You may have thought the big story for Friday, January 20, 2017 was the inauguration of our forty-fifth president. But for those of us in the family business community in the Pacific Northwest, the Puget Sound Business Journal gave us something else to focus on – the PSBJ’s first-ever Family Business Report.

In many respects, the Family Business Report is the first of its kind in Washington, providing insight into the top family businesses in our region and the role the family business community plays in our local economy. As reported by the PSBJ, the top fifty Washington family businesses brought in revenue of $9.3 billion last year.  And that is only the top fifty.

The “Family Business of the Year” award was bestowed upon the Sabey Corporation, a real estate and investment corporation specializing in mission critical and other technical space for the data center, medical and life sciences, education, government and military sectors.  The company is based out of Seattle and led by chairman and president, Dave Sabey and his son, CEO, John Sabey.  As compared to some of its peers in the family business community,  Sabey Corporation is actually quite young, having been founded in only 1971.  The oldest continuously operating family business on the PSBJ’s list was the Bartell Drug Company, dating all the way back to 1890.

Other family businesses highlighted included:

  • Saltchuk Resources, with its well-known portfolio of logistics and transportation businesses,
  • Kitsap Bank, a runner-up for the oldest Washington business featured in the report,
  • Harbor Wholesale Foods based in Lacey, and
  • Maryhill Winery in Goldendale, an example of one of the many thriving family businesses outside of the I-5 corridor.
  • The PSBJ is also hosting a morning symposium on January 24, 2017 to discuss the issues relevant to family businesses in our region today, which will include panel presenters from some of the most prominent family business names in the area. Thanks to the PSBJ for their attention and commitment to this essential sector of our economy and our community.
 Drew Steen is a business transactions attorney at Davis Wright Tremaine, LLP.  He represents both buy-side and sell-side clients in mergers and acquisitions, venture capital investments, joint ventures, equity co-investments and restructurings.  He also serves as regular corporate counsel for several closely-held and family-owned companies.  Drew can be reached via email at or directly at 206.757.8081.