Ralph Sundquist was able to grow his business during the Great Depression by investing wisely and by using innovative marketing. The Surety box label was used for exported fruit while the Sundquist Apples label was used on premium fruit. The Vita-Rich br
Sundquist Fruit & Cold Storage originated in 1922, when Ralph Sundquist agreed to manage an investor-owned fruit-growing operation in the lower Naches area of the Upper Yakima Valley in Washington State.
The company, known as Sunnyslope Orchard Tracts, was deeply in debt, but most of the liabilities were investor claims. Sundquist was able, over the years, to pay off the investors and acquire sole ownership of the land and was able to purchase additional acreage on which he planted trees. By the late 1920s, Sundquist had a goodly number of fruit-bearing trees and was able to take advantage of the reasonably good prices.
During the Great Depression, Sundquist rented facilities in Selah to embark upon an apple packing and selling enterprise to eliminate the cost of a middleman in getting his fruit to market.
In 1935, he had an opportunity, supported by a willing banker, to purchase a cold storage and packing plant on Yakima’s “produce row.” Because of the severely depressed economy, orchard acreage was available throughout the Yakima Valley at very low prices. Although already deeply in debt, Sundquist took advantage of the conditions and purchased a number of fairly large orchards. This increased production and necessitated the expansion of his packing and storage facilities.
Sundquist had amazing foresight as well as an understanding of the importance of labels in the marketing of his ever-growing output of fruit. Most of the labels included the trademarked phrase, “From The Tree To The Trade” or “From Tree To Trade” to emphasize the vertical integration of the Sundquist enterprise and the fact that control of the entire growing and packing operations afforded superior and more consistent quality.
In 1950, Ralph’s son Marvin joined the business. Orchard acreage subsequently doubled, and controlled atmospheric storage was built.
During the 1960s and 1970s, Marvin’s three sons, Steve, Curtis, and Craig, joined the business. Ralph died in 1977. A new packing and storage plant was built adjacent to the Terrace Heights orchards in 1979 and 1980. This encouraged the company to plant additional orchards in Terrace Heights during the 1980s and 1990s.
In 2007, acreage in the Columbia Basin north of Pasco was acquired and planted in apples and cherries. Almost all the older orchards have been removed and replanted during the past fifteen years. Today, Sundquist Fruit & Cold Storage remains a family-owned business with two members of the fourth generation joining the operation in 2008.