Smith Brothers Farms
This Kent valley dairy likes to call itself “a 94-year-old startup” because of the constant changes in the dairy business. In 2006, Smith Brothers Farms sold its farm and cows to concentrate on milk processing and home delivery; since then, it has added online ordering, streamlined home delivery route management and begun serving larger wholesale customers. In less than a decade, the company has doubled in size — all while operating a family-owned business that is now in its fourth generation, with four branches of the family having an ownership stake. The recipe for limiting family disagreements: “Frequent, clear and honest communication among the family shareholders — no surprises.” The tight-family ethic is even present in the company name: With just one cow and a handful of customers, Benjamin Smith started his company in 1920 and named it in honor of his two sons, Dan and Howard. Today, 48 milkmen and two milkwomen deliver Smith Brothers dairy products to more than 45,000 homes across the Puget Sound region every week.