Wardens – 49 Years of Success
Longtime family-owned and operated companies are part of the heart and soul of Modesto, providing stable jobs for residents, contributing to the local economy and supporting other businesses and organizations that enhance our community.
And there are few family-owned companies with the name recognition—or the legacy of local support—that Modesto-based Warden’s Office enjoys.
Warden’s local success story began in 1965 when Jerry Warden borrowed money from his parents so that he and his brother-in-law could embark on a business of selling and delivering office products to local businesses. It wasn’t easy. Jerry was a California State University Stanislaus student and had a wife nine months pregnant with their first daughter.
He made time for sales calls for Warden’s between classes and sold Tupperware at night to make ends meet. But from the very beginning, Warden stayed focused on delivering the personalized customer service that has become one of the many Warden’s trademarks.
Warden’s Office has come a long way from those lean times, growing to the largest independently owned office products dealership in the Central Valley. The business is still led by Warden as chief executive officer, along with his daughter Jennifer Warden Viss as chief operating officer and Joe Cunningham as president for the firm’s two locations in Modesto. From its two locations in Modesto, the company offers a huge selection of office supplies and new and used office furniture as well as a wide range of services including managed print services and relocation. Even after all of these years, the business is still focused tightly on delivering on its relationships, whether to long time clients or to other local businesses.
Supporting the local community is in the company’s DNA, says Jerry Warden. “We purchase locally, we support worthy causes in the community and we provide a service level that is second to none.”
“Warden’s thrives because of our relationships with our customers and the local community,” says Jennifer Warden Viss. “Our business is about the personal touch. We strive to provide the best possible service to our customers whether it be in delivering supplies; delivering, installing, or moving office furniture; taking orders; or space planning and designing services.”
“Warden’s supports other local businesses whenever possible,” Viss adds, indicating that Warden’s long history of cooperation with other local business (Banking, Insurance, Finances, Advertising, Printing, Accounting) has helped the Modesto community flourish, even during hard times.
“When businesses support one another, growth is perpetuated in the community,” says Viss.
Warden’s Office is a strong supporter of local organizations and activities including Sierra Vista Child and Family Services, Pacific Southwest Container’s Snowflake Event, Boyett Petroleum’s Make Dreams Real Fund, City of Hope, Emmanuel Medical Center’s Festival of Trees, Haven Women’s Center, Dale Carnegie Training and Modesto’s own chamber led Leadership Modesto Program.
A History of Community Support
Warden’s isn’t the only business to have found success in strong ties to the local community.
Slater’s Home Furnishings is a family operation that traces its roots back to 1912. Today, Slater’s showrooms in Modesto and Merced offer the largest selection of fine furnishings, accessories and décor in the Central Valley, and the business is run in partnership by the founder’s grandsons, Tom and Ed Slater, and their brother-in-law, Dennis McKim.
Slater’s is a longtime supporter of local organizations including Community Hospice, United Way, Townsend Opera Players, State Theater, Gallo Center for the Arts and Children’s Crisis Center, among others.
“As a family business we work hard together to continue what we have learned about our industry and to provide the local area with great home furnishings choices,” says Tom Slater.
Crystal Creamery is one of the oldest family-owned business in the area, as well as one of the largest at more than 400 local workers. According to Frank Otis, president and CEO of Crystal Creamery, “The community provides us with a stable and dedicated workforce with most of our employees staying with us for 20 years or more,”
Crystal joined the Foster family of companies in 2007 and continues to be privately owned by the Foster family, who founded Foster Dairy in 1941. “The Foster family has supported the community for more than seven decades, and the community reciprocates in their patronage of the products we make and by providing good services for the business,” Otis adds.
“Our community has been amazingly supportive for decades,” says Jonathan Sciabica, vice president. “I remember being fearful that people would stop using our olive oil during the 2008 economic recession. Instead, we found that many of our customers actually used more olive oil. That is a true testament to our community’s dedication to local products.”
Nicola Sciabica and his son Joseph began cold pressing olive oil in 1936 and today the company is operated by Nicola’s grandsons, Nick and Daniel, and great-grandson, Jonathan. The family is a dedicated supporter of many local causes including St. Stanislaus Church and the annual Memorial Hospital and Children’s Crisis Center golf tournaments. “You’ve got a good chance of bidding on a gift pack donated by Sciabica’s at nearly every charity auction in the area,” Jonathan Sciabica notes.
Giving back to the community can also come with the pride of customer service, as it has throughout Gowans Printing Company’s 95 year history.
“As a family-run business we have a lot of pride in our products and we make sure all of our customers leave here happy,” says Bruce Gowans, whose grandfather founded the business and who currently operates it in partnership with his cousin, Terry Gowans.
“Terry and I were born and raised in Modesto and we love our town,” Bruce Gowans says. “We are grateful for the support that the people in Modesto have given us all these years.”
The business gives back by supporting the “Make Dreams Real” fund created by Carol and Carl Boyett as well as 4-H clubs and other local organizations, charities and fundraisers.
For information about the businesses featured in this article, visit:
Warden’s Office — www.wardensworks.com
Slater’s Home Furnishings — www.slatershome.com
Crystal Creamery — www.crystalcreamery.com
Sciabica’s California Olive Oil — www.sunshineinabottle.com
Gowans Printing Company — www.gowansprintingcompany.com