Businesses aiding in fire recovery take top honors at SEDCOR awards

A Salem excavating firm stepped up to help fight fire in the Santiam Canyon in 2020 – but they haven’t stopped there.

K&E Excavating has kept working in the canyon to aid organizations like Outward Bound to prepare land for a new home for their caretaker. That work earned them an award from Salem’s Strategic Economic Development Corporation as one of 10 businesses recognized during the annual awards ceremony held Sept. 14.

“When the fires began to smolder, K&E continued to give to their community by hauling charred waste and helping non-profit organizations recover,” their nomination form read. Along with Aumsville-based Blazer Industries, K&E won SEDCOR’s award for community service.

Erik Andersson, SEDCOR president, told Salem Reporter this year’s awards show “how generous many of these businesses are and particularly the ones we recognized for their engagement in Santiam Canyon fire recovery.”

A vegan chocolate producer and Korean food manufacturer in Salem were also recognized, along with other regional businesses in the mid-Willamette Valley. The ceremony, held at the Salem Convention Center, drew about 200 business leaders, according to a news release from SEDCOR.

The winners are:

Agri-Business of Year: GS3 Quality Seed of Monmouth, “a multi-generational, family-owned business outside of Monmouth that has led the adoption of state-of-the-art, sustainable practices, is known as well-respected representative of Willamette Valley farming,” the news release said.

Business Partner of the Year: Stayton’s Siegmund Excavation and Construction/Allied Rock, for transporting material and providing site work to aid in Santiam Canyon fire recovery

Community Service Award: Blazer Industries of Aumsville, for building and delivering sheds to wildfire survivors, and K&E Excavating of Salem for their work fighting the 2020 fires and aiding in recovery

Entrepreneur of the Year: Chomp! Chocolate of Salem, a vegan chocolate manufacturer that has rapidly expanded its operations 

Innovative Product of the Year: McMinnville-based Solid Carbon, Inc. for developing a process to transform traditional concrete into a carbon-negative building material 

Manufacturer of the Year: Shinsegae Foods of Salem, for the successful $15 million expansion of its Korean food manufacturing facility to accommodate growing demand for ready-to-eat Korean food in the U.S.

Outstanding Public/Private Partnership: Project Oasis of Newberg, a nonprofit childcare facility conceived as a public-private partnership after local businesses struggled to retain employees because of a lack of available childcare in Yamhill County

Community Leadership Award: City of Newberg, for acting quickly to aid dental equipment manufacturer DCI in finding a suitable industrial space and rezoning after a fire devastated their parts facility and head office 

100 Years of Innovation: Freres Engineered Wood of Lyons, for their work to create new products like mass plywood 

Contact reporter Rachel Alexander: [email protected] or 503-575-1241.

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Rachel Alexander is Salem Reporter’s managing editor. She joined Salem Reporter when it was founded in 2018 and covers city news, education, nonprofits and a little bit of everything else. She’s been a journalist in Oregon and Washington for a decade. Outside of work, she’s a skater and board member with Salem’s Cherry City Roller Derby and can often be found with her nose buried in a book.