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Hiawatha Evergreens celebrates 80 years in business

In 1938, a fresh evergreen brush supplier known as Northwest Evergreens first opened its doors in Shelton, WA. Today, the company is known as Hiawatha Evergreens and over the past 80 years the company has evolved, expanding their product line and size.

Owner W.C.P. Allen built the original plant in 1938 and L.G. Shelver acquired the company in 1947. Larry Stevens, who began working for Northwest Evergreens as a young man, 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.

KIM-TOZIERKim TozierSubsequent to the partnership merge, operations diversified in the mid-70s and Hiawatha began producing decorative Christmas greens and designer products, followed by another trademark item, supplying dried products, such as moss and pinecones. Hiawatha is presently adding a new line of products in biodegradable containers with all-natural accents.

The company also became MPS-ABC certified; an eco-friendly standard recognized worldwide.

In 1982, Hiawatha employed about 120 workers during Christmas production season with 25 year-around employees. Business significantly grew to where the company was eventually hiring around 700-800 employees to produce and ship enough greenery to supply all its customers. This once-a-year harvest, processing, and shipping marathon all happens in a three-month period beginning in October and ending in December.

The Hiawatha Corporation (DBA Hiawatha Evergreens) is an international distributor whose customer base consists of wholesale florists, grocery chains, mass-market retailers, garden centers and the craft industry. The company has expanded from its Shelton location to include other business locations in Washington and Oregon.

E-commerce is becoming the new wave of doing business as brick-and-mortar stores slowly crumble and the demand for online shopping escalates. Hiawatha Evergreens experienced a significant increase in its drop-ship business in 2017 and foresees continual expansion in the years ahead.

Online sales entail a different production and shipping process and, therefore, come with a host of new challenges. The company is making adjustments and improvements to guarantee consistent quality and on-time deliveries, and to preserve the Hiawatha Evergreens brand.

When all is said and done, Hiawatha Evergreens has much to celebrate on its 80th birthday. The company will continue to grow, along with the demands of a flourishing industry and with collaboration from its cooperative trade partners.

Kim Tozier is assistant sales manager at Hiawatha Evergreens in Shelton, WA. She can be contacted at kim.tozier@hiawathacorp.com.