Stemilt Growers, a third generation family business owned and operated by the Mathison family, was awarded the Family Legacy Award at the 2011 Washington Family Business Awards ceremony on November 3, 2011. John Levesque, managing editor of Seattle Business Magazine, stated that Stemilt was selected because the company "exhibits characteristics of a progressive, forward-looking family business over multiple generations.” Stemilt Growers is now the largest organic tree fruit supplier in the United States and the Mathisons attribute their success to the hard work and resilience of three generations.
Stemilt president, West Mathison accepted the award with his brother and father. West and his family received the Legacy award as an honor and "a tribute to the hard work and perseverance of three generations before us and especially that of my late grandfather and Stemilt founder, Tom Mathison. We are very blessed to be able to follow in their footsteps and will continue to do all that we can to build off of their great legacy.”
The family's legacy began three generations ago, when Thomas Mathison homesteaded 160 acres atop Stemilt Hill, overlooking Wenatchee, WA in 1893. Thomas recognized the region's ideal growing conditions for tree fruit. He began planting apple, pear, and cherry orchards in 1914. Tom Mathison, the second generation took the helm in 1947 and turned around a business that was barely breaking even. Tom found a more efficient way to harvest cherries and later began packing his own fruit as well as other local growers' harvests. Eventually, he founded Stemilt Growers in 1964 with the family's first controlled-atmosphere storage room and began delivering high-quality fruit to consumers worldwide. Stemilt Growers gradually expanded its operations with additional state-of-the-art apple, pear, and cherry packing storage facilities to eventually become a leader in the tree fruit industry. In 2005, West Mathison began carrying on the success as the third generation Mathison in the fruit growing business.
As the recipient of this year's Family Legacy Award, the Mathisons are featured in the December 2011 issue of Seattle Business Magazine. Stemilt Growers was joined by seven other companies as recipients of the 2nd annual Washington Family Business Awards. Other winners included: Hillcrest Bakery of Bothell, WA, small company winner; Rainier Connect of Tacoma, WA, midsize company winner; Hotstart of Spokane, WA, large company winner; Dick's Drive-In Restaurants of Seattle, WA, community involvement award; Nelson Legacy Group of Redmond, best practices award; Mercer Canyons Inc. of Prosser, WA, business transformation award; and Wallace Properties of Bellevue, leadership award winner.
Click here for the full story
See other Family Award Winners