AGRICULTURE

There are few businesses that can claim 70 percent of any market. Orchard-Rite Ltd. Inc. can.

The Union Gap manufacturer decided to switch from selling oil-fired orchard heaters and irrigation equipment to wind machines early in its 52-year tenure, in response to rising oil prices in the early 1970s. Wind machines help keep frost from forming on trees in an orchard.
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Miles Kohl, 49, has been CEO of Allan Bros. Inc. since 2007. He came to the job after spending several years as the executive director of the Yakima Valley Grower-Shippers Association, which later merged into the Washington State Tree Fruit Association.

Kohl oversees a staff of 600 full-time employees and 2,500 workers during peak harvest season who work across Allan Bros.’ packing operation; the company’s orchard business, Yakima Valley Orchards; and its Pasco-based vineyards, Sagemoor Vineyards.

Allan Bros. business operations include 3,500 tree fruit and wine grape acres and 30 acres that house its packing operation in Naches. Most recently, the company completed construction of a 300,000-square-foot building expansion.
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Agriculture in the Yakima Valley

Agriculture has long been the driving force of the Yakima County economy.

In 2017, the market value for agricultural products sold from Yakima County was nearly $2 billion, according to the Census of Agriculture from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Yakima County reported the highest market value among the state’s 39 counties and generated 21 percent of agriculture sales statewide.

It’s no surprise, then, that the sector generates a sizable portion of jobs in Yakima County. In 2018, the agriculture sector had an average of 32,340 jobs, or about 28 percent of the 116,329 jobs in all of Yakima County, according to figures from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages. The number of jobs increased 7 percent from the previous year.

Wages for agricultural positions have continued to increase, though they remain below the countywide average. In 2018, the average annual wage for jobs in the agricultural sector was $31,731, a 3.2 percent increase from the $30,755 in 2017, but below the county average of $39,893.

Agriculture also has an indirect impact on other industry sectors, such as construction, manufacturing and wholesale trade. A sizable portion of wholesale trade jobs are from companies that pack and ship agricultural commodities grown in the county. Manufacturers in the Yakima Valley produce everything from plastic bags to mechanical harvesters for the agriculture industry.

— Mai Hoang

RETAIL

The Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages reported 14,293 retailers in Washington in 2018 paid out more than $22 billion to an average of close to 380,000 employees who earned, on average, about $59,000 a year.

According to the data, 619 of those firms operated in Yakima County, employed more than 11,000 employees, and paid out more than $349 million in wages, for an average salary of about $31,400 a year.

In terms of number of businesses in the county, the top three categories are food and beverage, motor vehicle and parts, and gas stations.

The Department of Revenue’s annual report for taxable sales for Yakima County in 2018 identified more than 6,800 retail units that brought in close to $2 billion in taxable sales, including $496 million from motor vehicles and parts retail, $119 million from food and beverage retail, and $57 million from gas stations and convenience stores.

Joe Schmitt, director of business and recruitment for the Yakima County Development Association, also shared data that showed about 14 percent of the city of Yakima’s 3,555 businesses are in the retail trade. Read more

HOSPITALITY

When Varietal Beer Co. opened its doors in Sunnyside last year, the five co-owners intended to make high-quality beer with local ingredients and create a meeting space for community members.

They anticipated selling roughly a third of their beer in-house and distributing the rest.

A year and a half on, their accomplishments have surpassed their goals, said brewer and co-owner Chris Baum. Read more

Wanda Riel has been in hospitality in the Yakima Valley for 40 years.

At 19, she was hired by the owner of Holiday Inn and worked her way through every department over 16 years before becoming assistant general manager.

From there, she has helped open and run three new hotel properties, including the Holiday Inn Express in Union Gap, which she currently manages. She also was the general manager of the Hilton DoubleTree, where she said she grew her career working in food and beverage operations.

With years of experience under her belt, Riel shared what it takes to run a successful hotel. Read more

By the numbers: Hospitality

Food and beverage

Taxable sales by restaurants and food services in Yakima County have grown by more than two-thirds in the last decade, bringing in roughly $340 million in 2018 across 580 businesses. In 2008, 498 businesses collectively had taxable sales of $195 million, Department of Revenue data shows.

Sales have increased significantly year-on-year, having grown by $21 million from 2016 to 2017 and by $22 million from 2017 to 2018, it shows.

Nearly 6,200 people were employed in the industry in 2018, with an average annual income of roughly $18,000, according to the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages preliminary data for the year. Roughly $112 million in wages were paid across the sector.

Accommodations

Taxable sales in Yakima County accommodations have remained more steady, but have grown slightly as new hotels have joined the market.

In 2018, 76 businesses had sales of roughly $49 million, compared to 68 businesses making up roughly $43 million in 2008, data from the Department of Revenue shows.

The industry employed 628 people in 2018, paying an average of roughly $21,000 annually per employee, according to the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages. A total of roughly $13.3 million was paid in wages that year.

Tourism

The Yakima Valley netted a yearly total of $410 million in tourism-related revenue in 2017, up $30 million from the previous year, according to Yakima Valley Tourism’s 2018 annual report.

The report said there were 10,519 walk-in visitors to the Visitor Information Center and 517 sporting events held through the Yakima Valley Sports Commission.

— Janelle Retka

CONSTRUCTION

Michael Moen is an optimist, and it’s easy to see why. His grandfather, Gilbert H. Moen, started the G.H. Moen construction company during the Great Depression. That is supremely optimistic.

Such a bold decision may not work for everyone, but the years have been good to this Yakima-based general contractor, founded in 1933 as Gilbert H. Moen Co. It is one of Washington’s oldest construction firms, and its projects include:

Construction in Yakima County

Construction activity and job growth are strong in Yakima County, with an increasing number of projects requiring more skilled workers.

Year over year, Yakima County’s construction industry either stabilized or added jobs from May 2017 through October 2018, according to the Yakima County Profile prepared by Don Meseck, regional labor economist, for the Employment Security Department of Washington State.

In 2018, the latest full-year data available, the construction sector in Yakima County had an average of 3,838 construction jobs in Yakima County, according to preliminary figures from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, which is based on employer payroll records.

Total wages paid in 2018 were $184.4 million. That figure is also still preliminary as data continues to come in.

Figures from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages show that is a 9.6 percent increase from the construction sector in 2017. Yakima County that year had an average of 3,503 construction jobs. That’s a modest 2.4 percent increase from 2016, but a 37 percent increase from 2011, when the number of jobs was at its lowest due to the downturn in the local real estate market. Construction jobs have increased every year since 2011.

Construction is also big business. For Yakima County in 2018, taxable retail sales in construction were $598.2 million, according to the Washington Department of Revenue. That’s second only to retail trade, with $1.99 billion.

That’s similar on the county level. According to the Yakima County Financial Review Major Revenues and Cash Flow report released in September 2018, construction makes up 24 percent of the sales and use tax contributing sources. That is second only to retail trade, at 37 percent.

— Tammy Ayer

FINANCE

Mina Worthington was CEO of the Yakima Valley Credit Union when it merged with the Catholic Credit Union in 2011. She stayed on as CEO of the new organization, Yakima-based Solarity Credit Union, which has seen its assets grow by more than 50 percent in the eight intervening years. Read more

Credit unions, which are financial institutions owned and governed as cooperatives by their members, have grown in popularity over the past 20 years, and that includes here in the Yakima Valley, where four are based.

Membership in two of them, Yakima-based Solarity Credit Union and Sunnyside-based Lower Valley Credit Union, is open to anyone who lives, works, worships or attends school in Washington state. Membership to Yakima-based CALCOE Federal Credit Union is open to anyone who lives, works, worships or attends school in Yakima County. Membership in the Union Gap-based State Highway Credit Union is limited to those who are employees or retired employees of the state departments of Transportation, Licensing, Ecology or Labor & Industries; Washington State Patrol; city of Union Gap; Union Gap School District; Yakima Health District; members of the Central Washington Agricultural Museum; and affiliates, contractors and families of all of those groups. Read more

HEALTH CARE

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