In 1970 mechancial engineer Robert Moore and his wife moved to Milwaukie, Oregon with the intent of retiring, studying the bible, and living a more spiritual life. Like many other people at the time, they explored healthier foods and Bob got interested in stone-ground grains. Interested enough that he set up his own little mill. You know, just as a hobby.
Thirty years later Bob's Red Mill is a leader in stone ground flours, cereals, and, overall, over 400 hundred products. All created and sold by a little over 200 employees and still, despite considerable setbacks, in MIlwaukie, Oregon. Estimates suggest that his little post-retirement project may now be worth something like fifty million dollars.
Well, yesterday was Bob's birthday and he made an amazing announcement. He's giving the company to his employees. He's setting up an employee stock ownership plan and everybody who has been there three years or more is fully vested as of today.
It would appear that it's not just at software companies that a normal, hardworking person can take and hold a normal, everyday job and wake up one day with stock worth more than their house.
Milwaukie City Councillor Susan Stone said, "What a wonderful 81st birthday present from Bob to his loyal employees! Bob is one of the good guys! I think it's a smashing idea!"
I couldn't agree more.
Like fellow Milwaukie company, Dark Horse Comics, Bob's Red Mill has made honest products they can be proud of, stuck to their plan, and never tried to get by with copying what the megacorps told us was what we wanted, and as a result have persisted, thrived, and made a better world for all of us.
Here's to Bob. Here's to his employees. And here's to Milwaukie, Oregon for fostering yet again a company that we can all be proud of.