Generational Business in Kitsap: Nurturing Legacy and Growth

Generational Business in Kitsap:  Nurturing Legacy and Growth Main Photo

17 Aug 2023


In the heart of Kitsap, Washington, a family-based engineering business stands as a testament to the enduring impact of generational businesses on economic development. Art Anderson, a multidisciplinary engineering services firm deeply rooted in the region, has witnessed the ebb and flow of economic changes, adapting to the shifting landscape while upholding its legacy for over six decades. In an exclusive interview with Melissa Anderson, Chief Operating Officer, we delve into the intricate interplay between generational businesses and economic development, their challenges and opportunities, and their role in fostering growth within their community.

At the Crossroads of Tradition and Progress

Economic development is intricately linked with the existence of generational businesses. The Anderson family, stewards of Art Anderson, acknowledges the profound influence of the Kitsap region's economic evolution on their operations. The company's journey, spanning over six decades, has been marked by a dynamic blend of tradition and progress. "Being a generational business in a changing economic landscape brings advantages and challenges," Melissa Anderson notes.

Art Anderson's corporate values and commitment to Kitsap have created deep-rooted community trust and are a cornerstone of the firm's success. Melissa Anderson reflects, "Our long-standing presence and history instill customer trust and loyalty. We also have valuable institutional knowledge and established networks in our community."

Yet, as with any generational business, challenges arise. Adapting to new market dynamics, technological advancements, and evolving customer preferences requires an unwavering commitment to flexibility, innovation, and embracing change. "Some of our challenges include adapting to new market dynamics, technological advancements, and evolving customer preferences. These require flexibility, innovation, and a willingness to embrace change," adds Anderson.

Government spending is an important part of the business at Art Anderson. “As a firm very reliant on government contracts, we ebb and flow with the spending of our local municipalities, state, and federal government. As a small business, this can be very challenging. In this regard, the Kitsap Economic Development Alliance has done a great job working with our PTAC (Procurement Technical Assistance Center) and government small business deputies to provide forecasting for upcoming projects. They have also been instrumental in connecting small and large businesses so that both can succeed,” Melissa says. 

The Role of Art Anderson in Kitsap's Economy

Art Anderson's role in the local economy of Kitsap goes beyond engineering and innovation. As a business that employs approximately 32 people locally and collaborates with subcontractors, the company plays a pivotal role in fostering economic growth and job creation. Moreover, their engagement with retired individuals, often from the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, highlights their commitment to community and intergenerational collaboration.

The company's contribution extends beyond its workforce. “Small businesses bring growth and innovation to local communities. Art Anderson is no different,” says Melissa. “We participate in Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) projects for the U.S. Navy, Broad Area Announcements (BAA) for the Department of Energy, and recently submitted a proposal through the Department of Commerce for a project using Green Hydrogen.” Melissa Anderson states. “We also collaborate with Olympic College and Washington State University on many of these projects.” 

Balancing Family Legacy and Business Success

Running a generational business presents unique challenges, especially regarding the delicate balance between family relationships and business demands. The Anderson family attributes their success to open communication and a strong foundation of trust. In a family-owned business like Art Anderson, where every employee is considered an extension of the family, fostering these relationships becomes paramount.

Art Anderson's core values—Do what inspires you, Be innovative, Deliver what we promise, Invest in relationships and partnerships, Love where you work and what you do—guide the company's decision-making processes. These values, honed and enriched over generations, underscore the commitment of the Anderson family to uphold their legacy while steering the company toward long-term success.

The legacy of Art Anderson stands as a beacon of generational businesses' power to drive economic development. Their journey is a testament to the enduring fusion of tradition and progress, family bonds and business innovation, and their irreplaceable role in shaping local economies' vibrant tapestry.

Kitsap EDA aims to facilitate healthy economic growth and investments that support livable, resilient communities fueled by innovation and Kitsap's diverse people and businesses. Find out more about how your local business can grow and prosper at