The health of our community is vital to us as a locally owned family company. As such, we are deeply involved with our community and look for opportunities to support healthful activity. We support many local youth athletic teams and leagues, recreational venues and sporting clubs, as well as educational and community initiatives.
Our sponsorship and involvement in a local youth community center, the Madison House, is one that is very close to our heart. The Madison House, run by the Union Gospel Mission, offers summer and after-school programs that provide a safe haven for youth to help guide them through their educational, emotional and spiritual life. Ed Kershaw, co-founder of Domex Superfresh Growers, serves as chairman of the Madison House advisory committee and works closely with the Northwest fruit industry to raise funds for the maintenance and support of its programs and facilities. Many of our staff also donate their own time throughout the year to help support these and other programs in our communities.
The Yakima Greenway Foundation has successfully created miles of walking/biking pathways around the perimeter of the city of Yakima. An additional pathway connecting Yakima to the city of Naches by following abandoned railway beds has begun, and will utilize land donated by the Kershaw family. Additional support for this project includes funding to build the mile-long portion of the pathway that will be built on this donated land. Rob Conrad, president of Kershaw Fruit, currently serves on the Greenway Foundation’s board of directors.
Developing Leaders Through Ongoing Education
Bob and Ed Kershaw, principals of the Kershaw Companies and co-founders of Domex Superfresh Growers, have always been committed to developing employees’ potential. The Kershaw’s were eager to participate in the University Of Washington’s Foster School of Business which offers a Business Certificate Program providing participants an opportunity to make a major impact in the Yakima Valley. Working collaboratively with university staff, we helped craft the curriculum to gear it toward building employee leadership and business skills. This program is now being offered three times a year in Yakima and is open to all business owners and managers throughout the community.
Superfresh Growers also works closely with the Washington Apple Education Foundation (WAEF) to support college-bound students from the fruit growing areas of Washington. Additionally, every year we award up to $25,000 in scholarships to our staff and their children to assist them in furthering their education. We encourage continuing education by enrolling our field staff in classes that cover subjects such as; food safety, supervisory techniques and language skills. Our sales and marketing staff also participate in industry-specific career development programs created in partnership with our produce industry trade associations
As an industry leader in growing and shipping fruit to all points across the globe, we are actively engaged in the processes that enable free market access for fruit grown in Washington State. The policies enacted by domestic and international governing bodies affect how we do business with our partners around the world. The passage of the current 2014 U.S. farm bill has been driven by those actively engaged in the political process to increase the attention given to our primary crops; apples, pears and cherries. Recently, Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington State, utilized our headquarters facilities to host a press conference regarding the farm bill and its impact on the Washington Ag industry. It is through positive changes in policies like the farm bill, combined with our efforts to grow crops that are in demand all around the world, which create economic opportunities for our shareholders, employees and local communities.
Further, we are drivers in the local organizations that help guide growers, packers and shippers in their business decisions. We are involved with groups as diverse as; Yakima Valley Growers Shippers, Washington Apple Commission, US Apple Association, Yakima Basin (Water) Storage Alliance, among others. Involvement in these organizations, in many instances at the board level, help assure that we have a voice in the future success of the fruit industry in eastern Washington. We remain engaged in efforts to improve the environment and the economy of the areas where we grow fruit, families and communities.