retail news in context, analysis with attitude

There was a remarkable story in The Oregonian about Bob Moore, founder of Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods, a $24 million company. Thirty-two years ago, Moore began building a company that reflected his “love of healthful eating and old-world technologies,” creating more than 400 kinds of stone-ground flours, cereals and bread mixes sold all overt the world.

This week, Moore turned 81. Instead of getting a gift, he gave one - he unveiled an Employee Stock Ownership Program which means that the entire business is now owned by the people who work there. In doing so, he turned his back on a steady flow of offers from people and larger companies that wanted to buy his business. (Moore isn’t quitting or retiring; he plans to keep running the business into the foreseeable future.)

The paper writes that “Moore said he began thinking about succession about nine years ago. He'd heard about employee-stock-option programs and got much more serious about the idea three years ago ... 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.”
KC's View:
I know this is an isolated incident, and one should not expect to see this business model replicated with any frequency. But it is nice to see when a business leader does something that puts a tangible value on the importance of employees, creating a legacy of people and bettered lives that will persist long into the future.