Aplets & Cotlets 100th Anniversary

Cashmere’s Aplets & Cotlets

100 Years of bliss

By Gary Bégin

CASHMERE – Ask anyone in a five generation family how great-great grandpa used to love a visit to Cashmere for some Aplets & Cotlets iconic confectionary visions of blissful treats on the tongue. Happiness in the heart.

Just plain yummy at any age. NCW Media spoke with the grandson of the original founders, Greg Taylor, and hereby present the results of that talk:

NCW Media: How has the company retained its family culture over the last 100 years? 

Greg Taylor: Liberty Orchards is a family business in more than one way.  Most obviously, the company is owned today by the families of founders Mark Balaban and Armen Tertsagian, and the company has always been managed by family members – the founders, then John Chakirian and Dick Odabashian, and for the last 42 years by Greg Taylor, the grandson of founder Tertsagian.  But Liberty Orchards is also a business made up of families.  Over the past 100 years, there have been multiple members of the same family working in the business… parents and children, brothers and sisters, and cousins, all from the same family working together.  All of that contributes to the family atmosphere.  Also, the vast majority of our employees have been with the company for more than 20 years, so we know each other pretty well!

NCW: Over the last century, what has been the company's mainstay product(s)? 

GT: Aplets & Cotlets is our most famous and best selling candy brand.  But in many markets, Fruit Delights, a spin-off of Aplets, actually outsell the original brands.  And Orchard Bars, our healthy snack bar, have become a popular alternative to our traditional candies.

NCW: You are CEO/President, are there any other family involved currently? 

GT: Yes, I’m the company President and the operating head of the business, though most of the work of the business is done by a capable group of dedicated, hard-working employees.  As the grandson of founder Armen Tertsagian, I am part of the family and an owner of the company, along with my brother and cousins.  I am the only family member working in the company, although a few of my cousins actively serve on our Board of Directors.

NCW: Have sales gone up during the pandemic due to more internet sales? 

GT: The pandemic has been a mixed bag for the company.  We’ve taken all the standard precautions, like mask wearing and distancing, and have been fortunate that very few employees have been infected by the virus, and we’ve been able to continue operations uninterrupted.  Our sales are about the same as a year ago, with two exceptions.  Our factory store and tour in Cashmere is down by 50%, as tourism in our area has fallen dramatically.  We actually closed our store for about a month after having three visitors and .75 cents in sales on the last day of March!  Fortunately, the lost sales in the store have been more than made up by a 50% increase in online sales at LibertyOrchards.com.  We are not alone.  Most direct-to-consumer business have thrived during the pandemic as consumers have made fewer trips to retail stores and switched their purchasing to online stores.

NCW: What percentage of your online sales are out of state? 

GT: 90% of our online sales originate outside of Washington State.  Our biggest online markets are the biggest retail markets in the country… California, Texas, Florida, New York, Illinois, etc.

NCW: What else would you like our readers to know?

GT: After 100 years, the founding families have decided to sell the company. The pandemic has made it a difficult time to sell a business, but there continues to be interest in the company.

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