Roger Yost, Owner

Roger Yost
Roger Yost

Roger Yost takes life where it leads him.

He has been a writer, editor, adman, marketer, educator, environmentalist, film producer, lyricist, master gardener, nurseryman, restaurateur, art gallery owner, investor, landlord and as many of his former employees and children would add: Coach and Mentor. He remains almost all of them to this day.

Historic Buildings Owner

Yost owns one of Oregon's most historic treasures (Salem's Reed Opera House); he also owns the tallest office building in Salem (The Capitol Center); the 1920 Vick Building, now home to two state agencies; and Yost leases his restaurant building to the Old Spaghetti Warehouse, a popular Italian restaurant. .

Salem Visionary

He is unselfish with his time, serving on boards or committees related to Salem's downtown community, tourism, educational institutions, and the city's future visions.

Why? He says:

"At this stage of my life. I have no lofty personal ambitions. I'm simply dedicated to making this city--our state--a greater place. Greater for art, music, theater and general livability. Giving kids, their parents and teachers, incentives and space to perform and grow. To become special. To begin to recognize and realize their dreams."

Education

Yost was born in Mississippi, January 6, 1936; grew up in Chicago, and received a degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism in 1958 after attending both Grinnell (Iowa) College and Chicago’s Wright Junior College.

Reporter

He achieved his childhood ambition–becoming a reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times–before his 19th birthday.  He spent five years with the newspaper before joining J. Walter Thompson Co., then the world’s largest advertising agency.

Jantzen Advertising Director and Family Man

Along the way he married his high school sweetheart (Barbara Brown), and fathered two children (Kathryn and Douglas), before moving to Oregon in 1965 to join Portland-based apparel giant Jantzen Inc. as its men’s advertising director.

Yost would spend 33 years with Jantzen, where he and his staff won more than 100 regional and national awards for advertising campaigns, graphic design, film making, and cause-related marketing.

Marketing Pioneer

He is credited with being among the first to pioneer sports marketing, using famous athletes to promote Jantzen sportswear in the 1960s and ‘70s, a concept emulated by Nike a decade later.  Among Yost’s “International Sports Club” were Frank Gifford, Bob Cousy, Jerry West, Paul Hornung, Bobby Hull, Don Meredith, Calvin Hill, Lance Alworth,  Tim Brown, Terry Baker, Dave Marr, Tom Watson, Hale Irwin, Peter Jacobsen, Dick Weber, Corky Carroll and Larry Mahan, among others.

Rodeo enthusiasts say Yost’s early use of Mahan, a Brooks (OR) native who would go on to win six all-round riding championships, helped validate the sport and give it national credibility. 

He earned similar praise for his early recognition and Jantzen sponsorships of surfing, windsurfing, women’s beach volleyball, synchronized swimming, and a worldwide environmental campaign called “Clean Water.”

Real Estate Investor

Yost began investing in real estate in 1977 with the purchase of the Queen Anne Apartments on Portland’s now trendy Northwest side and an oceanfront home in Arch Cape.  He later invested in a five-unit strip mall in Lake Oswego, that is now the cornerstone of the Lake View shopping center.

Nurseryman

In 1994, while still at Jantzen and traveling more than 100 days per year, Yost purchased a 42 acre tract in Newberg and developed the Wine Country Nursery.  It became one of America’s fastest growing garden centers, and prompted Yost to leave the apparel company in 1998 and devote his entire energies to the nursery business.

Highest Award Winner

Before departing Yost received the American Advertising Federation’s Silver Medal – its highest award – for his creative endeavors and environmental leadership.

President of NNBA

While building his “Disneyland for gardeners,” Yost was elected president of the Northwest Nursery Buyers Association and addressed the industry’s national conventions on the art of branding and growth.

He sold the nursery in 2003, which prompted his move to Salem, where he thought his skills and interests in historic properties would allow him “to make a difference."