Last week, my family had the pleasure of visiting Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods in Milwaukie, Oregon. I have known about this place for a couple of years since I buy many of their products each month, but had never gone on a free factory tour or visited their country store. Wow, have we been missing out on this local treasure!
Bob’s Red Mill, founded by Bob and Charlee Moore in the 1978, and estimated in 2004 as a company whose revenues were in excess of $24 million dollars, specializes in hundreds of multi-grain flours, cereals and bread mix products. My son, who has been on a gluten free diet for several months, has benefitted immensely from the very extensive selection of gluten free products they distribute at several of our local markets.
What struck me on the factory tour wasn’t that Bob himself made an appearance at the morning tour, welcoming us and thanking us for supporting the company, but rather it was the story I heard retold about Bob on the tour. Last year, at Bob’s 81st birthday, Bob invited all of his 209 employees to his birthday party. At the party, he announced that instead of selling his 30-year-old company to a parent company he had decided to leave the company to all of the employees through an employee stock ownership plan. It wasn’t as if there hadn’t been offers to sell the company, in fact every week Bob received offers, but he knew that selling his company to someone likely meant that the local factory might be closed or relocated and he had grown to feel that these employees were his extended family. He wanted them to benefit from the company they had helped grow.
In truth, this wasn’t the first time that I had heard the story, it was written up in our local paper several months ago, but hearing the tour guide, a mill employee explain how this decision had effected her company was exhilarating. This was an opportunity that most employees only dream of receiving. Bob made it clear that his employees had worked hard and while he had thought about selling briefly, he realized that this opportunity was the best option to share the wealth (literally) with his employee “family”. Clearly, Bob isn’t just any boss and his employees are more than just his workers. I wish there were more businesses run by folks like Bob Moore!
To learn more about Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods or his generous gift to his employees visit their website at http://www.bobsredmill.com.