The 2014 Family Business Awards: Large Firms

| FROM THE PRINT EDITION |
 
 

WINNER

Harbor Wholesale Foods

Lacey

Harbor Wholesale Foods, which distributes to convenience stores, small grocers and restaurants, has come a long way since 1923, when it was founded in Aberdeen by Swedish immigrant Carl Erickson. It also has come a long way in just the past 10 years, with tripled revenue, five acquisitions, construction and purchase of new facilities, the addition of new product and customer segments, and the establishment of a family real estate holding company. With the fourth generation of Ericksons leading the firm, Harbor Wholesale Foods is looking for more ways to combine family heritage with professional management techniques. It has set up a board consisting of three family members and four outside nonemployee directors to advise on strategy and provide an objective review of family members’ performance and compensation. Testimonials from Harbor Wholesale’s clients also resonate. “For over 30 years, Harbor Wholesale has been our supplier,” says Robert Knudson of Casa Mia Restaurants in Olympia. “It’s not often that businesses maintain relationships for three decades. That alone is testament to their service, loyalty and support.” Adds Jamey Balousek of Marine View Ventures in Fife: “Our relationship with Harbor is so much more than wholesaler/retailer. Harbor’s knowledge of the convenience store industry, as well as our local market, is the key to our success.” 

SILVER AWARDS

El Gaucho Hospitality
Seattle
Veteran restaurateur Paul Mackay revived the El Gaucho name and built it into a five-restaurant, one-hotel company with annual revenues of nearly $30 million. Mackay and son Chad would meet regularly to discuss strategy and company performance. Family members can work for the company but they have to start at entry-level positions. Next up for El Gaucho: Paul’s long postponed retirement — he originally planned to step down in 2008, but the recession hit — and Chad’s succession as president and COO, plus expansion into off-site catering and looking for new locations in the Pacific Northwest.

Electric Mirror
Everett 
Four Mischel family members work at Electric Mirror’s headquarters, planning and managing a record of phenomenal growth for the maker of lighted mirrors (often with built-in TV screens) found in many hotel rooms. Family members take part in executive staff meetings, budget decisions and product planning, and frequent conversations help prevent disconnects over decisions. Sales grew by more than 50 percent in 2013, and 2014 should prove to be a strong year as well, with expansion into the residential market, new territories such as the Middle East and new product innovations.

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