Zillah Lakes Inn Co-Owner Pam Lakman was featured in the local Business newspaper in April 2024.

Woman Business Owner Offers Words of Wisdom to Others

Yakima Valley Business Times, April 2024
by Bob Kirkpatrick, Managing Editor

Do your research, make sure there’s a market for what you have in mind, create a business plan, have other people look at it and then get to work.

That’s the advice Pam Lakman, with the Zillah Lakes Inn, offers would-be women entrepreneurs contemplating entering the business world.

Pam co-owns and operates the Inn, which she and her husband Doug broke ground on in spring 2017.

“We went through the whole process of designing and building the Inn, including all the fixtures and furnishings,” Pam said. “Then immediately we needed to jump into operating it, which is a completely different skill set — it’s been quite the ride.”

The six-room Inn sits on a 3,000-square-foot lot overlooking a small lake stocked with bass and provides views of Mount Adams and Mount Rainier.
Guests can enjoy many outdoor activities, including walking trails, bicycling and golf, all available on the grounds

Pam said it took a lot of work initially to get it up and running, but the experience gained, and the end product was well worth the effort.

“That first year, it was 24 hours a day, and it was exhausting. My son told me it looked like my head was on a swivel,” Pam said. “We had a lot of balls in the air trying to make a name for ourselves, and we did, and that’s probably been the most exciting part of it all.”

Doug and Pam lived and worked in Moses Lake before moving to Zillah.

“Doug was recruited by the Strosahl family, who owned United Builders at the time,” Pam said. “He was hired as their property manager and continues in that position.”

She said Doug is also on hand to greet people at the Inn and manage the landscaping crews and cleaning staff.

Pam is the full-time Innkeeper handling the day-to-day running of the business.

“I take care of the marketing, purchasing, inventory and scheduling the staff,” Pam said. “I also interact with guests during their stay and on the phone when necessary.”

This year marks the Lakmans’ seventh year in business. Pam said a lot had changed since they opened the inn doors.

“We were planning to add another building, but COVID hit, and with the supply chain issues, lenders were worried, so we pivoted and decided to upgrade the property instead,” Pam said. “A local craftsman, Evan Rupert, built a pergola to give shade and privacy to the patio and gas firepit. overlooking the lake. We also added an outdoor kitchen with a barbecue grill, fridge and cook space and put in sod for a grassy area, trees, flowers and shrubs in our adjacent lot.

“Surviving COVID was a stressful time, and certainly a learning experience. It was also a sad time for a lot of people in business. We lost people that were colleagues and friends of ours to that disease. But we persevered and made it through it.”

Pam said perseverance, determination and the ability to make needed changes are what it takes to become a successful business owner.

“When you get through your first year, step back and look at it and see what you might want to change. Don’t be afraid to try something new because you can always go back to what you were doing before,” Pam said. “As you grow with the business, you may get a different view and perspective. It can all be pretty scary, and some fail the first time. But entrepreneurs can be pretty stubborn and will fi nd something that works.”

Pam said she “loves supporting other women entrepreneurs in business.”

“Sometimes you don’t know what you’re meant to do until you try something else,” she said. “I went to school to become a teacher, but that wasn’t my destiny. Look at me now.”

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