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Joining the Evergreen Movement

In 2013, businessman Dave Whorton, who had spent his career in Silicon Valley as an entrepreneur and private investor, established the Tugboat Institute. The mission of this new company was clear: like its namesake, the small vessels that support massive ships through crowded harbors by guiding them past obstacles, the Tugboat Institute would encourage large, privately-owned businesses to achieve a grander sense of direction and purpose beyond simply making money.

Companies that realize this purpose and are measured against a specialized framework of ethics and profitability are named an Evergreen company by the Tugboat Institute.

Expanding the Purpose of Profitability

In the estimation of any business venture, a company and its services are often judged by two different, yet linked, criteria: value and profit. While the value of something can be largely subjective, based on the perceived positive impact it has on a group or industry, profit is measurable – it is tracked over time, a product of goals met or missed, an indication of monetary earnings.

What Evergreen businesses strive to do is change the paradigm surrounding profitability; the almighty dollar is no longer the raison d’etre of the corporation, but is instead simply a metric for seeing how Customers value what is delivered to them.

Striving for profitability, therefore, is done in service of other, more important goals. In this way, ethical companies take a major step forward in becoming something with longevity – something that has a truly positive effect on the world for generations. In other words, they become Evergreen.

The Practice of Ethical Companies

Measuring profitability is only one part of the aforementioned Evergreen framework. The Tugboat Institute has outlined seven ways in which ethical companies are structured that make them good candidates for this distinction.


A compelling reason for existing that drives everything they do.


Having the fortitude to overcome obstacles in a resilient pursuit of the purpose.

People First

Ethical companies not only comport themselves honestly in business, but look to their employees as their greatest asset — ones that should be protected and promoted.


Remaining a privately held company allows the leadership to define and achieve profitability on their own terms, and not in accordance with a board that may not hold to the driving purpose.

Paced Growth

Too much success in a short amount of time is as detrimental to the health of a corporation as not achieving it after an extended period of struggling. Evergreen companies can control their growth at a pace that will give them stability as they approach a century of operation and beyond.

Pragmatic Innovation

Risk is a crucial part of growth, but risk must be calculated and serve both profitability and purpose. Ethical companies don’t play with fire for the sake of grandstanding, but realize that constantly improving is good for their people as well as their business.


As mentioned above, Evergreen companies look at profit as the best way to calculate that all other aspects of this structure are being observed.

Savage: An Evergreen Company

Recently, the Tugboat Institute added Savage to the fraternity of Evergreen-certified companies. As we round the corner past 75 years of operation, we have strived to pursue the kind of business that helps us accomplish our purpose to enable our Customers and Partners to Feed the World, Power Our Lives, and Sustain the Planet. Aided by our wonderful Team Members around the world, we are honored to live up to that standard now and well into the future.