Port’s D.D. Williamson celebrates 150th year with $15,000 donation
It is customary for the guests of honor at an anniversary party to be showered with gifts, but the tables were turned last Saturday in Port Washington.
D.D. Williamson, an international food color specialist with production facilities on Sunset Road in Port Washington, celebrated 150 years in business with a drizzly local gathering on Port’s lakefront.
However, the highlight of the festivities came when company officials presented a $15,000 check to Portal Inc.
The Grafton job training facility provides occupational and recreational opportunities for Ozaukee County residents with physical and developmental disabilities.
According to Portal Inc. Executive Director Carole Stuebe, part of the money will be used to purchase a new glass kiln for the organization’s Art Applause program. Some of the money will also go toward the purchase of a new van.
Although Portal Inc. has subcontract work agreements with a number of local employers, D.D. Williamson is not a corporate client.
That made the donation completely unexpected, Stuebe said, but fitting.
“D.D. Williamson is known for its production of all-natural food coloring, which fits in perfectly with the colors we share in our Art Applause program,” she said.
The program introduces clients to art as a channel for relaxation and creativity. Some of the resulting collaborative artwork has been sold as a money-maker for Portal Inc.
During Saturday’s festivities, D.D. Williamson CEO Ted Nixon and his father, retired company CEO Gouverneur “Bo” Nixon, were presented with an original piece of art created as an Art Applause project.
The Louisville, Ky.-based D.D. Williamson has 10 production facilities around the globe, and the employees at each of those plants chose which non-profit cause would receive matching $15,000 gifts as part of the company’s anniversary festivities.
In addition to its home offices and Port location, D.D. Williamson has production facilities in Ireland, the United Kingdom, Brazil, China and Swaziland.
The Port plant opened in 2005.
“Our Port Washington employees chose Portal Inc.,” noted Christy Decker, D.D. Williamson’s human resources director for North America.
“Our owners, CEO Ted Nixon and his family, are always very charitable. They and the company donate to all sorts of charities and each location is involved in charitable work ‘on the clock’ within our local communities.”
Portal Inc. officials were told they would be receiving a corporate donation at the anniversary party, but were not told how much the gift would be until the day of the gathering.
“When they first called us, they asked us what we would do with the donation. We said ‘There are a lot of things we need,’ and provided them with a list of items and costs,” Stuebe said.
In a way, the donation came as an anniversary gift to Portal Inc. as well, since it is celebrating its 50th year in operation this year.
“We are doing things throughout the year to mark our anniversary,” Stuebe said.
According to the company’s website, D.D. Williamson was founded in 1865 by Dutch immigrant Douw Ditmars Williamson in New York to produce burnt sugars for the brewing industry.
It has become one of the largest producers of caramel and natural colorings in the world. The coloring is used in such products as soft drinks, sauces, baked goods, beer, cheese and confections.
The company’s mission, according to its website, “is to enhance the visual appeal of food and beverages.”
D.D. Williamson — which uses the tag line The Color House — moved its corporate offices from Long Island, N.Y., to Kentucky in 1970.
In June of this year, Elaine Gravatte was named the company’s president and chief operating officer.
Gravatte was on hand Saturday with the Nixons for the Port celebration and gift presentation.
Image information: OFFICIALS AND EMPLOYEES at D.D. Williamson celebrated the company’s 150th anniversary Saturday with a $15,000 donation to Portal Inc. of Grafton. Taking part in the Port Washington presentation, which was made during a company picnic, were (from left) Kari Dombrowski, Steve Pericak and Marlene Morgan of Portal Inc., D.D. Williamson CEO Ted Nixon and retired D.D. Williamson CEO Bo Nixon, Portal Inc. Executive Director Carole Stuebe and D.D. Williamson President and COO Elaine Gravatte. The company’s Port Washington plant also featured a sign proclaiming its “Colorful Past, Brilliant Future” as part of the celebration. Photo by Sam Arendt