March 23, 2010

And Now We Love Bob's Red Mill Even More...

My love affair with the local whole grains natural food company Bob's Red Mill began 8 years ago with my family's decision to eat less gluten. For one who has always baked, the thought of living without chocolate chip cookies was more than I could endure.  Enter Bob's then limited array of gluten-free baking flours and the baking experiments ensued.  We quickly learned that one can only do so much with rice and tapioca flours; as "creative" as I was, my family was patient.  Over the years as we have become completely gluten-free, Bob's gluten-free product line has increased dramatically.  I am so thankful for the creative array of delicious gluten-free choices that are now available; thanks to this company the products of my gluten-free baking efforts are hard to discern from those containing gluten.  

My husband is an investment advisor and will often share information about a company's business practices that would otherwise not make it onto my radar. These tidbits will give me an insight into the soul of the company and will infuence my buying decisions.  A couple weeks ago he shared with me a heartwarming and surprising business story about Bob's Red Mill

Bob Moore founded his local stone ground whole grain milling company in 1978 after retiring to Oregon from California.  When he happened upon a closed mill site in Oregon City one fateful day, retirement suddenly forgotten, Bob founded what is now known as Bob's Red Mill.  Over the years Bob has seen his company grow to 400 products and 209 employees.

For his 81st birthday Bob did a very generous and surprising thing, he gifted the company to his employees.  He created an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) enabling all 209 employees to be rewarded for Bob's ongoing success and growth.  The best part about this story is that the company had declined many offers to sell for a very high price tag.  To Bob and his partners, the company represents much more than money. 

In Bob's words:
"It's been my dream all along to turn this company over to the employees, and to make that dream a reality is very, very special to me.  This is the ultimate way to keep this business moving forward. I get to spend every day with our many loyal and long-time employees who will now share in ownership, and it just thrills me to know they will be joined by many new faces over the years."  

I felt that it was important to share this story in hopes that it will influence my readers to show support for a local, sustainable, employee-owned company with their food dollars.  Knowing that Bob Moore's primary goals in business are empowerment of his employees and making the world a healthier place, I am truly inspired. 

Next time you are browsing the baking aisle check out some of my favorite Bob's gluten-free products:  the garbanzo-bean based GF All Purpose Baking Mix and the GF Biscuit and Baking Mix, both of which I substitute for flour in my favorite recipes;  GF Oatmeal and Golden Flaxseeds both of which, when soaked overnight, make an instant breakfast food; and the sinfully delicious GF Brownie Mix.  Click here for a listing of all of Bob's gluten-free flours