Cashing In Without Selling Out: Bob’s Red Mill

Bob Moore was speculated to be retired when he launched the most important entrepreneurial achievement of his life.

A serial entrepreneur, Moore constructed a string of enterprise ventures, together with proudly owning fuel stations within the Fifties, however a brand new path was born in 1961 when Bob and spouse, Charlee, turned captivated by a approach of consuming that was primarily based on complete meals. Sourcing these more healthy substances meant touring to specialty meals shops again then, however the two have been devoted to discovering and creating complete grain recipes for his or her household. 

“At all times at the back of my head was this thought, ‘I ponder if I may make a dwelling doing this?’” Moore says. 

To make this dream come true, the couple began a milling enterprise in 1972 in Redding, California, round large, vintage quartz stones from the nineteenth century that they used to grind grains. 

Six years later, after leaving the mill to their sons, the couple retired to Oregon, the place they deliberate to spend their golden years studying learn how to learn the Bible in its authentic Greek and Hebrew languages. 

After which Moore found an previous, deserted mill a mere mile or two from their new residence.

“I couldn’t consider it,” Moore says. “I didn’t know there was one other one on the planet. It had been sitting there, closed for 25 years, and it actually boiled right down to not having the ability to withstand it.”

Just a few months into retirement, Moore was again in enterprise and Bob’s Purple Mill was born in 1978.

Trendy milling, the traditional approach

Native information stations have been enamored with the heartfelt story of a historic mill restored, and Moore’s charismatic character and whole-grain evangelism captured client consideration. Two weeks after opening, Moore seemed out the shop window to see that the parking zone was full.

Bob’s Purple Mill was on the forefront of a cultural complete meals motion. Regionally, the corporate was thriving, however true momentum got here after main grocery chains found the entire grain merchandise at commerce reveals. Distribution contracts have been put in place, grocery shops have been wanting to inventory Moore’s distinctive merchandise and enterprise was booming. 

Then, in a single evening, after 10 years of profitable enterprise, all of it went up in flames—actually. In mere minutes, and below cowl of darkness, an arsonist destroyed the mill—what Bob and Charlee had spent a long time studying to construct and function.

“You’re considering at the back of your thoughts, ‘My complete world is burning down and what is going to I do?’” Moore says. “As with all scenario, should you’re open to proceed, there’s all the time a approach to hold going. So, we went again to work.”

Bob’s Purple Mill relocated to a bigger 20,000-square-foot constructing, then a 50,000-square-foot warehouse, as prospects like grocery chain Fred Meyer waited patiently for him to rebuild.

“We modernized all the pieces besides the mill half,” Moore says. 

The corporate continued to develop exponentially, and at present requires a mixed 800,000 sq. toes of workplace, milling and warehouse house for its operations. However the core of its processes stay reliant on the slower, vintage methodology of grinding grains on millstones that Moore discovered a long time prior. It’s a meticulous course of that churns out product slower than a extra up to date strategy, nevertheless it’s additionally a juxtaposition that displays Moore’s personal management fashion. On one hand, he has scaled a really monumental, environment friendly enterprise that radiates a calculated and strategic imaginative and prescient. And but, it’s Moore’s down-to-earth character, his jovial laughter and an old-world Biblical dedication to “doing the fitting factor” on the subject of his workers’ well-being that stay the heartbeat of Bob’s Purple Mill. 


Within the firm’s earliest days, lengthy earlier than annual revenues climbed effectively past the $100 million mark the place they reside at present, buyers from each inside and outdoors the corporate have been knocking on Moore’s door. Workers have been asking for a approach to purchase into the corporate and conglomerates needed to purchase him out, however Moore wasn’t able to relinquish management of the enterprise.

“I assumed I [still] had some fairly good concepts, and I suppose it turned out that I did,” Moore says.

As an alternative, he made the unconventional option to launch a profit-sharing program within the early 2000s. Every month, Moore divvied up a portion of his earnings amongst his then 25 workers in response to their tenure and hourly wage. 

“That to me was elementary and fundamental,” Moore says. “Yeah, I may have put the cash in my pocket. I might need even been in a position to hold my individuals, nevertheless it simply appeared like the fitting factor to do.”

It didn’t take lengthy for his workers to see a direct hyperlink between their efforts, the corporate’s backside line and their very own profit-sharing checks, however Moore needed to contain them much more. Slowly, he labored to include an Worker Inventory Possession Plan (ESOP). He couldn’t afford to do it unexpectedly, so he gave the staff one-third of the corporate at a time over the course of a decade, till Bob’s Purple Mill was a 100% employee-owned firm in 2010. Right now, all firm inventory is owned by workers, and once they depart, the corporate buys it again from them.

This employee-ownership alternative hasn’t confirmed in style amongst many rivals. It’s widespread—even anticipated—that firm founders in the identical echelon as Moore would change into terribly rich with none obligation to unfold that wealth to decrease rating members of the workers. It’s, in spite of everything, Bob’s Purple Mill. Would anybody blame him for retaining the spoils of his exhausting work and ingenuity to himself? However Moore says staying conscious of who retains an operation rising is important to its success. 

“I couldn’t do that with out 750 individuals,” Moore says, “so why ought to I take all of it?”

Reimagining retirement

At 93, Bob remains to be an energetic member of the corporate’s government staff. He involves work on daily basis, beginning with a steaming bowl of his signature metal minimize oats at his desk with long-time assistant Nancy, after which will get to work on tasks. Every day includes greeting workers, staying knowledgeable on the day before today’s gross sales numbers and assembly with the corporate’s CEO and CFO to do his share of retaining the corporate on monitor.

Retirement, he believes, is doing all of the belongings you’ve needed to do however couldn’t since you have been working. “There’s not too many issues like that in my life,” Moore says.

Moore does have pursuits exterior of the mill’s partitions, together with an train routine, a voracious studying behavior, a journey schedule and a love for enjoying the piano. All of those components, together with a lifelong love story with spouse Charlee, who handed at age 90, have allowed him to crack the code on longevity in enterprise. However whereas many individuals see retirement as their nice escape, for Moore, work is the fun he chases.

“I’ve loved all of this—the vitality, the creativity, the success,” Moore says. “Success is so candy. It actually is good.”

Greater than 4 a long time after launching Bob’s Purple Mill, that success is plain. From the skin trying in, nevertheless, it may be straightforward to marvel how his methodology—a stark distinction from so many giant operations—could possibly be so efficient. Most titans of trade hoard energy and wealth, however Moore, it appears, is actively pursuing methods to rid himself of each.

By means of the ESOP, he offers away measure of his energy and management to his workers, however that motion seems to have empowered him as a trusted chief. Multi-decade careers with Bob’s Purple Mill are widespread. 

Each month he arms over a hefty slice of his personal earnings, however that generosity has solely elevated his return. The corporate’s worth and revenues proceed to climb.

“Huge corporations swallow little corporations, and greater corporations swallow massive corporations,” Moore says. “It is a love of energy and cash and, actually, the easiest way to interrupt out of that’s to have some form of religion that you simply’ll be taken care of should you work and share success with the individuals who make it doable.”

Moore’s identify and recognizable smile now line grocery retailer cabinets around the globe. It’s another unusual strategy in enterprise that he insists is essential for leaders: refusing to cover behind the model and actually “stick his neck out,” as he describes it.

“My picture, in a way, is a approach of answering, ‘Who’s chargeable for this product?’ And there’s my image—I’m accountable,” Moore says. “I don’t understand how for much longer I’ll be personally accountable, however as of at present, I’m nonetheless accountable, and I hope you want my merchandise.”

Sarah Paulk

Sarah Paulk is a contract author identified for her interviews with the thought leaders behind multimillion- and multibillion-dollar manufacturers. Her cowl tales and have articles have appeared in Success from Residence, Direct Promoting Information, Empowering Girls and extra. Sarah can also be an writer and ghostwriter who helps her shoppers convey their recollections and analysis to life in ebook type. Join together with her at her web site

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