2016 Community Impact Awards: Business of the Year - Large

Winner: Tree Top Inc.

Gold Award: 
Tree Top Inc.
Location: Selah  |  Employees: 1,100  |  Top Exec: Keith Gomes, CEO  |  treetop.com

For Tree Top, beauty is literally more than skin deep. The Selah-based company has created a thriving and successful business by saving “ugly” fruit and turning it into premium products such as applesauce, purees, fruit juice and dried apple products. Tree Top was founded in 1960 as a hometown agricultural cooperative by a group of growers in Washington’s apple country. Today, it is owned by more than 1,000 apple and pear growers in the Pacific Northwest and is one of Washington’s largest privately held companies. As a big user of water, Tree Top’s corporate mission is to reduce both its use of fresh water and its discharge of wastewater every year, with each of its nine plants required to continually find ways to conserve. In the community, Tree Top gives nearly a half-million dollars a year to more than 50 local charities. “Tree Top has a long history of supporting our communities to create a better place to live and work for all of us,” says CEO Keith Gomes, “so now it’s hardwired into our culture of generosity and concern for others.”

Bright Idea: Labor Saver

Bright Idea: Labor Saver

Forget email. Shyft Technologies makes shift swapping easy.

New legislation requiring Seattle businesses with 500 or more employees to schedule workers’ hourly shifts two weeks in advance will be a boon to some, but it could complicate the lives of many workers and employers.

Seattle startup Shyft Technologies has created a free smartphone app that simplifies the tangled dance of schedule shuffling by making it easier for employees to swap shifts and for bosses to get shifts covered on short notice. 

The app notifies all staffers automatically when open shifts are posted. Swaps can be approved right on the app. By matching in real time the hours when workers are available with the hours employees need work done, the app creates a more efficient market.

A worker or manager can easily add a bonus as an incentive to fill a shift on short notice, says

Shyft CEO Brett Patrontasch. “It’s a lot easier than email,” he observes. Meanwhile, workers can quickly change their availability status if they want to make more money or free up more time.

The Shyft app uses a combination of geolocation, financial transactions, machine learning and big data analytics to determine availability and pricing. The goal is to create an on-demand workforce that has more control over schedules while providing employers with the fluidity to operate efficiently.

As of late September, more than 12,000 Starbucks baristas, 3,500 Old Navy staffers and 7,500 McDonald’s employees were using Shyft’s app.

Founded in Toronto, the startup moved to Seattle in February to participate in the three-month Techstars mentoring program. This past summer, Shyft obtained $1.5 million in funding from Seattle’s Madrona Venture Group and other investors.