The “Mighty Oak” Celebrates 80 Years
By Kim Tozier
So much has changed since 1938. The average home sold for $3,900.00, wages averaged $1,730.00 per year, the price for a new car was around $763.00 and gas was only .10 per gallon. In tandem, oil was discovered in Saudi Arabia, the ball point pen was first introduced and a new synthetic yarn known as nylon was initially used to produce toothbrushes.
During the same year, a modest local supplier of fresh evergreen brush known as Northwest Evergreens first opened its doors sited among the lush forests of Shelton, Washington. Today, this “Mighty Oak grown from a little acorn”, is known as Hiawatha Evergreens and consequent to the many changes that have transpired over eighty years the company has evolved, expanding their product line and size.
In the beginning, the owner was W.C.P. Allen who built the original plant in 1938. L.G. Shelver acquired the company in 1947. Larry Stevens began working for Northwest Evergreens as a young man and later partnered with Richard Pasalich in 1973 to purchase the company from Mr. Shelver. Mr. Stevens remains an owner today along with Mr. Pasalich, who is also company president.
Subsequent to the partnership merge, operations diversified in the mid-seventies and Hiawatha began producing decorative Christmas greens and designer products, followed by another trademark item, supplying dried products, such as moss and pine cones. At present Hiawatha’s innovation continues to progress, by adding a new line of products in biodegradable containers with all-natural accents. By the same token, the company became MPS-ABC certified; an eco-friendly standard recognized worldwide.
Collectively with growth comes employment. In 1982 Hiawatha expanded, employing about 120 workers during Christmas production season with twenty five year-around employees. Business significantly grew to where the company was eventually hiring around seven to eight hundred employees to produce and ship enough greenery to supply all their customers. This once-a-year harvest, processing and shipping marathon all happens in a three month period beginning October and ending in December.
The Hiawatha Corporation (DBA Hiawatha Evergreens) is a competitive international distributor whose customer base consists of Wholesale Florists, Grocery Chains, Mass Market Retailers, Garden Centers and the Craft Industry. The company has progressed from its Shelton location to include other business locations in Washington and Oregon.
Transitioning for what lies ahead is much like the Boy Scout motto, “Be prepared.”
E-commerce is becoming the new wave of doing business as the brick and mortar slowly begins to crumble and the demand for online shopping escalates. Hiawatha experienced a significant increase in their drop ship business in 2017 and foresees the continual expansion in the years ahead. Online sales entail a different production and shipping process therefore it comes with a host of new challenges. The company is persistent in making adjustments and improvements to guarantee perpetual quality and on time deliveries to preserve the trusted Hiawatha Evergreens brand.
When all’s said and done, Hiawatha Evergreens has much to celebrate on its eightieth birthday. This Mighty Oak will continue to grow along with the demands of a flourishing industry and with collaboration from its cooperative trade partners.