Washington Family Business Awards 2012: Large Firms (150+ employees)

| FROM THE PRINT EDITION |
 
 

GOLD WINNER:
Baker Boyer

City: Walla Walla
Employees: 161

Baker Boyer Bank’s roots tap back to Dorsey S. Baker’s Walla Walla mercantile, which supplied early settlers and gold miners, and became a trustworthy repository for buckskin bags filled with gold dust. Chartered soon after Washington became a state, the family-owned community bank came through the Depression operating at 100 percent capacity, later opened the first drive-through window in town and was the first locally owned bank in its part of the state to open a branch.

Today, the bank is helmed by fifth generation D.S. Baker descendant Megan Clubb and guided by eight family board members (of 12) and 69 family shareholders.

“The family piece has really provided a strong, stable united ownership group that has the same mission,” says Peter Allen, VP/senior trust and financial adviser and sixth-generation descendant. He says stability “allows us to take a long-term approach,” focusing on the legacy rather than on short-term returns.

With each new generation, keeping everyone connected and engaged in the bank’s future becomes a challenge and a priority, adds Allen, whose generation is the first that didn’t grow up together. Maintaining the connection going forward is important for the current owners, who hope to pass the bank down to future generations.

SILVER WINNER:
Powell-Christensen Inc.

City: Grandview
Employeves: 385

Powell-Christensen is a diversified business with major interests in fuel, lubricant and propane distribution, convenience stores, truck stops, automobile sales, retail tire sales and real estate. It markets throughout the state and has direct supply contracts with every major oil company. Founded by Ray E. Powell in 1935, the firm was acquired by Gary and Annette Christensen in 1980, and has expanded both through organic growth and acquisition. Its subsidiaries include R.E. Powell Distributing, SeaPort Petroleum and Mid Valley Chrysler Jeep Dodge. Five family members are involved in the business, including son Tony Christensen, who is chief operating officer.

SILVER WINNER:
Oak Harbor Freight

City: Auburn
Employees: 400

Three generations of Vander Pols have driven Oak Harbor Freight Lines into the ranks of the country’s top less-than-truckload (LTL) carriers, which specialize in the shipment of relatively small loads. Last year, it ranked 33rd, according to The Journal of Commerce. Co-presidents Edward and David Vander Pol are the sons of the late Henry Vander Pol, who, with his two brothers, purchased Oak Harbor Transfer in 1936. After several decades of acquisitions, expansions and deregulation in the 1980s, today Oak Harbor serves California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon and Washington, posting revenues of more than $150 million annually.

More information: Washington Family Business Awards 2012

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