In the early 1940s, Roy Webster moved to Hood River from New York City with a dream; to bring the world’s finest fruit to the nation. Along with his wife, Olive, he initiated a mail-order service that sent Webster pears and apples, or as he called them, “Oregon Gems” and “Oregon Beauties” for $7.50 a bushel. An old catalog we found boasts, “Our aim is to do everything possible to elicit expressions of genuine pleasure from your friends for the gift fruit we send them.”
In 1942, Roy and his friends first swam across the Columbia River Channel. The swim is now an annual event. At dawn on Labor Day each year, a large group of swimmers jump into the mighty Columbia River and swim the 1.1-mile stretch across to Hood River. Known as The Roy Webster Cross-Channel Swim – it is Columbia River’s biggest and oldest official swim event, attracting hundreds of participants from around the world.
Continuing the expansion of the Orchard, in 1951 our first cold storage facility was built on Van Horn Drive in Hood River. Cold storage is helpful for elongating the life of picked fruit when they are ripe. Roy then passed on the Orchard to his son, Wayne, in 1965. The pear tree orchards were expanded, including hillsides which was an innovative approach to growing at the time. Wayne and his wife, Mary, added cherry Orchards as well – increasing the acreage of fruit grown.
In 1999, the time had come for Wayne to pass on the Orchard practice to his sons, Scott and Addison. After leaving the valley to pursue their academic and professional careers, they both returned with the same vision of expanding the Webster Orchard venture. They set up shop in their Dad and Mom’s house. The early version of The Fruit Company’s office was in the basement; the first production floor got its start in the garage. It was rustic and simple, but they believed enough in the superior quality of their fruit and their combined business know-how to persevere. They wanted to make their premium fruit accessible nationwide.
As The Fruit Company grew, so did Webster Orchards, expanding to include blueberries and increased acreage of cherries and pears. In 2001, a large opportunity came knocking when the old Diamond Fruit packing warehouse went up for sale. The building was perfect— 161,000 square feet of an original timber building from their grandfather’s era, nestled amongst the valley’s orchards and hills. From the front door you can see Mt. Hood framed by pear trees, and from the roof you have an excellent vantage of the valley and Washington’s statuesque Mt. Adams. Scott and Addison thusly moved The Fruit Company to 2900 Van Horn Drive, and the rest is fruitful history
The Fruit Company has had incredible growth since those first days in Mr. and Mrs. Webster’s basement. Today The Fruit Company does much of its business through online orders, compared to their grandfather’s first mail-order catalog. While receiving outstanding attention from Oprah Winfrey’s “O” Magazine and the top consumer reporting magazine, The Fruit Company is also one of the top 15 growing companies in Oregon and part of Internet Retailer’s Top 50 “Best of the Web.” Scott acts as President and CEO of The Fruit Company and Webster Orchards, which still provides much of the fruit going into The Fruit Company’s gourmet gift baskets, towers, and boxes. TheFruitCompany.com believes in innovation, sustainability and excellence. We look forward to offering you high-end fruit and gourmet gifts for all your special occasions. You can learn more about us here.