PARMA, ID — Most people and other life forms slow down after 100 years, but J.C. Watson Co. of Parma, ID, only gains momentum as it looks to its century anniversary in 2012.
In fact, this leading grower-shipper of Treasure Valley Spanish Sweets is celebrating its longevity with corporate expansion, new packaging and labels and continued vigilance in its food safety protocol.
Brad Watson, vice president of operations and the fourth generation of Watson family members in the company, told The Produce News in summer 2011 that the milestone will be commemorated with fanfare that will include a new line of packaging to celebrate the century mark.
Mr. Watson said, “With the continued success of our 50-pound ‘Watson Label,’ we are looking forward to continuing that enthusiasm by introducing a 25-pound ‘Watson Label.’ “
Currently Watson packs for a number of private labels as well as in its own “Watson Brand,” “Soo Brand,” “SooRing,” “Jim’s Best,” “Trail Blazer” and “Treasure Valley” labels, and the roll-out labels will incorporate the company’s longstanding presence in the Idaho-Eastern Oregon onion-growing industry.
In the history books of Treasure Valley onions, J.C. Watson holds a place of particular prominence. Founded in 1912, the operation saw its trading member status established in 1929, and today the company is sole over-75-year-old onion shipper in the Blue Book.
Throughout the past 100 seasons, it has produced other items such as apples, but onions have long been the focal point.
In addition to its Treasure Valley Spanish Sweets, Watson also ships onions from other regions, providing year-round supplies to its customers.
In the 2011 season, J.C. Watson saw a somewhat later start to its shipping season, but its growing and irrigation techniques — aided by good weather in the summer — brought about trademark superiority in product. Jon Watson, company president, said healthy onions plants were given a boost by J.C. Watson’s drip irrigation.
In an ongoing program of improvements, J.C. Watson has kept pace with technological advancements to maintain the superiority edge. In 2010 the packingshed installed a new color sorter with high-resolution camera. It also increased accuracy on the Aweta line, and it put in a semi-automatic bagger that provides 50- and 25-pound sacks as well as 3-, 5- and 10-pound consumer bags.
For the 2011-12 shipping season, the shed has added a new carton filler that will “increase our carton capacity as well as increase our curing process to allow us to dry onions quicker and deliver earlier in our season,” Brad Watson said.
Well-positioned in the domestic market, J.C. Watson is making inroads with foreign markets — sharing the “All-American Winners” quality and service with consumers in other countries.
Sales Manager Kent Sutherland said, “We have seen an increase in our consumer pack orders as well [domestically] as strong growth in our export category.”