2019 Family Business Awards, Growth: Flax4Life

Plus: Silver Award winner Kiona Vineyards and Winery
| FROM THE PRINT EDITION |
 
 
NATURAL INGREDIENTS. Bill and Dagmar Francis, owners of Flax4Life, with their daughter, Kasondra Shippen, at left, who is the general manager of the company.

This article appears in print in the December 2019 issue. See more about the winners of the 2019 Family Business Awards here. Click here for a free subscription.

Flax4Life
Location: Bellingham

The gluten-free food market could be worth almost $8 billion in the United States by 2020, according to projections from Arcadia Biosciences.

Flax4Life was creating gluten-free products long before they became a thing. Founded in 2001, the family-owned and operated bakery makes certified gluten-free flax muffins, granola, buns and brownies. The 45-employee company has grown revenue at least 10% per year since its founding and plans even more growth.

Flax4Life was born after several family members became ill and were eventually diagnosed with Celiac Disease, which is an immune reaction to eating gluten — a protein found in wheat, barley and rye.

“It became our mission to develop products that have many health benefits, are gluten-free, dairy-free and nut-free (with the exception of coconut) made with all-natural ingredients but most importantly taste delicious,” the company says.

The fourth-generation business is run by Bill and Dagmar Francis and their daughter, Kasondra Shippen, who serves as general manager and “the woman in charge around here,” according to the company website. Kasondra’s husband, Jason, serves as maintenance man.

The company says since it is “still a small business,” it holds weekly meetings to discuss strategy and to deal with conflicts.

Silver Award

Kiona Vineyards and Winery
Location: Benton City

Kiona Vineyards and Winery says “multiple members of multiple generations” work together on a daily basis to make the business function. The 15-employee company was founded by John Williams and Jim Holmes, who planted their first grapes on 10 acres on Red Mountain — near the Tri-Cities — in 1975. Wine was first produced under the Kiona name five years later. Today, the third-generation company has expanded acreage to more than 270 and produces approximately 25,000 cases of wine per year, distributed in 40 states and internationally. Kiona also grows wine grapes for more than 60 of the top wineries in the Pacific Northwest and partners with Washington State University for viticulture-related research.

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