The rich history of the land that is now home to Curry & Company’s headquarters rivals the fertility of the soils upon which the company was built. In 1884, the Oregon State Legislature approved drainage of various bodies of water so the land could be used for agricultural purposes. Among the water drained into the Willamette River was that from Lake Labish, completed by Madison Lafayette (M.L.) Jones in 1911.
The drainage, which took several years, yielded a rich black land that M.L. Jones shared with neighboring ranches and allowed for production of onions, celery and many other crops. Onions were very profitable and the celery quality was not only outstanding, but yielded 10 – 14 days earlier than other productions. Celery was the mainstay of the operation. The Jones farm, becoming known as Labish Meadows around 1920, was one of about 80 farms in the area growing crops on the lake bottom. At that time, M.L.’s son Ronald E. Jones assumed management of the farm. Of course, all work was done only with the assistance of horses; planting, hoeing, weeding and harvesting one row at a time. 100 lb burlap sacks of dried, topped onions were consolidated in Brooks, OR to be distributed to the domestic market by rail but celery was still king until about 1940. At that time, new varieties were introduced that allowed production of celery in other regions, and the additional cost of shipping eliminated the national market for celery. That is when onions dominated Labish Meadows production and Ronald Jones established Oregon Onions.
In 1967, Grant “Jim” Hunt purchased Oregon Onions, a significant player in the onion industry, and Mel Dalton moved from the Grant J. Hunt Company in the San Francisco Bay Area to become a partner in the business and manager of Oregon Onions. Hunt and Dalton worked closely with the growers who grew their high quality onions, destined primarily for Asian markets, in the black muck soils of Lake Labish. Hunt’s son-in-law, Gary Curry came into the business in 1978 to initiate diversification. Gary, born and raised in San Diego, did not have a farming background but his education (MBA, University of Oregon) and professional experience were perfect for the job. By developing partnerships with several growers, Gary diversified the business to include tomatoes, leaf lettuce and blueberries. Additionally, he spurred the company’s commitment to year round onions. Gary Curry became the sole owner of Oregon Onions in the mid-90’s, which focused on marketing and sales, while their entire product line was produced in conjunction with their grower-partners.
In 1995, Matt Curry, Gary’s son, entered the business. Though involved in the business at a young age, it was after college and working outside the family business for a while before Matt returned as a summer intern. His goal was to learn and grow within the business, and that he did! Curry, now president of this 3rd generation produce company, helped transform the company from Oregon Onions to Curry & Company, a change that took place in 2004. During his time at Curry & Company, the family business has experienced exponential growth. Sweet onions are now a year round item and they work with grower shippers in regions throughout the world. The onion program is nationwide and even features a premium onion program on red, yellow and white onions. The blueberry program has expanded from primarily a northwest only program to one that delivers nationally and imports from the southern hemisphere. The Curry & Company’s russet potato program is now year round as well and features the popular Nocatah variety. In the fall of 2010, Curry & Company added a new item to their portfolio of products, the Vidalia Sweet Carrot™. Curry is a firm believer in building a cohesive team that works together for a planned vision. This vision is not only shared among Curry & Company staff but also with customers.