CORVALLIS, Ore. - Four Oregon companies received the 2006 Excellence in Family Business Awards presented by Oregon State University's Austin Family Business Program at a ceremony held Nov. 16 at the Oregon Zoo in Portland.

The awards recognize the achievements of family businesses in areas such as innovation, entrepreneurship, commitment and community involvement. The OSU College of Business' Austin Family Business Program 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 go through two rounds of judging, which includes a written statement and an oral presentation. The awards are open to any family business in the country.

This year, more than 200 businesses were nominated for the awards and 60 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.

Thuy Tran, assistant director of the Austin Family Business Program, said the finalists and winners get more out of the awards than the physical plaque and ceremony.

"For me, there is nothing more satisfying than hearing our award process prompted a family to begin formal succession planning, or that winning the award put their business in the public eye and pushed them to take their business practices up a notch," she said.

Diversified Welding Works, Inc. of Vancouver, Wash., won the award in the micro category, which is open to businesses with nine or fewer employees. The company was honored for working together to overcome tremendous adversity, planning for growth while carefully attending to profits, demonstrating honesty and integrity and including committed employees in business succession plans.

Oliver Insurance of Canby and ArborBrook Vineyards of Newberg were finalists in this category.

Collier Arbor Care of Clackamas won in the small category, which is open to businesses with 10 to 24 employees. Since 1937, the company has provided tree, shrub and lawn care to the Portland area. In 2004, Collier received the TCIA Heritage Tree Maintenance Excellence in Arboriculture Award for its pro-bono work on the 400-year-old Oregon White Oak at The Oregon Garden in Silverton. Judges chose Collier for a number of reasons, including its cutting-edge technology, environmental stewardship, a strong safety program and its estate and succession plans.

The finalists in this category were Lukas Auto Painting & Repair of Portland and Cascade Publications of Bend.

In the medium category (25 to 99 employees), Drake's 7 Dees took top honors. This Portland company has two divisions: a nursery and a landscaping service. Judges said the company is well organized, has a large breadth of family involvement, an open-book budgeting system and is a good steward of the land.

Security Signs of Portland and Lakeside Lumber Company of Tualatin were the finalists.

The top large business (100 or more employees) this year was Halton Co. of Portland. The company was started in 1940 by E.H. "Ted" Halton, Sr. and now has more than 300 employees. Halton Co. sells, services, and leases all types of heavy equipment and engines and is the Caterpillar dealer for Oregon and southwest Washington. Judges cited the business' service to the community, as well as its commitment from the younger generation of family members, generosity with donations and scholarships for employees and the fact the company established a formal training program for its employees.

There were two finalists in this category: Eagle Newspapers of Dallas, Ore. and Portland-based restaurant Typhoon!

The judges were chosen by the Austin Family Business Program and included board members, faculty 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, and the Portland Business Journal.

For information about the Family Business Awards or the Austin Family Business Program, go to

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Thuy Tran,