We are the largest producer of farmed shellfish in the United States. Under the leadership of the Taylor family of Shelton, WA, our business has grown to nearly 500 employees and 11,000 acres of tidelands along the Washington coast and British Columbia. We also operate additional hatchery and nursery facilities in Hawaii and California, a shellfish distribution business in Hong Kong, and are partners growing Fiji Pearls with J. Hunter Pearls Fiji, Ltd.
It all started with our great grandfather, who tried his hand at everything from ranching with Wyatt Earp in Arizona to searching for gold in Alaska, but knew he’d found true gold when he began farming the tiny Olympia oyster in the pristine waters of Puget Sound in the 1890s. Since then, every generation of Taylors has grown up with a deep and abiding love for shellfish and for the close-knit communities and rugged landscapes of western Washington.
In the late 1960s, brothers Justin and Edwin Taylor took over the family business. Justin had a passion for shellfish, and together he and Edwin expanded the business, growing additional varieties of shellfish and acquiring more land to do so, and building Taylor Shellfish into an industry leader. In the 1980s, Justin’s three children Bill, Paul, and Janet took the reins. Today Bill and Paul, along with their brother-in-law Jeff Pearson, are the fourth generation of the family to farm shellfish in Puget Sound. Although we have been steady innovators, adopting appropriate technologies and often helping to create them, when we walk the tidelands on Totten Inlet, looking over a crop of oysters on the same farm where our family got its start, it becomes obvious that the life of a shellfish farmer has not changed that much in the past 120 years. This is still an amazing place to live and work.
In recent years, the fifth generation of Taylors has returned from college to work alongside us. Paul’s daughter Brittany manages our Little Skookum clam farm and our seed operations, and Bill’s daughter Diani has joined our public affairs team. This multi-generational closeness is captured by the Taylor logo of wood pilings roped together, which first represented the bond of brothers Justin and Edwin and their mother Florence, and today continues to symbolize the strength of our family and the tie that we will always have to the land and the water.
One thing we’ve learned over the years is that consistently producing the most delicious shellfish requires a long-term commitment to people and place. You need healthy watersheds, healthy estuaries, healthy communities, and healthy business practices. We’re proud to have had a hand in all those things, and we plan to keep it up for many more generations.