MILWAUKIE, Ore. - Bob Moore, a well-known Milwaukie businessman and founder of Bob's Red Mill Natural Foods, is having a birthday.
His employees are getting the presents.
Well, one really big present, actually: the company itself.
Moore stunned his staffers, over 200 of them, with the news recently that for his birthday, he is turning the company, which had revenues of over $20 million last year and is worth in excess of $80 million, to employees who have been with the company since before last Monday.
Future hires will have to work for the company for three years to become vested.
Moore founded the natural foods company in the 1970s, when "whole foods" and "all natural" products were a fringe niche outside of the supermarket mainstream.
Over the decades, he quietly grew the business into a major regional player with over 400 products including flour, cereals, baking mixes, grains and specialized items like gluten-free and organic items for those with special diet sensitivities.
Today, natural and organic products are in high demand across the nation and the world as more consumers move away from processed foods with added chemicals and unpronounceable ingredients.
Despite the deep recession, the company has enjoyed double-digit growth year to year for the last seven years.
The business now covers 15 acres in Milwaukie, and despite the numerous employees, workers there say Bob seems to know everyone's name.
But workers told KATU News that the employee stock offering was really no surprise, coming from a man whom they say never lost sight of his values or the value of his employees.
Moore could have sold the business - he said there was no shortage of offers.
"But if I sold the company, and I could do that, then the new owners might mess that up too," he said, "so the people who have been with me all these years, and they're wonderful people... this is the right thing to do for Bob's Red Mill."
Moore is celebrating his 81st birthday.