EVERETT — A four-generation, family-owned small business has been recognized for its successful history.
The H.O. Seiffert Co. received the U.S. Small Business Administration’s 2013 Washington State Family-owned Small Business of the Year award. The award honors family-owned and operated businesses that have been passed on from one generation to another with at least a 15-year track record. Honorees also have a demonstrated history of success with growth in sales and profits, increased employment opportunities for family members, potential for future growth and volunteer efforts to strengthen family-owned businesses in the community.
The company’s current president, Pat Sievers, accepted the award on May 9 at the 2013 SBA Annual Small Business Awards Gala at the Museum of Flight in Seattle.
“It’s undoubtedly a great honor,” said Sievers, 42. “It’s certainly a celebration of our history and duration in the community and it was nice just to share it with others who have been part of that success.”
The H.O. Seiffert Co. has had the longevity and ability to prosper through great and hard times, said Lorin Smith, a spokesman for the U.S. Small Business Administration Seattle District Office.
“I think that could be a good demonstration to other businesses as to what a stable company can look like,” he said.
The H.O. Seiffert Co. got its start in Everett in 1897 when a lumber dealer in Davenport, Iowa, sent four brothers to the area to form a shingles brokerage. They bought out the Everett assets and incorporated in 1901 under the parent company’s name.
One of those men, John Sievers, was his grandfather, said Ray Sievers, 73. When John Sievers died in 1934, the company was operated by his three sons.
“It was the middle of the Depression so my dad and two uncles took over and they had their struggles,” said Ray Sievers. “But loyal employees count for an awful lot when you go through those tough times and so does just having the dogged determination to make it through.”
Ray’s father, Roy Sievers, served as president of the business and continued to operate it as a retail-wholesale merchant of building materials until his retirement in 1969. Ray Sievers took over as president and in 1975 began transitioning The H.O. Seiffert Co. into a real-estate development and operation company. Today, the company owns and manages real-estate investments. The company’s portfolio consists of three Everett Downtown Storage locations, a 108-unit apartment complex in Stanwood and other partnership interests in medical office and retail space.
For Pat Sievers, the opportunity to learn how to run his family’s business came in 1997 when Ray Sievers offered “half the pay and twice the hours” to work with him. Pat Sievers, who was named company president in 2000, appreciates his uncle’s mentorship and support.
“I think it’s extremely valuable to me having his presence and historical perspective and having someone who has lived through cycles of things to continue to make good decisions,” he said. “Certainly there’s the inherent motivation or desire I have to see the company endure and take care of the prior generation and provide opportunities for the future generations.”
Those who built and managed the family business have also shown by example how important it is to be involved in the community, Pat Sievers said. That trait was passed down to him and he’s active in local Rotary clubs, the YMCA and the Boys &Girls Clubs of Snohomish County.
The H.O. Seiffert Co. has also received recognition for its long history by being named a Century Corporation by the Washington Secretary of State’s Office. The distinction reflects 100 years of active corporate status.
While accepting the company’s latest award, Pat Sievers noted that only a small percentage of family businesses survive for four generations.
“It’s a recognition of stubbornness, I guess, but success, too,” he said.