Charlie Bishop enjoys looking out his office window, to see people walk, run and bicycle through the pedestrian tunnel located near the Pendleton Woolen Mill, in Washougal.
But Bishop, vice president of mill operations at Pendleton, does not often have time to people watch, since he walks through the 300,000 square foot mill several times a day.
Pendleton Woolen Mill has been selected as the Camas-Washougal Chamber of Commerce “Business of the Year.”
“We are certainly honored and a bit humbled to be selected as business of the year,” Bishop said. “This is a big year for us. There is a lot of history in the Camas and Washougal community.”
There are preliminary plans to celebrate the mill’s centennial in Washougal in August.
Roger Daniels, of Washougal, nominated Pendleton for the annual honor.
“It has competed in an international market making quality fabrics and clothing that are recognized for their artistic patterns, durability and high quality,” he wrote. “The Pendleton Woolen Mill and the Bishop family have also contributed to the livability of Washougal and southwest Washington.”
In his nomination letter, Daniels mentioned that Pendleton provided an easement to Washougal to make it possible to construct the pedestrian tunnel under state Route 14, to connect the downtown to the waterfront trail and Steamboat Landing Park.
Daniels also mentioned Pendleton’s donation of bicentennial blankets to descendents of William Clark who attended the dedication of Capt. William Clark Park in 2006. Blankets were also donated to Native Americans who were recognized during the 200th anniversary of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
Daniels acknowledged that Pendleton provides recreational opportunities for youth through development of the Charles Kay Bishop Field for local softball and soccer teams.
The Pendleton Mill Outlet Store donates merchandise to local nonprofit organizations.
“Most importantly, the Pendleton Woolen Mill has consistently operated day-to-day, employing a local workforce and has successfully competed with other national and international corporations,” Daniels wrote. “It has quietly worked behind the scenes to honor the unique history of our community, and it has also become an important part of our history.”
The mill, at Two Pendleton Way, employs 189. They manufacture wool textiles, for use in blankets, men’s and women’s clothing and upholstery.
“There are a lot of dedicated, hard working employees that come from the community,” Bishop said.
They include 40 employees who have worked at Pendleton for more than 25 years. Eight employees have worked at Pendleton for more than 40 years, and one employee has worked there for more than 50 years.
“That is pretty amazing to think about,” Bishop said.
The longtime employees include Finishing Supervisor Ted Prince, who has worked at the Pendleton Woolen Mill for 26 years. His mother, Mardel Peet, has worked there for more than 30 years, and his sister, Shari Morse, has been at Pendleton for 25 years.
Prince’s grandmother, Georgia Smith, retired from Pendleton after working there for 20 years.
The company was founded in Pendleton, Ore., in 1909.
Complimentary tours begin and end at the mills’ store, which sells blankets, clothing, fabric and accessories. For more information, call the store at 835-1118 or the mills at 835-2131 or visit www.pendletonmillstore.com.