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Geneva Chamber names Business of the Year

The Geneva Area Chamber of Commerce has named Red Jacket Orchards as business of the year for 2006. Selected for its longevity, commitment to the community, and involvement in chamber activities, Red Jacket Orchards embodies the principles the Chamber seeks to recognize with this honor.“Red Jacket Orchards is a wonderful choice for “Business of the Year”. Not only do they have a great business growth story to tell, but as a family agricultural enterprise, they also represent our area perfectly. It’s a real pleasure to honor them this year,” said Rob Gladden, President and CEO of the Chamber.The orchard and juice company is managed by the second and third generation of the Nicholson family. Starting with Joe and Emily Nicholson in 1958, Red Jacket has spent nearly 50 years mastering the art and science of quality fresh fruit and juice production. They are committed to delivering product of the highest quality and flavor to their customers.“With support from the community, our staff, family members and some luck from mother nature we have been truly blessed to grow our business in Geneva for almost 50 years” said Brian Nicholson who directs sales and operations for the farm. “On behalf of my family and our dedicated staff we are honored to accept this award.”Originally planted in 1917, the Nicholsons purchased the 100 acre farm in 1958 from the Brownlee family. Today the farm boasts over 600 acres overlooking the community of Geneva and surrounding hillsides, and employs over 120 employees at peak harvest.“Most exciting for us has been the grassroots growth of our brand and its association with Geneva in the larger metropolitan marketplace. You can find our products in over 100 gourmet stores in the Metro NY region including: Wegmans, Whole Foods, Fairway, Zabar’s and on line with www.freshdirect.com.” commented Brian, “and you can find Geneva, NY on all our labels – that accounts for over 1 million impressions yearly.”Having re-invested aggressively into the farm for the past 50 years, the results of decades-long efforts and dedication seem to be paying off. The development of unique products like apricots, plums and wholesome 100% fresh fruit juices that have created excitement because they simply taste great. “The trends continue in our favor as the ‘food culture’ expands and consumers seek healthy products produced locally – the future is bright” explained Joe Nicholson Jr., President, who first planted apricots with his father in the 1970’s. “Everyone thought we were crazy. But now with 30 years of learning, we can boast to be the largest grower in the east coast. Creating a product that generates excitement and delivers superior flavor – that is fulfilling.”“Farming is a generational business that you just don’t start up overnight. The learning curve is so long and the capital costs so immense that to have continuity in knowledge and culture is critical — and that is the true success story here,” reflected Joe, who himself returned to work with his parents 34 years ago. “To have our children return to the community and our business, to come back and assume roles in their areas of expertise has propelled our success.” Average annual growth rate for the farm has been close to 20% per year.The farms products have gained national recognition through numerous awards and articles recognizing their unique products including: “Outstanding Beverage of the Year” at the Fancy Food Show NYC, Gourmet Magazine, The New York Times, Child Magazine, Time Out NY and numerous other notable publications. And major retailers now feature their products regularly.“We take so much pride in being a part of this beautiful community. We are quite literally “rooted” here and understand that the health of this community directly affects the health of our family business” said Brian Nicholson. Today Mark, Brian and Amy run the daily operations and have relocated their families back to the region they grew up in. They praise their staff for dedication to always “getting the job done with honesty and integrity” and for the sacrifice their families endure through all the long hours.The Business of the Year is the highest honor a business can receive locally. It is awarded to one business annually, and it will be presented at the Chamber’s annual dinner Friday, January 26, 2007 at Club 86. Tickets to the dinner are $50 for members and $60 for non-members. Varied size corporate tables are also available. Tickets may be purchased by calling the Chamber at 315-789-1776.

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