OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

OSU honors state's top family businesses

12/07/1998

CORVALLIS - Some of the state's brightest businesses have earned honors as Oregon Family Business of the Year from Oregon State University's Austin Family Business Program.

"Family business awards recognize the contributions that family-owned businesses make to their industries and to their communities," said Patricia Frishkoff, Austin Family Business Program director. She noted that family businesses employ more than half of the national workforce.

"In Oregon, more than 90 percent of businesses are family-owned," she said. "We established this program over 10 years ago to honor these amazing families."

Winners this year include a Beaverton horseradish producer, a Wilsonville quick copy printer, a Myrtle Point furniture store, a Pendleton publisher, a Portland-area contractor and steel fabrication company and a Woodburn manufactured home retailer.

The awards are presented annually in six separate categories by the family business program.

A panel of 37 family business owners selected the winners from 180 applicants. Criteria included: business development, family-business linkage, contributions to community and industry, innovative business strategies and practices, succession preparedness, and, in most sections, and in most categories multi-generational family business involvement and longevity.

LAZERQUICK of Wilsonville earned the Large Family Business Award for firms with more than 250 employees. LAZERQUICK was honored for its ability to develop a code of ethics built on the premise of "playing it straight."

"People who treat their family and friends with respect and integrity, and who maintain high standards and expectations for performance and behavior, will bring those values to the workplace," said company co-owner Barbara Swett.

Known nationally for its horseradish and specialty mustards, Beaverton Foods of Beaverton, was named Medium Family Business of the Year for companies with 50 to 250 employees. Honored for its products, consistent customer service, and ethical business practices, Beaverton Foods is in its third generation of operation.

Rose Biggi founded Beaverton Foods in the pre-Depression years. She grew horseradish in the backyard and crushed it with a borrowed grinder run by a washing machine motor. Grandson and marketing and sales director, Dominic Biggi recalls that his grandmother was "not shy about teaching morals, ethics and good business practices. Her favorite ploy was to offer a bowl of her famous minestrone soup and then begin preaching."

Today, Beaverton Foods is the largest producer of specialty mustard in the United States.

Founded in 1926 as a funeral parlor and furniture store, Henry A. Schroeder & Sons in Myrtle Point won in the Small Family Business category for companies under 50 employees.

"My brother and I would come down to the store for lunch on school days," explained 92-year-old owner Elton Schroeder. "We never knew if we would be sitting by an empty casket or next to a body." Honored for enduring from a horse-and-wagon era to the fax machines of today, the store continues its innovative business practices and is the largest furniture retailer on the Oregon coast.

The East Oregonian Publishing Co. in Pendleton won in the Old Family Business category for being continuously family-owned for 75 years or more.

Bought by the family in 1908, the East Oregonian is honored not only for longevity as a family-owned firm, but for dedication to core values and good journalism at the expense of short-term profits.

"The key to our continuing success is hiring good people and taking good care of them," said co-owner Amy Aldrich Bedford.

Innovation and expansion are also cited as reasons for longevity. The East Oregonian Publishing Co., Inc. owns and operates five publications throughout Oregon and Washington.

The winner of the New Family Business Award for businesses in operation 10 years or less is Madden Industrial Craftsmen-Madden Fabrications of Beaverton and Portland.

The company provides temporary workers for the construction field and runs a fabricated steel operation as well. Honored for their ability to mix talents and personalities within the family, the Maddens also work to maintain a balance of business and strong home life.

"We realize that the thing that keeps us strong is the five family members that we can talk to and trust completely," said co-owner Paul Madden.

The Woman-Owned Business Award went to Central Homes of Woodburn. Owners Ann Robins and Bonnie Tornow were honored for their team work, adaptability, faith in each other as owners and belief in employees' capability.

U.S. Bank is the lead sponsor for the awards and is joined by five awards underwriters including: MassMutual, Merrill Lynch, Perkins & Company, P.C., Transition Dynamics, and Stoel Rives, LLP.