Owner of Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods gives his company to his 209 employees

“It’s the only business decision that I could make.  I don’t think there’s anybody worthy to run this company but the people who built it. I have employees with me right now that have been with me for 30 years. They just were committed to staying with me now and they’re going to own the company.”
— Bob Moore, founder of Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods

Maybe you’ve seen Bob’s Red Mill at the health aisle at your local grocery store; they produce over 400 whole grain products at their mill that sits on over 17 acres just 15 minutes outside of Portland, Oregon.  Usually when the person who built a business retires, he chooses to sell it to the highest bidder; and instead Bob Moore is handing it over to his employees over time.  What’s interesting and uplifting was how his Christian faith informed his decision to do this.

ABC shares on that here:

If making Americans healthier is his passion, encouraging good business practices and entrepreneurship is his mandate.

“There’s a lot of negative stuff going into business today,” he said. “It’s a good old basic Bible lesson — love of money is the root of all evil. And unfortunately, our entire philosophy today is get all the money you can and whatever way you can. It’s caused many corporations to bite off more than they can chew. And it causes people to do a lot of things just for money that they feel in their hearts is not the right thing to do.”

With his own company, Moore has tried to do just the opposite. In a refreshing twist to the typical tenets of corporate America, Moore thinks of his employees and customers first and foremost.

In our culture there has been a conflation of religion with the worst kind of business; this unholy merger enables cynical political candidates to denounce the poor as “takers.” So Bob Moore’s expression of a non-hypocritical Christianity is a refreshing and humbling thing to see.

The Oregonian explains a little bit about the Employee Stock Ownership Program here:

Garner said she and other employees are floored by Moore’s plan, under which any worker with at least three years tenure is now fully vested. “We’re still learning all of the details,” Garner said, “but it’s very humbling to be part of a company that cares this much about its employees.”

An employee stock ownership plan, or ESOP, is a retirement plan in which the company contributes its stock to the plan to be held in trust for the benefit of its employees. The stock is never bought or held directly.

Vested employees are sent annual reports detailing their respective stakes in the company. When those employees quit or retire, they receive in cash whatever amount they — and the company, through increased revenues, new sales and controlled costs — are due.

Mr. Moore explains how he’s in the process of divesting his business to his employees via an ESOP plan to the point where they will own it 100% outright:


Author: Father Silouan Thompson

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