Bob Moore, Who Founded Bob’s Red Mill, Is Dead at 94

Bob Moore, Who Founded Bob’s Red Mill, Is Dead at 94

Bob Moore, the grandfatherly entrepreneur who, together with his spouse, Charlee, leveraged a picture of natural heartiness and healthful Americana to show the artisanal grain firm Bob’s Red Mill right into a $100 million-a-year enterprise, died on Saturday at his residence in Milwaukie, Ore. He was 94.

His dying was introduced by the corporate, which didn’t cite a trigger.

Founded in Milwaukie in 1978, Bob’s Red Mill grew from serving the Portland space to develop into a world natural-foods behemoth, advertising and marketing greater than 200 merchandise in additional than 70 international locations. The firm’s product line runs a whole-grain gamut, together with stone-ground sorghum flour, paleo-style muesli and entire wheat-pearl couscous, together with vitality bars and cake and soup mixes.

Over the years, the corporate profited handsomely from the nutrition-minded shift away from processed meals and grains.

“I feel that individuals who eat white flour, white rice, de-germinated corn — in different phrases, grains which have had a part of their vitamins taken away — are arising quick,” Mr. Moore stated in 2017 in an interview for an Oregon State University oral historical past. “I feel our diets, nationally, and worldwide in all probability, present the truth that we simply have allowed ourselves to be offered a invoice of products.”

Despite the corporate’s explosive development, Mr. Moore fended off quite a few provides by meals giants to purchase Bob’s Red Mill. He opted as a substitute for an worker inventory possession plan, instituted in 2010, on his 81st birthday; by April 2020, the plan had put one hundred pc of the corporate within the arms of its greater than 700 workers.

“The Bible says to do unto others as you’d have them do unto you,” Mr. Moore, an observant Christian, stated in discussing the plan in a latest interview with Portland Monthly journal.

While Bob’s Red Mill is an ensemble effort in that sense, its advertising and marketing attraction is rooted within the cult of character surrounding its hirsute founder.

Mr. Moore, identified for his trademark pink vest and white beard, continuously drew comparisons to Santa Claus. (He was additionally identified for his bolo ties and newsie caps.) His gently smiling face adorns the package deal of each one in all his firm’s merchandise, together with the tagline “To Your Good Health.”

“Everywhere I am going, individuals acknowledge me,” Mr. Moore stated within the 2017 interview, “and I all the time have any person to speak to.”

With its folksy earth-tone packaging and its heavy emphasis on pure elements, Bob’s Red Mill managed to conjure an anti-corporate, back-to-the-land ethos harking back to the Whole Earth Catalog period of the Seventies, with clear attraction to ex-hippies and coastal wellness devotees.

At the identical time, the amiable, white-haired Bob and Charlee Moore, generally seen pictured smiling in one in all their two 1931 Ford Model A roadsters, projected a small-town wholesomeness that urged a misplaced world of barbershop quartets and sarsaparilla floats that appeared completely tailor-made for the heartland.

The wholesomeness, it appears, was something however an act. And it proved a constructing block to a nine-figure powerhouse.

Robert Gene Moore was born on Feb. 15, 1929, in Portland, the elder of two kids of Ken and Doris Moore. He grew up in San Bernardino, Calif., outdoors Los Angeles, the place his father, too, had a grain-adjacent job of kinds: He drove a Wonder Bread truck.

Bob was too younger to enlist when World War II began, so he took a job in a warehouse for the May Company division retailer in Los Angeles. He was given an early style of administration at 16 when his boss promoted him to run his personal division on the retailer.

“I walked out of his workplace — I didn’t stroll out, I flew out,” he stated on the NPR podcast “How I Built This With Guy Raz.” “I used to be simply in seventh heaven.”

After a three-year stint within the Army, throughout which he helped construct bridges and roads within the Marshall Islands, he returned to Southern California and met Charlee Lu Coote. The Moores married in 1953 and began a household that would come with three boys.

Mr. Moore was nonetheless attempting to decide on a profession path when, driving down Crenshaw Boulevard in Los Angeles in the future, he noticed a “Coming Soon” signal for a brand new Mobil gasoline station. Sensing a profitable enterprise, he reached out to see if he may purchase it. The younger couple shortly offered their home to assist them scrape collectively the required $6,000.

“The pleasure of getting my very own enterprise,” he stated on the podcast, “it’s nonetheless with me.”

Within a few years, nonetheless, the couple uninterested in the Los Angeles smog and bustle. They offered the station and moved to the ski resort city of Mammoth Lakes, within the southern Sierra Nevada, the place they purchased one other gasoline station. It failed inside a 12 months.

Nearly destitute, the Moores moved to Sacramento, the place Mr. Moore took a job within the {hardware} division of a Sears division retailer.

By his mid-40s, he was managing a J.C. Penney auto store in Redding, Calif., when he wandered right into a library and ran throughout a e book known as “John Goffe’s Mill,” by George Woodbury, which chronicled the creator’s restoration of a run-down household flour mill in New Hampshire.

“It’s an enthralling story,” Mr. Moore stated within the Oregon State interview. The creator, he stated, was “educated as an archaeologist, and I’ve an curiosity in these sorts of issues myself. Biblical archaeology is one thing that has fascinated me for many of my life.”

“But above all,” he added, “when George made the assertion, after he obtained his mill going, that individuals beat a path to his door over his whole-wheat flour and cornmeal, I learn that and I believed, ‘My goodness, if I may discover some millstones and a mill someplace, I wager I may do the identical factor.’”

He did simply that. He started monitoring down outdated millstones from the nineteenth century and different needed tools, and he transformed a Quonset hut on the outskirts of city right into a mill for grinding varied strains of wheat and different grains. In 1974, he and his spouse turned his new obsession right into a household mill, which additionally employed their teenage sons.

Mr. Moore is survived by a sister, Jeannie, and his sons, Ken, Bob, Jr. and David, in addition to 9 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren. His spouse died in 2018.

Business was good, however Mr. Moore finally started feeling the tug of a lifelong dream: to be taught to learn the Bible in its unique languages, together with Hebrew and Koine Greek. He retired when he was about 50, and he and his spouse moved to Portland to pursue this course of research at a seminary.

Mr. Moore, nonetheless, quickly grew weary of the painstaking work concerned in studying historical languages. “One day we have been strolling alongside, studying vocabulary playing cards forwards and backwards, we had Greek verbs on one facet and nouns on the opposite,” he recounted on the podcast. “Much to my shock, there was a mill. It had been there a very long time. And in entrance of it was a ‘For Sale’ signal. I couldn’t imagine it.”

“I appeared within the window and I may see bucket elevators, grain cleaners, I may see all of the milling tools,” he continued. “I couldn’t imagine what I used to be taking a look at.”

When he dialed the quantity listed, the proprietor stated he was planning to tear down the mill to show the worth of the underlying land.

“I stated, ‘What are you going to do? Tear that mill down?’” Mr. Moore recalled. “I believed, ‘This is essentially the most improbable factor. I can’t imagine what is going on.’ So mainly, I purchased the factor and it modified my total life.”



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