The Flywheel

Program for April 6, 2007

Kaiser Richmond and the health of West County

Dr. Batchelder, the Managing Director of Kaiser Richmond, will set out the health issues facing West County, and Kaiser's plans for responding to them.

MEETING OF March 23, 2007

Welcome, Invocation, Thought for the Day

President George Egan rang the bell and called the meeting to order, then asked for a moment of silence for world peace. Members said the pledge of allegiance after which Pam Jones offered a thought for the day that was passed along from Werner Schwarz. From what Werner told Pam, the Richmond Rotary Club was started on April 1, 1920, as an off-shoot of the Berkeley Club. Werner said he should know because he was there then. (You decide.)

Rotarians with Guests

  • Carlos Valero was a guest of Leslie Levy.
  • Bill Koziel was a guest of David K.
  • Mark Homestead also joined us as a guest.

Sunshine Report

David K reported that

  • Werner Schwarz is feeling better after his bout with pneumonia (as per the above thought for the day, he sounds like his old self).
  • Charlie Wong’s at home with some discomfort from his knee replacement. He’d welcome calls from Club members.
  • Elof Granberg, slowly recovering after knee replacements and subsequent infection, will be in the Kaiser Post Acute Center until April 15.


  • This week the Princess of Thailand officially accepted the gift of the Rotary Mobil Eye Clinic, to which the Richmond Rotary Club was a major donor. A Rotary delegation travelled to Thailand for the event.
  • The Rotary lunch meeting and tour of the Greater Richmond Interfaith Program (GRIP) facility, scheduled for Friday, April 20, will now occur one week later on Friday, April 27. So April 20 will be a regular meeting at MVCC.
  • Judy Morgan reminded everyone to save the dates for Richmond’s end-of-September (28-30) “Home Front Festival by the Bay”. Besides being the occasion of the official launch of the Rosie the Riveter World War II / Home Front National Historic Park, the festival promises to be one heck of a good time!
  • Joe Bagley again passed around the sign-up list for serving dinner at GRIP the week of April 9-13, from 5:45pm – 6:45pm each day.

Special Events

Erle Brown presented Paul Harris Awards to Allen Baer and Mark Howe as well as a Paul Harris Plus-One Award to Glenn Daggs.



Joe Bagley deftly handled recognitions again.

  • Judy Morgan had a birthday recently and she reported doing lots of fun things.
  • EJ Shalaby enjoyed his 5-year wedding anniversary on March 24 in Kauai, where it rained every day but for only a short time.
  • Reyn Partridge celebrated lots of years in Rotary and he remembers being intimidated by it all back in the early days.
  • Don Lau was recognized for having his mug in the newspaper after attending last Wednesday night’s one-year anniversary celebration for Richmond Police Chief Magnus.

Happy and Sad Dollars

  • Jim Young had happy dollars for his son’s project aircraft not crashing and burning. His other son got a promising interview at UC Davis for a clerkship position.
  • Jon Lawlis was happy to be back after missing several meetings (all on Rotary business).
  • Leslie Levy had a few mixed dollars left over after the $21,000 repair bill for her car, which, while parallel parked, was “mooshed” from behind into the vehicle in front. The happy part of it all was that she wasn’t in the car when it happened.
  • David K had hopeful dollars for his wife’s successful hip replacement, which occurs in three weeks.
  • Don Hardison happily clarified the value of a Russian home that was a hot discussion topic during the recent visit by Russian architects: the value was properly $700,000 not $7,000,000.
  • Josh Genser had happy dollars for the extraordinary desserts brought by today’s program speaker and also for the Palm Springs golf outing that he’s looking forward to next Friday as he tags along on a business retreat with his wife.
  • David Brown also had multiple happy dollars based not only on a recent report from an eye surgeon about him having no further retinal detachment but also on the fact that his son just completed his first week of full-time employment.
  • Don Lau had appreciative dollars for the late Lovi McIntosh (mother of Club member Lisa McIntosh), who Don remembers fondly for tutoring him in how to conduct effective social action programs.
  • Herb Cole served up happy dollars for the fun time he and others had at the recent Small Batch Bourbon tasting and dinner at Pam Jones’ house.

Raffle Results

Joe Bagley had his ticket drawn and pulled a white ball out of the bag.

The Program

A Sweet, Fun Business

Jim Young introduced Paul Levitan, the witty and well-spoken founder of Galaxy Desserts, a Richmond-based company that specializes in making and selling decadent, French-inspired desserts that are to die for. Yes, samples were provided! Eat your hearts out, ye who missed the meeting.

According to the literature, Galaxy is a market “leader in individual gourmet desserts.” Products are “quick-frozen” and sold in all 50 states. The business is growing but there are no plans to go public with a stock offering.

Paul came to California 20 years ago to attend Business School (not Cal). After someone noticed a typo in his career intention sheet (“Investment Baking”), Paul figured he needn’t wait for another sign. After graduation, he went to work for a cheesecake operation in Mendicino County and paid off school bills.

He met some people along the way, including a French Chef, and founded Galaxy Desserts in 1998, across the bridge in San Rafael. Like all startups, the early years were touch and go. Thanks in no small part to Oprah Winfrey falling in love with Galaxy croissants in 2002 after a mail-in baking contest, the business got some serious traction.

It wasn’t the last time Galaxy garnered Oprah’s favor, just confirming that sometimes it’s who you know and who knows you. Paul confessed that Galaxy’s croissants have about 32% butter as compared to a normal USA level of 17-18%.

Other interesting mentions by Paul:

  • Every day, Galaxy produces over 50,000 individual dessert cakes and uses more than a ton of chocolate.
  • In 2004, after running out of production space, Paul moved Galaxy from San Rafael to the old Viking Foods facility on Marina Way South in Richmond.
  • Galaxy will do about $15 million in sales this year, on the way to what Paul sees as annual turnover of $25 million in coming years. He currently has about 120 employees, 40 of whom live in Richmond.
  • Galaxy strives to be a socially responsible company and is a heavy recycler.
  • General business savvy gained over the last few years includes recognition that learning must be constantly accelerated, consensus is often over-rated (make a decision and do), and one should hire slow but fire fast (when needed).

What a gastronomically enjoyable program!

- Rotating Editor, Scribe, etc: Tom Waller