Peine discovered Placitas after giving up a TV-and-movie career to roam on his motorcycle. He learned of the healing, cleansing, and ceremonial powers of green cedar, a relative of juniper, from Native Americans in the Four Corners.

Making sachets for friends evolved into in a line of incense, lotions, and other products sold to an expanding customer base and appearing in retailers’ international catalogues.

He also became a fixture in Placitas and a regular at Silva’s Saloon in Bernalillo, known as a good, if mercurial, friend with a gruff exterior.

Skojec started in production but eventually moved into the office, although not without concerns about whether she could handle the job and her boss. Once she saw past the gruffness, Skojec said, she found Peine to be a caring person who encouraged her and shared his knowledge of the business and its production. “We are the Cedar Elves,” she added. “We all do everything.”

“And that’s what we are,” added Kreykes. “And I’m proud of it.”

Both said they are taking a little time away from working before looking for new jobs.

Among the last signs of Peine on the property were numbered placards designating parking spaces. Peine appears on each in caricature, drawn by the Signpost’s late Rudi Klimpert, wearing an elf hat and holding a sprig of cedar.

And whatever use the new owners find for the barn, more than Peine’s spirit will remain. “At least the barn will smell good,” Penny said. “It’s got thirty years of drying cedar in bins and that scent being absorbed into the walls.”


Register now: “Grow Your Local Business” educational series

Did you know that the primary source of job growth in every community is attributed to 11 percent new business, eighty percent existing business expansions, and nine percent start-up operations?

Sandoval Economic Alliance has teamed up with the Dynamic Growth Business Resource Center to provide monthly educational workshops for our local business owners. SEA and DGBRC are organizing and facilitating peer-oriented roundtables that meet on a monthly basis. The goal is to provide comprehensive support and resources that are otherwise not available. We recognize and appreciate the importance of existing business as a main source of economic stability in our community and are committed to providing support for continued vitality and growth of local businesses.

Classes will be offered every second Wednesday of the month at Sandoval Economic Alliance from 8:00 to 10:00 a.m. A light breakfast and course materials will be provided. The fee for each course is $39 dollars.

The dates of our 2016 courses are listed below:

April 13: New Mexico Incentive Programs for Your Business

May 11: Finding Talent for Your Business

June 8: Branding and Marketing for Your Business

July 13: New Mexico Incentive Programs for Your Business

August 10: Public and Private Financing for Your Business

September 14: Commercial Real Estate for Your Business

October 12: New Mexico Incentive Programs for Your Business

November 9: Finding Talent for Your Business

For more information, visit the Sandoval Economic Alliance Website: sandovaleconomicalliance.org/category/events/. To purchase tickets, visit the Dynamic Growth Business Resource Center’s Website: dgbrc.com/events-2/.


Placitas Chamber of Commerce offers business networking and commmunity involvement

The public is invited to join the Placitas Chamber of Commerce (PCOC) “Meet and Greet” at Blades’ Bistro on the patio from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. on April 21. The Placitas Chamber of Commerce is dedicated to creating events to promote businesses in Placitas and the surrounding areas, and offering helpful events for business owners.

The public is also invited to join PCOC for their Adopt-A-Highway event from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. on April 23 in honor of Earth Day. This highway clean-up has been coordinated with ES-CA, Placitas Chamber of Commerce, Blades’ Bistro and Las Placitas Presbyterian Church. “We're cleaning up most of Highway 165 in one day. Join the Chamber; join the fun,” said PCOC President Jennise Phillips.

 
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