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8 Utah companies — 80 or older — make the Top Workplaces list

From Sweet Candy to Shriners to O.C. Tanner, these employers have been staples in the state for decades.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Ongoing development takes shape around Oquirrh Lake at Daybreak on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020.

What do a mushrooming city, a candy company and a children’s hospital have in common?

They are among eight Utah-based companies — in business 80 years or more — to make The Salt Lake Tribune’s 2020 tally of Top Workplaces.

The annual survey conducted by Energage, a Philadelphia-based research and consulting firm, often highlights the “young guns” — the leaders in software, technology and other cutting-edge fields that are products of the 21st century. But these venerable operations are due some recognition simply for their longevity and their ability to adapt and grow — and make employees happy — in an ever-changing world.

These senior employers, with their roots firmly planted in Beehive State soil, also include a nonprofit, a life insurance company, a recognition supplier, a food distributor and an accounting firm. They are listed below based on the year they were founded.

1859 • South Jordan

This surging Salt Lake County community was settled more than 160 year ago by farmers who grew alfalfa, grain and sugar beets. Officially incorporated in 1935, the city has seen its population sprout and spread ever since. Today, more than 76,000 residents, and counting, live within its 21 square miles. That’s mostly due to the continued growth of Daybreak, the city’s large master-planned community. Number of Utah employees • 353.

(Al Hartmann | The Salt Lake Tribune) Fresh cinnamon bears enter the chocolate enrobing machine at Sweet Candy Co., in Salt Lake City.

1892 • Sweet Candy Co.

It ranks as one of the nation’s oldest family-owned and operated candy companies. Founded by Leon Sweet in Portland, Ore., the company moved to Salt Lake City in 1900 and is known for its saltwater taffy, jelly beans, orange sticks and, more recently, chocolate-covered cinnamon bears. Today, the third, fourth and fifth generations of the Sweet family remain actively involved in the business. Number of Utah employees • 228.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Hundreds of cars lined up at the Maverik Center in West Valley City on Friday, April 24, 2020, for the Utah Food Bank distribution.

1904 • Utah Food Bank

This nonprofit agency has been fighting hunger for more than a century. It distributed 38 million meals throughout the state in 2019, but those numbers have increased dramatically this year as thousands of Utahns, many for the first time, face food insecurity because of layoffs and other economic hardships caused by COVID-19. This year, the food bank already has expanded its mobile pantry program, hosted the state’s largest one-time emergency food distribution to 5,000 families and restructured its Kids Cafe program so it could continue to feed children when schools were shut down because of the pandemic. Number of Utah employees • 100.

(Scott Sommerdorf | The Salt Lake Tribune) In 2017, Scott Jerome, a volunteer at Shriners Hospitals for Children in Salt Lake City, transforms the wheelchair of Luis Angel Flores.

1925 • Shriners Hospital for Children

This 40-bed hospital provides specialized care to children with orthopedic conditions. Patients come from seven Western states — Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico — as well as the Mexican states of Chihuahua and Sonora. Number of Utah employees • 188.

1927 • O.C. Tanner Co.

This Salt Lake City company, which initially produced high school rings and pins, has expanded its reach and now offers recognition and service award programs to companies across the globe. This year, in response to the pandemic, it converted a portion of its manufacturing space to develop and produce face shields, ventilators and other vital medical equipment. Number of Utah employees • 1,165.

1935 • Equitable Life & Casualty Insurance

Utah’s oldest active life insurance company celebrated its 85th anniversary this year. Founded by Roderick Earl “Doc” Ross, the company has evolved adding annuities and retirement solutions to its insurance offerings. One thing that hasn’t changed in the past eight decades — the free milk and crackers that employees receive, a perk established during its Depression-era beginnings. Number of Utah employees • 196.

1939 • Nicholas & Co.

This is one of the largest independent food distributors in the Intermountain West, serving businesses — from small sandwich shops to large school cafeterias — in seven states. Founded by Nicholas Mouskondis, and currently run by the third generation of his family, the company is one of Utah’s most well-known Greek immigrant success stories. Number of Utah employees • 390.

1940 • Tanner LLC

The largest locally owned public accounting firm in Utah provides tax services, strategic planning and information security to a variety of clients. The company says it has doubled in size over the past decade and is larger than most of the national and Big Four firm offices in the market. It plans to open a second office in Lehi to serve companies along Utah’s Silicon Slopes. Number of Utah employees • 153.

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