Bob's Red Mill Founder Gives Company to Employees

bob-moore bobs red mill photo

Dough Beghtel via Seattle Times

So often we patronize companies with cute names like Burt's Bees or Toms of Maine, thinking that we are dealing with Burt and Tom, when in reality we are buying from Clorox or Colgate-Palmolive. No criticism of these big companies intended; they seem to be doing a good job. Frankly, when I took my daily dose of Bob's Red Mill flax or muesli every morning, I didn't really expect that some old guy with a beard was really behind it.

But 81 year old Bob Moore was, and he isn't selling out; he just gave it to his employees.

bobs red mill photo esop

These guys own the joint now.

Bob moved to Portland to retire in 1978 but happened to walk by an old closed mill in Oregon City. He tells the Seattle Times:

"I call it my emotional epiphany," Moore said. "Whatever excuse I care to give, I was just sucked into it like a vortex."

The company grew to where it now has 209 employees and 400 different products. It is constantly being offered buyouts, and Moore could have made a lot of money.

"In some ways I had a choice," Moore said of what he could have done with the company he founded with his wife, Charlee, in 1978. "But in my heart, I didn't. These people are far too good at their jobs for me to just sell it."

ESOPs are a form of retirement plan with substantial tax benefits 11 million Americans work in them. But gifts like this are rare; as VP Dennis Vaughn noted: "The partners could have sold this company many times for a lot more money, but to them this company is about so much more than the money."

I will feel better about my breakfast tomorrow. More at Bobs Red Mill

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