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SEATTLE, Wash.—The Puget Sound Business Journal has named R.D. Merrill, the parent company of Merrill Gardens and Pillar Properties, as its 2020 Family Business of the Year and will feature the company in its Jan. 17 edition.

Merrill Gardens owns and operates 33 senior communities in eight states and recently expanded its presence in China, the Journal reported. The company debuted its joint ownership venture with China Railways last October in Guiyang and it says more joint ventures will follow.

“We envision (launching) China very similarly with how we launched Merrill Gardens here in the U.S.,” R.D. Merrill President Bill Pettit told the Business Journal last June. “I don’t know that China will ultimately be any bigger … but certainly we’ll be looking for the same kind of quality characteristics in China that we have evolved here.”

The company, which was founded as a timber business in the 1890s by Richard Dwight Merrill, has branched out. According to the Journal, it still owns and manages 25,000 acres of timberland in Western Washington and British Columbia, but it operations include senior living communities and a development arm, Pillar Properties. R.D. Merrill had $281.2 million in revenue last year, including both Merrill Gardens, Pillar and the company’s other holdings.

Pillar Properties launched in 2010 to take over the development side of Merrill Gardens. Last year, Pillar partnered with Portland-area company Innovation Realty Partners to jointly develop the first phase of Sammamish Town Center. The project will redevelop the area, which was once farmland, into downtown Sammamish.

R.D. Merrill is the Business Journal’s fourth annual family business of the year. Past winners include Port Blakely, Oberto and Sabey Corp.

About Merrill Gardens

Merrill Gardens is a family-owned, private company owned by the R.D. Merrill Company. The company was founded in 1993 as developer, owner, and operator of senior living retirement communities offering independent living, assisted living and memory care.  Over the course of its history, Merrill Gardens has served over 60,000 senior residents and the company has owned or managed 120 communities in 17 states.  Currently, the company operates 33 communities in eight states (Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina and Washington) and three communities in China.  For more information visit

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