CORVALLIS - Four Oregon firms have been honored with the 2003 Excellence in Family Business Awards, presented by Oregon State University's Austin Family Business Program.

The awards recognize the achievements of family businesses in a number of areas including innovation, economic and community contributions and commitment. The OSU College of Business' Austin Family Business Program provides service and support to family-owned businesses through workshops, training seminars and OSU's family business management course.

Award winners were selected from nominations from businesses and individuals from throughout the region earlier this year. This year's winners include firms from Yachats, Portland, Salem and Canby.

Raindogs, a retail store in Yachats, was the top firm in the "micro" category, which includes businesses with nine or fewer employees. The firm opened in July 2000. Judges noted the firm's efforts to establish a store with a "feel" appreciated by customers that has developed into a town social center. The Bookkeeping Company and Roth and Miller Autobody, both of Portland, were finalists in the category.

Among small businesses with 10 to 24 employees, Portland Transmission Warehouse earned top honors from Austin Family Business Program judges.

In making their selection, judges made note of the firm's work to create a family atmosphere to make employees feel valued, as well as efforts to retain employees within the company and establishment of a neighborhood car show that strengthens connections to community. Finalists in the small business category were Tyco, Inc. of Moses Lake, Wash., and Collier Arbor Care of Clackamas.

The top medium-sized business, with 25 to 99 workers, is DeSantis Landscapes of Salem. Judges praised the firm's efforts to build a company that employed many family members over three decades, as well as made a commitment to volunteering time to community. Finalists in the category include Tomco Electric of Bend and Tec Laboratories in Albany.

The top large business with 100 or more employees is Cutsforth's Thriftway Market in Canby. Judges praised the firm for efforts to encourage employees to stay with the store for 20 years or more as well as the firm's work to remain linked to the community and continuing work to expand and refine the store and to remain competitive. Finalists in the category were First Response of Portland and The Fisher-Ernst Group of Albany.

Additionally, the National Family Business of the Year Award, presented by MassMutual Financial Group, sponsor of the national program was presented to Hotchkiss Co., a ranching operation in Burns. MassMutual established the National Family Business of the Year Award to recognize and honor the most successful of America's estimated 12 million family businesses.

Fully 90 percent of Oregon's businesses are family-owned, and these firms contribute more than $24 billion in annual payroll to Oregon's economy.

Sponsors of the program and the awards include West Coast Bank, MassMutual, Black Helterline, Delap White Caldwell & Croy, LLP, The Business Journal, Lincoln Financial Advisors, Boldt, Carlisle and Smith LLC and The Rainier Group Inc.

For information about the Family Business Awards or the Austin Family Business Program, call (800) 859-7609 or visit


Click photos to see a full-size version. Right click and save image to download.


Mark Green, 541-737-6017