Kent entrepreneur Oberto still fit, active and sharp at 85

Art Oberto enjoyed cake and friends at last week
Art Oberto enjoyed cake and friends at last week's work site.
— image credit: Mark Klaas/Kent Reporter

Charismatic and philosophic Art Oberto celebrated his 85th birthday last week the way he tries to live each day.

On the go.

The family's patriarch and beloved entrepreneur of Kent's snack sausage-making giant joined his Oh Boy! Oberto Brands' employees and community volunteers on Aug. 22 to help rebuild a home for a local family in need.

Oberto wielded a hammer and nail between a break for cake and storytelling.

"I can do everything I used to do, but not as well," Oberto admitted. "I'm still up, getting around, and that's half the battle."

Oberto and the volunteer work force are helping Habitat for Humanity restore several homes in Federal Way. It is the company's way of giving back to the community, an important gesture in Oberto's eyes.

"Help others succeed ... and be humble," he said. "Besides ... I'm never satisfied. If I were, I'd be six feet under.

"You've got to be continuously, constructively dissatisfied."

Such an approach has kept Oberto firmly grounded, active and moving ahead.

Oberto took the helm of the company at 16, following the death of his father. With perseverance and determination, Oberto grew the company from a fledgling family business in Pike Place Market into what it is today, the nation's second-largest meat snack provider.

When he isn't around his business, Oberto is giving back to the community that always has supported him.

Oberto organized his company's involvement with Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit, ecumenical Christian housing organization that works in partnership with volunteers and supporters to build decent, affordable homes for needy families.

"I'm still a kid at heart," Oberto said. "I never had a job in my life because I was self-employed. ... I'm more philosophic and a builder than I am a businessman and sausage maker.

"You have to keep an eye on the big picture."

Company CEO Tom Ennis and employees were more than willing to work alongside the company's leading man for a good cause."

"It's fun," Ennis said. "We're a team. It's is part of the company's culture. We're here as a team."

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