Bob’s Red Mill Owner Avoids Selling Out to Fast Food Giant, Transfers Ownership to His 700 Employees

Bob's Red Mills owner Bob Moore.


Bob’s Red Mill is one of the most well known and trusted brand names among natural and organic food purchasers, makers of aluminum-free baking soda, organic rolled oats and other high profile products.

The company, founded in 1978, sells in 70 countries and rakes in over $100 million annually in product sales. In February 2024, the company’s founder, Bob Moore, died of natural causes “peacefully in his home,” according to a report from

Moore’s death led to a frenzy of corporate activity that ultimately culminated in a unique ownership transfer that continued to make headlines weeks afterward. His stance on passing down ownership to his employees will likely be studied for months and years to come, and is being seen as a shining example for others.

According to a report from Business InsiderMoore had the opportunity to sell out to a fast food giant — but instead decided to transfer ownership to his employees, more than 700 of them.

“Bob’s passion, ingenuity and respect for others will forever inspire the employee owners of Bob’s Red Mill, and we will carry on his legacy by bringing wholesome foods to people around the world,” the company said in a statement on Instagram. Moore was 94 years old at the time of his death.

“We will truly miss his energy and larger-than-life personality.”


Bob’s Red Mill’s Humble Beginnings

Moore founded the company with his wife Charlee in Oregon in 1978. Decades afterward, Bob’s Red Mill stood as a beacon for independent organic and natural food focused, whole grain products as it evolved into a global empire with over 200 products in its repertoire.

The Bob’s Red Mill founder’s stated goal was to provide wholesome food to the world and financial security to the company’s employees. Moore’s company’s success drew interest from large corporations — corporations that many feared would dilute the company’s original mission.

“As the company grew and became more successful, Bob found himself fending off one offer after another,” the company said on its website, adding that Moore would have profited handsomely by selling his company.

Instead, Moore stayed true to his original mission.

After “succeeding beyond his wildest dreams,” Moore created an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), to distribute stock options in the company to people that worked there, effectively transferring ownership and keeping it all in-house.

As of April 2020, the venerable Bob’s Red Mill company, originally found in health food stores and now in grocery stores worldwide, could proudly assert that it was 100% employee-owned.


Bob’s Employee-Focused Plan is a Total Rarity

Mr. Moore’s generous ownership dispersal plan is a rarity in corporate America according to the National Center for Employee Ownershipas only about 6,533 companies in the United States used the ESOP style of ownership as of 2021.

In 2023 Moore, a Christian, evoked Biblical teachings in an interview with Portland Monthly

“The Bible says to do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” Moore said. “And so there’s an element of how you treat people that impressed me. And sharing in the profit, sharing in the company to make things more fair and more benevolent impressed me, and I felt strongly about it.”

Moore started out by giving employees a percentage of the profits and later moved on to the aforementioned model. He first transferred one-third of ownership to employees then continued giving the additional two-thirds away in two separate decisions.

“The more everyone organizes and works hard, the greater the profitability of the company, and that translates into higher value of ownership,” Moore said to Portland Monthly. 

Moore called executive greed the reason for labor shortages in 2022, stating that he believed more companies should adopt the ESPO model according to Fortune magazine.

According to Moore, Bob’s Red Mill employees feel valued and informed, a result that other companies could learn from.

Bob’s Red Mill is based in Milwaukie, Oregon and has 13 mills making gluten-free products. Moore’s smiling face adorns the packages of each product.

“Businesspeople continually reach out to me, interested in buying my company, like they’re doing me a great favor,” Moore told the outlet, adding, “They thought I was just a lame-brained idiot because I didn’t want to sell my company. They told me how stupid I was, but you can’t build what I’ve built and be really stupid.”

Bob’s Red Mill CEO Trey Winthrop shared a statement about the late founder’s commitment to his company and its hundreds of employees.


“Bob’s legacy will live on forever in all of us who had the opportunity to work with him and is infused into the Bob’s Red Mill brand,” Winthrop said in a statement. “He did everything in his power to leave us on a strong path forward. All of us feel responsible and motivated to preserve his old-world approach to unprocessed foods; his commitment to pure, high-quality ingredients; and his generosity to employee owners and educational organizations focused on nutritional health.

Moore is survived by sons David, Bob Jr., and Ken, as well as his daughters-in-law Dora, Ashleigh, Terry, Barbara, nine grandchildren and six great grandchildren.

His decision to allow his employees to share in the generational wealth he built is still felt and will continue to be felt years after his death. Moore had the opportunity to sell out, but chose not to despite intense pressure from outside forces.

“Businesspeople continually reach out to me, interested in buying my company, like they’re doing me a great favor,” Moore said to Fortune magazine.

“They thought I was just a lame-brained idiot because I didn’t want to sell my company. They told me how stupid I was, but you can’t build what I’ve built and be really stupid.”


Thank you for reading! If you’d like to support Bob’s Red Mill’s humble employee-focused mission, you may purchase their products online including organic rolled oats and baking soda





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About Nick Meyer

Nick Meyer is a journalist who's been published in the Detroit Free Press, Dallas Morning News and several other outlets. He founded AltHealthWORKS in 2012 to showcase extraordinary stories of healing and the power of organic living, stories the mainstream media always seemed to miss. Check out Nick's Amazon best-seller 'Dirt Cheap Organic: 101 Tips For Going Organic on a Budget' by clicking here, as well as its sequel Dirt Cheap Weight Loss.

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