Five Skagit County businesses recognized by AWB

Five Skagit County businesses recognized by AWB Main Photo

21 Nov 2023

Ten Washington employers received top honors at the Association of Washington Business' annual Evening of Excellence awards ceremony Nov. 16. Two of those top honors went to Skagit County businesses Sedron Technologies and Chinook Enterprises; Dakota Creek Industries, Goodwinds Composites and Janicki Industries were all recognized as finalists.

"It's noteworthy and exciting that five of the nine finalists in the three manufacturing categories are Skagit companies," noted John Sternlicht, CEO of EDASC.  "This demonstrates that innovation and excellence are the hallmarks of Skagit businesses such as these. We congratulate these five award winners!"

AWB’s 2023 award winners and finalists are:  

Employer of the Year: Recognizes a Washington state employer who has implemented innovative job retention, creation, benefits, and/or compensation plans that foster a thriving work environment. 

Winner: Accra-Fab, Liberty Lake, is a manufacturer that has implemented unique programs for employees. Accra-Fab's in-house training academy, the University of Accra-Fab, supports education and career advancement for employees across all positions. In 2022, the company started a food pantry to assist employees struggling with food insecurity. The program received overwhelming support from staff, who quickly stocked the pantry with donations, matched 100% by Accra-Fab.  
Other finalists: 

TAL Building Centers, Vancouver 

ToolCraft, Monroe 

Girl Scouts of Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho, Spokane 

Entrepreneur of the Year: Given to a Washington state entrepreneur whose business is less than 5 years old and has made a significant impact in their industry.
Winner: ZinBoats, Seattle, manufacturers zero-emissions electric speedboats. Piotr Zin, founder and namesake of ZinBoats, launched the startup in 2020 just as the pandemic got underway. Even as the pandemic shut down production for two years, ZinBoats persevered and released new boat models in 2023.
Other finalists:  

Spruce Properties, Poulsbo 

Orion Watch: Community Outreach Programs (OW:COP), Olympia 

Washington Achieve Award: Recognizes a Washington state business that has excelled in creating, implementing or supporting a high-caliber education and/or workforce development system aligned with closing the employment gap.
Winner: Pathfinder Manufacturing, Everett, provides job training to at-risk high-school students. Student trainees build and assemble airplane parts, earning both high-school credit and a wage. More than 98% of students in the program graduate from high school, and one-third of Pathfinder's full-time team are former student trainees. 

Other finalists:  

Bristol Meyers Squibb, Bothell 

Wagstaff Inc., Spokane Valley 

 Leading Environmental Practices: Recognizes a Washington state business that has put a priority on environmental improvement, education or outreach to their business sector and/or community. 
Winner: Swire Coca-Cola, Bellevue, has a recycling program that diverts 98% of waste from the landfill, and has set a goal for a minimum of 50% recycled material in primary packaging by 2030. Swire Coca-Cola upcycles its 55-gallon HDPE ingredient drums into rain barrels. It has also achieved a water replenishment rate of 265% through collaborations on water restoration projects. 
Other finalists:  

LSW Architects, Vancouver 

Twelve, Moses Lake 

Washington Advance Award: Recognizes a Washington state business that has had a significant impact in their sector, contributing to the advancement of their community and/or statewide economy.
Winner: Port of Kalama, Kalama, is the second largest exporter on the West Coast, shipping agricultural products from all over the country, and in 2020, set a new record for soybean exports. The port supports more than 5,000 direct and indirect jobs, including more than 1,400 directly employed by the port and its 40+ tenants. To expand waterfront activities, the port is working to build the Kalama Crossing pedestrian overpass replacement and 33,000-square-foot Mountain Timber Market, set to open later this month. 
Other finalists:  

Symetra, Bellevue 

Eileen and Callie's Place, Kent 

Washington Veterans and Families Award: Recognizes employers who have developed and applied hiring and retention best practices for addressing the employment challenges faced by veterans, transitioning service members and military spouses.
Winner: Energy Northwest, Richland, employs about 30% military veterans, providing apprenticeships, on-the-job training programs, career mentoring and more to its veteran employees. Energy Northwest operates Columbia Generating Station, the only nuclear power plant in the Pacific Northwest. The veteran workforce has contributed to the station's many achievements, including recent recognition as an industry top performing plant and a 2022 annual generation record for megawatts produced.  
Other finalists:  

STEP - Support the Enlisted Project, Tacoma 

Flagship Maritime LLC, Tacoma 

Excellence in Family Owned Business: Given to a family-owned business that is setting the standard for excellence and success by growing the business while serving their communities and paying close attention to the personal touch in customer service.
Winner: Westport Winery Garden Resort, Aberdeen, is owned and operated by the Roberts family, including Blain, Kim and daughter Carrie. The resort is also the home of Ocean's Daughter Distillery, the Sea Glass Grill and the International Mermaid Museum. The business was named 2022 Washington Winery of the Year and has earned more than 700 medals in international wine competitions.
Other finalists:  

Washington Shoe Company, Renton 

Christensen, Inc., Richland

Manufacturer of the Year: This premier award recognizes a manufacturer that has a commitment to business excellence, has found creative solutions to challenges that raise or enhance the industry standard, as well as involvement in state and/or local public policy issues that affect manufacturers. 

Winner: Wagstaff, Inc., Spokane Valley, is a worldwide leader in aluminum casting technology and builds custom industrial equipment. In the past two years, the company has launched its new APEX mold technology for customers in the aluminum industry. To support workforce development, Wagstaff has partnered with East Valley High School to revamp the school's wood and metal shop, and also runs the Wagstaff Business After School program for over 150 students and teachers to learn about manufacturing on-site. 

Other finalists: 

Dakota Creek Industries, Anacortes 

Altek, Liberty Lake 


Manufacturing Excellence Award for Operational Excellence: Recognizes a manufacturer that has a distinctive manufacturing process, including continuous improvement, lean and six sigma and/or application of high technology. 

Winner: Chinook Enterprises, Mount Vernon, supports employment and full participation in community life for people with disabilities and other barriers. Since its founding in 1980, it has served more than 6,000 people. The organization employs 60 across three divisions: community employment, landscaping and grounds maintenance, and manufacturing, production and assembly. Chinook has supplied aerospace parts to Boeing since 1987. 

Other finalists:  

Goodwinds Composites, Mount Vernon 

Quickparts, Seattle 


Manufacturing Excellence Award for Innovation: Recognizes a manufacturer that has maintained a competitive advantage by utilizing innovation while remaining responsive to market demands. 

Winner: Sedron Technologies, Sedro-Woolley, develops innovative water, energy and waste treatment technologies. Sedron’s Varcor newly developed system converts liquid waste into clean water and fertilizer using an energy efficient method. Sedron has deployed the Varcor technology across North America to process dairy manure and septic waste.  

Other finalists: 

CarbonQuest, Spokane Valley 

Janicki Industries, Sedro-Woolley