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Mini-cast 128: EO Spotlight - Bob’s Red Mill

Bret Keisling celebrates Bob’s Red Mill, a 100% ESOP that just marked 10 years employee owned, including its origin, products, and an amazing visit from Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR).


Mini-cast 128 Transcript

Bret Keisling: 00:08 Welcome to the ESOP Mini-cast. Thank you so much for listening. My name is Bret Keisling and as it says on my business cards, I'm a passionate advocate for employee ownership. Today, we celebrate Bob's Red Mill on their 10th anniversary as an employee owned company. Bob's has an amazing story and I'll share more about it in just a moment.

Bret Keisling: 00:28 What caught my attention is how they celebrated their 10th anniversary. They hosted a site visit for Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon. Senator Wyden is chair of the Senate Finance Committee. Like many others. I became aware of Bob's anniversary because Senator Wyden tweeted about his visit.

Bret Keisling: 00:47 On Episode 124 of our primary EsOp Podcast, our guest was Michael Keeling who spent 30 years as the head of The ESOP Association [TEA]. In that episode, Michael shared his view that the most effective way to get the attention of elected officials is to have them visit employee owned companies.

Bret Keisling: 01:06 To be clear, Michael is still a strong supporter of TEA's congressional visits in May; after all, he spearheaded that for decades! Without taking anything away from the DC office visits, however, Michael made the point that when employee owners and advocates visit congressional offices, they were often one visit among perhaps dozens that week. And the visits are often with congressional staff rather than the elected actual Congressperson. When an elected official visits a company, we have their full attention.

Bret Keisling: 01:39 Senator Wyden has been a long-time supporter of employee ownership, and I certainly appreciate it as many others do. I can't help, but think that a site visit will put a little more spring in his step with a hands-on appreciation of what EO and ESOPs can do.

Bret Keisling: 01:55 Now let's get back to Bob's. I love their origin story and in this case, perhaps, origin stories, which you can find more on their website. By the way, we'll include links in the show transcript on our website at, where you can also find our complete archives of over 260 episodes.

Bret Keisling: 02:20 Bob Moore and his wife, Charlee met in the 1950s. It was Charlee who started them on the path to Bob's Red Mill when she started focusing on serving her family healthier food. She turned to a lot of whole grains and natural foods to do that. In 1972, Bob was managing a JCPenney auto store when he came across a book that inspired him to start Moore's Flour Mill in 1974. Moore's became successful and just a few years later, Bob and Charlee left the business to their children. And at that point, Bob intended to enter a seminary. Fate stepped in.

Bret Keisling: 02:55 At some point while enrolled the seminary, Bob and Charlee were on a walk of all things, and they came across a mill that was for sale. Bob's Red Mill was born. They opened the doors in 1978, and they've been growing and thriving ever since. In 1982, the grocery chain, Fred Meyer added dozens of Bob's products, which certainly helped their path to success.

Bret Keisling: 03:22 Every business has unintended bumps and Bob's faced a big one in 1988 when their business burned to the ground in a suspected arson. One of my team's favorite non-EO podcasts is How I Built This with Guy Raz from NPR. Bob Moore appeared in a May, 2018 episode talking all about his origin story, and we'll include a link to that in our transcript as well.

Bret Keisling: 03:46 Now let's fast forward. In 2010, Bob's became a 100% ESOP and they've been going strong ever since. Today, they have a full range of healthy products, including flours, healthy snack bars, baking aids, oats, grains, smoothies, mixes, and even a full line of paleo items.

Bret Keisling: 04:10 They have an awesome active ESOP committee that helps spread employee ownership, knowledge and enthusiasm to all of their employee owners. And I have no doubt they're an important part of Bob's amazing culture.

Bret Keisling: 04:21 Although it's worth mentioning that from what I've been able to learn about Bob's, it's clearly one of those companies that had an EO vibe and culture long before they were employee owned. One thing I always love to see is how Bob's website is filled with references to employee ownership. And be still my heart they've even incorporated employee ownership in their logo! That's a wonderful and inspiring way to proclaim that they're part of the EO sandbox.

Bret Keisling: 04:48 So congratulations to Bob Moore for the amazing company he's built and a very happy 10th anniversary to all of the employee owners at Bob's Red Mill. And a very special thank you for hosting Senator Wyden and helping to expand employee ownership by doing what you do and telling the world about it.

Bret Keisling: 05:08 I hope you'll join us next Tuesday for our primary EO/ESOP Podcast. Our country is going through a lot together right now, although the light does seem to be at the end of the tunnel. We are going to get through this, together, and that's in the best spirit of employee ownership.

Bret Keisling: 05:24 Thank you so much for listening. This is Bret Keisling; be well.

Bitsy McCann: 05:31 We'd love to hear from you! To contact us, find us on Facebook at KEISOP, LLC and on Twitter @ESOPPodcast. To reach Bret, with one "T", email, on LinkedIn at Bret Keisling, and most actively on Twitter at @EO_Bret. Again, that's one "T". This podcast has been produced by The KEISOP Group, technical assistance provided by Third Circle, Inc. and BitsyPlus Design. Original music composed by Max Keisling, archival podcast material edited and produced by Brian Keisling, and I'm Bitsy McCann.

Standard Disclaimer: The views expressed herein are my own and don't represent those of my own firms or the organizations to which I belong. Nothing in the podcast should be construed as guidance or advice of any kind in any field and the fact that I mentioned an organizational website or an advocate or a company on a podcast does not reflect an endorsement, but if you've heard your name or your group's name mentioned on this podcast, I'd love to have you come on and talk about it yourself.

A note on the transcript: This transcript was produced by Temi, an automated transcription service. While it has been reviewed by The ESOP Podcast, we can not guarantee the accuracy of the transcription. Please refer to the original audio when citing sources.


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