Top Family Businesses Honored at Awards Event in Portland


CORVALLIS, Ore. – Four Oregon companies received the 2007 Excellence in Family Business Awards, presented by Oregon State University’s Austin Family Business Program, at a ceremony held Nov. 15 at the Oregon Zoo in Portland.

This year is the 20th anniversary of the Excellence in Family Business Awards.

The awards recognize the achievements of family businesses in innovation, entrepreneurship, commitment and community involvement. The Austin Family Business Program, in OSU’s College of Business, serves family-owned companies through workshops, seminars and family business management courses.

Businesses are nominated for the awards by companies and individuals. The nominees then must apply for the awards and go through a two rounds of judging that includes a written statement and an oral presentation. The awards are open to any family business in the country.

This year, more than 120 businesses were nominated for the awards and 35 went through the application process.

In addition to the four winners, eight businesses were selected as finalists and also honored at the gala event at the Oregon Zoo.

Robin Klemm, interim executive director of the Austin Family Business Program, said the finalists and winners get more out of the awards than the award and ceremony.

“The best thing about this awards process is getting a chance to meet with growing family businesses that emerge as award winners and role models for successful, multigenerational companies,” she said. “I’m excited to know that as winners of the Excellence in Family Business Awards, these businesses have the opportunity to be in the public eye and gain recognition from their constituents.”

Wanderlust Tours of Bend won the award in the micro category, which is open to businesses with nine or fewer employees. The company was honored for developing a new business concept, helping urbanites connect with the natural world, promoting understanding of historical, cultural and environmental issues in central Oregon and compensating employees at well above industry norm.

Sweeney Promotions, Inc. of Salem and Timmco Insurance of Portland were finalists in the micro category.

Thompson’s Sanitary Service, Inc. of Newport won in the small category, which is open to businesses with 10-24 employees. Since 1963, the company has offered three generations of excellence in community service, leadership in environmental responsibility, adopted new technologies to keep rates low and is recognized for valuing diversity in the workplace.

The finalists in this category were Lacey Glass, Inc. of Lacey, Wash. and Wilfs Restaurant & Bar of Portland.

In the medium category (25-99 employees), Kadee Quality Products Co. took top honors. The White City-based company was honored for keeping manufacturing jobs in the United States, inventing a product that changed an industry, taking control of its supply chain and creating more than 40 patents.

Mattress World Inc. of Clackamas and Paradise Harley-Davidson and Buell of Tigard were the category finalists.

The top large business (100 or more employees) this year was Typhoon! The company was honored as a category finalist in 2006 and is recognized this year as a winner for improving the lives of hundreds around the world, promoting diversity in the workplace and setting the standard for excellence in Thai cuisine.

There were two finalists in this category: Benchmade Knife Company of Oregon City and Interstate Roofing, Inc. of Portland.

The judges were chosen by the Austin Family Business Program and included board members and past winners.

The Austin Family Business Program at OSU began in 1985 at the suggestion of Joan Austin of Newberg-based A-dec, Inc., and was endowed by Ken and Joan Austin in 1994.

West Coast Bank is lead sponsor of the program. Other sponsors are Black Helterline LLP, Boldt, Carlisle & Smith LLC, DeLap White Caldwell & Croy, LLP, MassMutual Financial Group, Ferguson Wellman Capital Management, Inc., and the Portland Business Journal.

For information about the Family Business Awards or the Austin Family Business Program, go to www.familybusinessonline.org.