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Grossman School of Business Honors Family Businesses at 4th Annual Awards Ceremony

The Grossman School of Business honored four family businesses for excellence in the areas of entrepreneurship, innovation and sustainability at the UVM Family Business Awards on Oct. 30 in Waterman’s Memorial Lounge.

This year’s honorees, recognized for their ability to overcome challenging succession issues and for contributions to community and industry, included a winery, a maple orchard, a garnet mining company and the leading provider of digital grocery services in the country. 

“You have provided meaningful value to society and the economy, and you inspire us all,” Promodita Sharma, the Daniel Clark Sanders Chair & Professor of Family Business at the Grossman School of Business, told the honorees at an event attended by local business owners, faculty, staff and students.

The 14 family businesses that have been honored since the inception of the program four years ago have a combined workforce of 6,800 employees, $388 million in sales and 740 years of multi-generational experience. 

A six-person panel, composed of past winners, alumni, and local business owners, selected Vermont-based businesses or out-of-state businesses run by UVMs alumni based on the following criteria: financial success; governance structures; contributions to the community and industry; and innovative business practices or strategies.

1st Generation Family Enterprise Award

MyWebGrocer, launched in 1999 by UVM alumni and brothers Rich, Jerry and Brian Tarrant, was honored for its creation of a grocery eCommerce platform that allows people to order groceries online and have them delivered to their home or business. Today, the company manages digital solutions for more than 130 retailers around the world, representing more than 10,000 stores and 500 major consumer packaged goods brands. MyWebGrocer, which experienced 55 percent growth last fiscal year, employs more than 250 Vermonters, primarily in its Winooski Mill location, and another people 200 worldwide.

Multi-Generational U.S. Family Enterprise Award

Boyden Valley Winery, an award-winning producer of wines and cream liqueurs, was opened for business in 1997 on the fourth-generation Boyden family farm by David and Linda Boyden. It would become the first bonded winery in Vermont to grow grapes. The planting of winter hardy varieties allowed them to yield up to four tons per acre and release mjaor products such as their signature wine “Vermont Ice.” In 2010, Boyden became a licensed distillery to position themselves as the only company in the U.S. to specialize in craft distilled crème liqueurs. In 2013, they started producing hard cider.

Multi-Generational Global Family Enterprise Award

The Barton Group has produced the world’s highest-quality garnet abrasives for more than five generations. Founded in 1878, the company started with a mine near the summit of Gore Mountain in New York’s Adirondack Park, where it operated for 104 years. In 1982, the operations were moved to neighboring Ruby Mountain, where the company still operates today. The company started by mining and milling garnet for the sandpaper industry, but over the years developed new products, markets and applications, including its current production of garnet abrasive products for multiple applications.

Vermont Legacy Family Enterprise Award

Branon Family Maple Orchards of Fairfield, Vermont, has undergone a number of strategic changes during its seven generations of operation. In 1984, Tom and Cecile Brannon purchased a farm owned by Tom’s parents and operated a dairy herd of about 125 cows and 300 acres of pasture, sugar bush and tillable land. In 2004, with unstable milk prices and an aging milking facility, the couple decided to sell their cows and increase their organic maple production. As the business grew into one of the state’s leading organic maple producers, 18 solar trackers were added to save money and create clean and renewable energy to run the facility.

Originally published on The University of Vermont.

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