For five generations, Taylor Shellfish Farms has been a staple of aquaculture in the Pacific Northwest. Even as they’ve become the country’s largest farmed-shellfish producer, the Taylor family hasn’t neglected what makes them successful: the health and happiness of their workers and the coastal ecosystems they farm.
Bill Taylor and his family cultivate species unique to the Washington coast, specializing in oyster harvesting in Willapa Bay. Willapa Bay is one of the best locations in the United States for shellfish farming. With it’s unique estuary ecosystem, oysters thrive in its clean waters.
The Taylors believe that by taking care of the waters they farm and the workers that farm them, the community around it will thrive. And Pacific County is a community that has historically depended on the shellfish industry and has felt great pride in its success.
We asked Bill Taylor how he runs a successful shellfish farm in Pacific County. Here’s what he had to say:
Why did you choose to start a business in Pacific County?
There are limited places to establish a shellfish farm, but Pacific County is a very good area for shellfish. So we purchased a large farm there about 25 years ago.
How do you define success?
Creating a good work environment and having a profitable business. Through that, helping the Pacific County community by having good jobs available, so individuals can reinvest in the area and county. Safety is a major priority as well as making sure the wages are good enough for people to want to come work for you.
We have benefits for our employees, both health insurance and 401k, which is important for long-term employees. Having a good pay and benefits package is very helpful. Our work is—it’s a lot of hard work because you’re outside and on the water, so safety for us is a major area we concentrate on.
And trying to have fulfilling work that makes people want to come back and continue to work for you.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
When we send out a product that we’re proud of. And having a good team that cares about the whole process, from the growing phase to getting the product in our customers’ hands. It’s a team effort to do that.
What is unique about your business?
Shellfish farming may not be unique to Pacific County, but it is unique in many places around the world. When you go to Hong Kong or New York and you hear people talk about Willapa Bay oysters, that’s great for the company and the region. It gives us pride of place and what it comes from.
How do you view your role in the community?
I think a couple of things, back to being a good employer and being able to pay and keep a steady workforce and be safe. Again, the pride point for the community. Both providing good paying and safe jobs is important because those people will spend their business in the community and being able to reinvest in the business in that area, bringing more employment and revenue into the county.
Being a good employer. Because if you treat and pay your employees well, they’ll stick around and reinvest in the community. This will bring even more employment, more revenue, and more growth to the county. Again, it’s a pride point for the community.
If you had one piece of advice to offer someone starting a business in Pacific County, what would it be?
The county seems to be very business friendly. They’re trying to diversify employment options, so they’re open to people bringing employment to the region.
Thinking about starting a business in Pacific County? Here are some of Bill Taylor’s tips for a successful business:
- Find a niche in your community that supports your business, where your business can in turn help support the community.
- Your workers are your business: Pay them well and care about their well being.
- Put effort into every step of the process.
- Have pride in what you do and the place you live.