Last Bite - Pioneer of exports to Europe
Charles Simons took advantage of excess shipping capacity after World War I.
The firm of Simons, Shuttleworth, and French Company, Inc., was one of the first to specialize in exporting apples from the Pacific Northwest to England and the European continent.
The company was organized under the laws of the State of New York in 1907 and formally incorporated in 1908. The company was the successor to two earlier produce firms, the Wagner M. French Company and the Simons Shuttleworth Company. The newly merged firm was owned by Simon and Company, Ltd., of Southampton, and Simon, Shuttleworth, and Company of Liverpool, both in England. North American offices were in Montreal, Canada, as well as New York. Wayne French, secretary–treasurer of the merged firm, was also the treasurer of the International Apple Shippers Association.
In 1919, Charles M. Simons of the firm’s home office in England decided that the time had arrived for Pacific Northwest apples and pears to be shipped overseas in refrigerated ships traveling directly from the West Coast of the United States through the Panama Canal to England. Simons was traveling in California and the Pacific Northwest that year, saw the quality of the fruit, and hoped to take advantage of excess shipping capacity resulting from the end of World War I. Simons negotiated with the U.S. government to secure a dozen ships with refrigeration capacity on board.
These ships were then still under the control of the American Shipping Board (a holdover agency from World War I), and each had
the ability for the long sea voyage down the West Coast and across the Atlantic Ocean. Simons was affiliated with several of the largest apple and pear marketing firms in the British Isles, and he came to believe that the future of the Pacific Northwest fruit industry depended upon marketing in Europe—and the business would help his firm as well.
Simons stated: “The apple tonnage for export in the Northwest will be so large by 1921 that it would provide a highly profitable business for refrigerated ships…a quicker method than railroading to the East and then packing ships for Europe. Fruits will arrive in much better condition and with lower transportation charges overall.”
Simons’s plan was implemented. By 1929, apple shippers lists show Simons, Shuttleworth, and French Company of New York City, Sacramento, Seattle, and Yakima, shipping fruit under the Silver Crest, Gold Crest, and National Park label brands. A 1930 advertisement asserted that the company was the “…European receiver of American fruits…” with “…agencies and representatives in every important European market.”
In July 1930, the company changed its name to just Simon and French Company, Inc., with offices, packing and shipping facilities,
and buying stations throughout the American West, including those in Yakima, Seattle, Medford, Portland, and Sacramento. Supplies of fruit were purchased directly from the growers, packed on the company’s own packing lines, and transported by the company to the markets in Europe as well as the Far East. During the 1930s, almost one–third of the Northwest apple crop was exported to Europe through such important parts of the distribution chain as Simon and French, Inc. This firm remained in business until 1947, when it was consolidated with the F.M. Small Company of Sacramento.