The Door County Economic Development Corporation announced today that Dale and Kristin Seaquist and Jim and Robin Seaquist, owners of Seaquist Orchards in Northern Door County, are the winners of the eighth annual Door County Entrepreneur of the Year Award.
The announcement came this afternoon during the DCEDC annual investors meeting at Stone Harbor Resort & Conference Center in Sturgeon Bay. This year’s award winners represent the fourth and fifth generations involved in a company whose roots in Door County go back to the early 1860’s. The diverse family businesses encompass farming, value-added food production and retail, and gross revenues for their combined companies are over $5 Million.
Seaquist Orchards, LLC farms over 1,000 acres from Gills Rock to south of Sturgeon Bay and now produces over 50% of Wisconsin’s cherries. Seaquist Orchards Processing, Inc. processes about 75% of Door County’s red tart cherries, pitting over 100 million pounds since it began in 1982. Seaquist Orchards Farm Market, LLC has seen remarkable growth since opening in 1987 and is now recognized as one of Door County’s favorite destinations, selling fresh fruit as well as a wide array of specialty Door County products including homemade pies and breads from an in-store bakery. Dixie’s Homestyle Preserves, LLC was purchased in late 2010 and will complement the current line of Door County fruit products, as well as providing valuable off-season employment.
During the peak summer season the company employs over 100 people, and maintains 10 year round employees. Cherry production has increased from about 500,000 pounds a year in 1982 to 5.5 million pounds in 2009. Projections for crop potential in the next 10 years are around 10 million pounds. The processing plant processes between four and nine million pounds of tart cherries annually into retail and industrial packs which are sold to local farm markets, grocery stores and restaurants, as well as juice processors, driers, pie filling manufacturers and bakeries. The company has worked with national customers including Sara Lee, Hostess, McDonalds, Burger King and Wilderness Pie Filling; local customers include Country Ovens, Cherryland’s Best and many local restaurants and bakeries.
The company has been a strong innovator within their industry, and they have also provided leadership to national and regional industry groups for over 50 years. They are a true family business, with many family members contributing. Members of the Seaquist family have also been very active within their community, giving to local charities, supporting community projects and serving in various capacities on local committees.
“It is our pleasure to recognize the Seaquist family with the Entrepreneur of the Year award,” said DCEDC Executive Director Bill Chaudoir. “For multiple generations they have built a strong and complementary collection of business entities. Their contributions to our economy and our community are almost incalculable. We wish them nothing but continued success.”
The Entrepreneur of the Year Award celebrates those individuals who have taken the initiative to start and grow a successful small business in Door County. Eligible businesses include those with fewer than 50 full time employees, exhibiting exciting growth potential and that have at least three years of successful business experience. Last year’s winners were JJ and Kristine Johnson, owners of three landmark restaurants in Door County.
The Door County Economic Development Corporation (DCEDC) is a public/private partnership dedicated to improving the economic vitality of the county and its residents. Founded in 1989, DCEDC has been successful in helping existing businesses create and retain thousands of jobs through a myriad of programs and initiatives. Additionally, DCEDC places strong emphasis on fostering entrepreneurial instincts in county residents as well as those who vacation on the Door County Peninsula. Door County Economic Development Corporation offices are located within the small business incubator DCEDC founded in 1997 at 185 East Walnut Street in the Sturgeon Bay Industrial Park.