|Left to right: Bill Taylor, Justin Taylor, Paul Taylor.|
After trying his hand at ranching with Wyatt Earp in Arizona, Justin and Edwin Taylor’s great-grandfather J.Y. Waldrip moved to western Washington in the 1880s where he fell in love with oyster and shellfish farming in Puget Sound. Starting out with a couple of helpers, the Taylors’ great-grandfather created a legacy that would last for more than 100 years.
In the late 1960s, Justin and Edwin Taylor took over the family business. Though the company also had timber interests, Justin had a passion for shellfish. He and Edwin, who has since died, expanded the business, growing additional varieties of shellfish and acquiring more land. The firm has been passed down to Justin’s sons Bill and Paul, the fifth generation, who started out processing oyster meat in high school.
Taylor Shellfish Farms
With 88-year-old Justin serving as an adviser, Bill and Paul now run Taylor Shellfish Farms, the largest producer of shellfish in the U.S. Under the family’s leadership, the business has grown to approximately 480 employees and 11,000 acres of tidelands in the Puget Sound region, British Columbia and Fiji.
While annual revenue is now more than $50 million, the Taylors have also been good environmental stewards, vowing to ensure that Puget Sound remains clean and clear. In recognition of his efforts as a shellfish farming pioneer, Bill Taylor was recently awarded the Joseph P. McCraren Award for Distinguished Lifetime Contributions to the Aquaculture Industry. Along with brother Paul, Bill has helped to modernize the shellfish industry in the Pacific Northwest.
Along with other family members, including Paul Taylor’s daughter, sixth-generation Brittany, the brothers remain actively involved in the daily operations and management of the farm, yet they are looking to the future. Through estate and succession planning, they will ensure that their life’s work remains in the family.
“The Taylor family believes that the company is bigger than the individuals, but they are family and the goal is to keep ownership in the family,” explains Pete Miller, a consultant for the company. “However, they don’t see it as a birthright, either. The next generation has to be capable and willing.”
Wilcox Family Farms
Judson and Elizabeth Wilcox started Wilcox Family Farms in 1909. Now with 150 employees, the company sells eggs and egg products on the wholesale market and raises laying hens in Roy, Wash., and Willamette, Ore. Its products are sold from the California border up to the North Slope of Alaska. More than 100 years old, the family business is run by the fourth generation of Wilcoxes. The firm’s current CEO, Linda Thomas, is not a family member, but it is her charge to transition the management of the company back to family members after identifying their strengths and placing them in appropriate roles.
Uwajimaya, Seattle’s well-loved retailer of Asian products, was launched in 1928, when Japan-born Fujimatsu Moriguchi began selling homemade fishcakes from the back of his truck in Tacoma. He and wife Sadako expanded to a retail store in Tacoma. But in 1942, during World War II, the family was sent to the Tule Lake internment camp in California. After the war, the family moved to Seattle where they reopened Uwajimaya.
The company saw significant growth in 1962 during the World’s Fair in Seattle when it began to market products to non-Japanese clientele. Though Moriguchi passed away that summer, his four sons took over the family business, building an Asian grocery and gift store that now generates close to $100 million in revenues and employs more than 400 people. Three generations of Moriguchis work at the company, including CEO Tomoko Moriguchi Matsuno and vice chairman Akira Moriguchi.