Press Release

Thursday, November 21

Outstanding Washington employers honored at AWB's Evening of Excellence

Special event recognizes startups, environmental improvements, thriving workplaces and more

OLYMPIA — The Association of Washington Business presented its top awards to six employers Wednesday at the fourth-annual Evening of Excellence, presented by Banner Bank.

More than 220 entrepreneurs, advocates and business leaders celebrated the achievements of Washington's private sector at Seattle's Benaroya Hall. Employers were recognized for their work to improve the economy and quality of life in Washington by creating new companies, a thriving work environment and environmental improvements, among other categories.

"This is our chance to say thank you to the extraordinary Washington employers that support our communities," AWB President Kris Johnson said. "Washington is fortunate to have so many outstanding private employers that call the Pacific Northwest home. At AWB we're honored to recognize their accomplishments, appreciate their hard work and advocate for the right conditions so all employers can thrive."

Each of the six award categories listed below align with AWB's mission and vision.

Employer of the Year: Recognizes an employer that has implemented innovative job retention, creation, benefits, and/or compensation plans that foster a thriving work environment.

Blackwood Builders Group is a growing team of contractors, project managers, designers and real estate developers that build custom homes in the Seattle area. The company emphasizes open communication, training, outstanding benefits and teamwork to both care for its employees and accomplish projects. The company builds homes for those in need in Central America, and also supports Seattle Children's hospital, Bainbridge Land Trust, New Beginnings, Weld Seattle, Rampathon and Seattle For Growth through its charitable work.


Les Schwab Tire Centers of Washington

MultiCare Health System

Entrepreneur of the Year: Given to an entrepreneur whose business is less than five years-old and has made a significant impact in their industry. is a Seattle company that enables online conversations with global consumers at scale. Its video conversations and market research platform allows companies to easily connect with customers around the world. In contrast, focus groups can provide valuable insights, but take months to organize. The company's live video platform can provide customer insights more quickly and affordably. started small a few years ago, and now connects companies to millions of customers in more than 95 countries. The firm was ranked among the nation's fastest growing companies by Inc. magazine last year.



Leading Environmental Practices Award: Recognizes a business that has put a priority on environmental improvement, education or outreach to its business sector and/or community.

Avista is a regional, investor-owned utility created in 1889. Founded on clean, renewable hydropower on the banks of the Spokane River, Avista has maintained a generation portfolio that is already more than half renewable, while continuously making investments in renewable energy, advancing the efficient use of electricity and natural gas, and driving technological innovation that creates a gateway to a clean energy future. The company is expanding its wind generating capacity, is piloting a battery system to store renewable energy, and has partnered with Washington State University on a major smart grid demonstration project. The company's goal is to serve customers with 100 percent clean electricity by 2045 and have a carbon-neutral electricity supply by 2027.


Feed Commodities, LLC

Green Crow Corp.

Achieve Award: Recognizes a business that has excelled in creating, implementing or supporting a high-caliber education and/or workforce development system aligned with closing the employment gap.

The Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee (AJAC) is a statewide nonprofit apprenticeship organization founded on the belief that mastery occurs on the job. AJAC was founded in 2008 to help close the skills gap in aerospace and advanced manufacturing by providing registered apprenticeship training to people pursuing high-demand occupations like machinists, industrial maintenance mechanics and tool and die makers. Apprenticeships offer paid, on-the-job training with related classroom instruction. AJAC has served 1,333 apprentices at 293 companies since 2008. The organization also supports a Youth Apprenticeship and Pre-apprenticeship program. AJAC's work is critical to support the highly-skilled workforce needed to power Washington's strong manufacturing sector.


Out of the Box Manufacturing

SGL Composites, LLC

Connect Award: Recognizes a business whose products and/or services have positively impacted the way in which Washington employers and communities are connected to each other and the world.

The mission of Delta Air Lines, Inc. is to serve as a global network connecting people, places, businesses and communities. Delta has complemented Washington's population growth and skyrocketing demand for travel in recent years by connecting passengers to more destinations via Seattle. Delta currently serves 60 destinations from Washington, and has added 28 since 2014. The number of flights has increased by 129%, and the number of seats is up 101% during peak travel days. The company is also continuously investing in new aircraft to enhance passenger experience.


Amazon Web Services

Twin Bridges Marina

Advance Award: Recognizes a business that has had a significant cause-oriented impact in its sector and/or community and contributed to the advancement of the economy.

Emerson Salon is a community of independent hair designers located in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood. As a commercial landlord, Emerson provides small business owners an opportunity to rent a chair and equipment, and helps them maintain profitability in a growing city.

Emerson supports community organizations and offers business coaching to commercial tenants. Notably, Emerson Salon's D'Arcy Harrison helped organize thousands of cosmetologists and small business owners in opposition to several bills that were harmful to their industry in the 2019 legislative session. The work of Harrison and other salon owners was critical in protecting their ability to work as independent contractors and create flexible schedules.


Safe Boats International

Wells Fargo Bank

AWB also recognized Washington's outstanding manufacturers Wednesday evening. These awards were previously announced during AWB's Manufacturing Week bus tour in October.

Manufacturer of the Year: Feed Commodities, LLC

This Tacoma company is a premier recycler of bakery and food byproducts into livestock feeds.

Manufacturing Excellence Award for Operational Excellence: Cascade Designs

Seattle's Cascade Designs was recognized for its distinctive manufacturing process, including continuous improvements and innovations.

Manufacturing Excellence Award for Green Manufacturing:

The Phillips 66 Ferndale Refinery

The refinery was recognized for its work to maximize energy efficiency, exceed regulatory requirements and minimize waste from the production process.

Manufacturing Excellence Award for Innovation: Kitsap Bank

This family bank's innovative edg3 FUND program helps create a dynamic way of funding small startup businesses.

For high-resolution photos of this year's Evening of Excellence, please contact AWB's Brian Mittge at

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