LONG-TERM INVESTMENT: Board Chairman Jay Green, center, with CEO Stan McCammon, standing, and Joshua Green descendants, from left, Laura Brisbane, Leslie Hawkins and David Burnett. Photo by Hayley Young.
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Entrepreneur Joshua Green in the late 1880s set out on a long course of business successes for family members after starting in the steamship business. The insurance company he backed became Safeco Corporation.
Joshua “Jay” Green III, board chairman of Joshua Green Corporation, says his grandfather was a 50 percent partner in a shipping business hauling freight from the Skagit Valley to Seattle. It evolved into the Puget Sound Navigation Companies, a precursor to Washington State Ferries. Green’s grandfather sold his interest in the early 1920s and acquired People’s Savings Bank, later People’s National Bank, sold in the 1980s to U.S. Bank.
His grandfather’s investment in a startup that’s now Safeco was sold about 10 years ago, Green says, bringing liquidity that Joshua Green Corporation used to diversify investments. Today, JGC thrives as a privately held investment company. While managing a portfolio of assets, it holds direct interests in many private Northwest companies. JGC also has invested in real estate companies and still owns its namesake building in downtown Seattle at the corner of Fourth Avenue and Pike Street.
Regularly in the office, Green, 81, controls the voting stock in the company and retains decision-making guidance. Regarding investments, he says, “We look for strong ongoing management, a history of earnings and products we can understand. We own or we have a significant investment in quite a few companies now. Going back, I was fortunate enough to work with my grandfather as well as my father for a while. My grandfather didn’t retire until age 102.”
CEO Stan McCammon says JGC invests in companies that have long-standing commodities and services, but also firms that provide solid jobs opportunity — from the Odom Corporation beverage distributor to Far Bank Enterprises, maker of fly-fishing rods. This reflects long-held family owners’ values, he says.
“First of all, the family is very community minded, so when we make an investment, we think about the impact it has,” McCammon says. “More than investing in companies, we’re investing in employees who are paying mortgages and raising kids here.”
McCammon praises Jay Green for strong leadership and thoughtful succession. The company’s 90-plus shareholders are all descendants or spouses of descendants of Joshua Green. “Jay has been a wonderful steward of the family’s assets,” McCammon says. “He’s devised a system where the company is very well positioned for the future.”