The Center, Red Twig and Segway

The Jantz family runs 3 high-profile businesses in Edmonds
By Brian Soergel | Sep 08, 2017
Photo by: Brian Soergel Gregg Jantz Jr.’s Segway of Edmonds is in a new location, on the waterfront by the fishing pier.

No pressure, but Benjamin Jantz may want to start thinking about how he’s going to further his family’s commitment to the Edmonds business community.

Benjamin is 15 and washes dishes at Red Twig Bakery and Cafe, which is run by his mother, LaFon. Benjamin attends King’s in Shoreline, where his brother Gregg Jr. graduated in June.

Gregg is 18 and recently began studies at Seattle Pacific University, where he plans to major in business and computer engineering. He’s written a self-help book for teens and has his eye on a private pilot certificate.

Oh, and Gregg started Segway of Edmonds at age 12, and still is CEO at its latest location, on the waterfront by the Edmonds Fishing Pier.

On to the father, Gregg Jantz Sr. He’s the founder of The Center, A Place of Hope, in Edmonds, and can frequently be seen on local TV news segments, as well as on CNN and Fox. He’s found time to write more than 35 books.

The Jantzes may not be the best-known family in Edmonds, but they’re near the top.

Welcome to Seattle

It’s not hard for Gregg Jantz Sr. to remember the day he arrived in Seattle after growing up in Boise and graduating from Boise High School.

May 18, 1980.

“I came to Seattle on the day that Mount St. Helens blew up,” he said recently during an interview at – where else? – Red Twig. (Gregg Jr. would be joining us soon – he was on his way from flying solo at Arlington Airport.)

“I was coming here to go to school at Seattle Pacific. I was on the freeway at the Renton S-curves. The sky grew dark and cars pulled off the freeway. I thought, what’s going on? I’m just a kid moving here. I didn’t know there was a volcano.”

After that welcome, Jantz quickly settled in, studying counseling and psychology at SPU while working as a disc jockey for legendary radio personality Pat O’Day.

It was at SPU that Jantz met his wife, LaFon. As he explains it, they both had a vision of starting a counseling center in Puget Sound; research suggested they might do well on the booming Eastside, home to Microsoft and all things tech.

“But we’d been to Edmonds and just loved it,” Jantz said. “So we decided that Edmonds was where we wanted to live.”

That was in 1982. After short stints in downtown Edmonds and Richmond Beach, the couple moved to their current home in Woodway, where they’ve lived since 1987.

The Center, at 547 Dayton St., is a counseling facility founded in 1984 that provides nutrition, fitness, natural health care – “whole person care,” as Jantz calls it, that includes programs for depression, stress, addiction, sexual abuse, eating disorders, “high profile privacy” and “spiritual renewal.”

“We look at all the issues,” said Jantz, who added that the facility employs about 40. “It’s all individual, based on what they need in a program. It’s not inpatient, but we have facility housing.”

The “whole person,” Jantz said, incorporates the emotional, physical and spiritual.

As for the latter: Although it is not mentioned on the Center’s website, Jantz is a religious man who – as his books make clear – offers “biblically sound advice” and helps people come “to an understanding of God, not as a frightening authority figure or an accusing judge, but as a loving Creator, Redeemer, and friend.”

He stresses though, treatment at the Center is based on individual needs.

Segway

It was at age 11, while vacationing with his family in Hawaii, that Gregg Jr. first spied a Segway, a two-wheeled, electric personal transportation device with handlebars and controlled by a number of gyroscopes that help keep it in balance as users move forward, back, and left and right. It has a top speed of about 12 mph.

“I took a tour and loved it,” Gregg said. “I started thinking what it would look like back home.

With his father’s advice, he wrote a letter to the CEO of Segway, Dean Kamen, who offered Gregg a tour of Segway’s headquarters in New Hampshire.

(Kamen sold the company in 2010 to British multimillionaire Jimi Heselden, who nine months later died after driving a Segway 80 feet off a cliff and into a river in England.)

In 2011, Gregg and his father placed about 10 Segways into the former Running in Motion store at Fourth and Main in Edmonds, owned by Frank Yamamoto. After Yamamoto closed the store, Segway Tours of Edmonds was mobile for a while before finding a home as the first tenant of the newly renovated Old Milltown business block at Fifth Avenue South and Dayton Street, just down the street from the Center.

Late last year, Gregg moved the business to its current location on Admiral Way by the fishing pier. He said he loves the spot, business is up, and the store frequently draws business from ferry traffic. He also notes that Segway Tours of Edmonds remains the only authorized dealer in the state, as it also sells Segways and provides repair services.

The store offers a one-hour self-guided tour ($25), as well as three 90-minute guided tours – historic, sunset and V.I.P., the first two $75 and the latter $85. Gregg said he’s learned a lot about the city’s history, gaining much of it from late Mayor Harve Harrision.

Like his father, Gregg is a published author. Earlier this year saw the release of “40 Answers for Teens’ Top Questions,” in which he shares writing credit with his father and Ann McMurray, who has collaborated on many of Jantz’s previous self-help books.

The book doesn’t shy away from sensitive topics, with chapters such as “Where do babies come from?,” “What’s going on with girls and periods?” and “What’s going on with guys and sex?” Gregg also writes about “addiction to pornography,” the benefits of abstinence until marriage, and offers heartfelt and honest answers to questions on religion, God and church.

While he’ll keep his eye on the Segway business while attending college, Gregg also will continue his flying lessons in a Cessna.

“I know there’s a future for me in flight, but I’m not sure exactly what that is,” he said. “It’s beyond a hobby.”

What does Gregg Jantz Sr. think of his son flying?

“It’s great,” he said. “I need a pilot!”

 

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