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Bob Moore Oral History Interview, January 10, 2018

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00:00:00

´╗┐JD: Today is Wednesday, January 10, 2018. I am with Bob Moore for his second interview as part of the OSU 150 Oral History Project, and we're recording today at Bob's Red Mill World headquarters in Milwaukie, Oregon. And my name is Janice Dilg, the oral historian.

BM: And good morning Jan.

JD: Good morning.

BM: Welcome to my office.

JD: It's great to be back.

BM: A pleasure to be able to renew this conversation together, thank you.

JD: You bet. So last time, you ended talking about the ESOP that you created for your employees and kind of how that allowed you to be able to provide some gifts to institutions and programs that you believed in and that kind of carried out the mission of Bob's Red Mill.

BM: Well you know, it is one thing to believe in something but it's another thing to be able to actually do something about it. And the ESOP did two 00:01:00wonderful things. The ESOP is Employee Stock Ownership Plan, and at the time I had 200 employees that were all vested in the company. They had been with me for a while. So we created an ESOP, a fund, because the company was profitable enough, and it could justify buying the company itself, buying from me, since I was the owner. So that did two things. Number one, the value of the company went into the ESOP, which could be then distributed to the employees, which made them owners of the company. The other thing is, the ESOP, as separate entity, but a part of the company, bought my stock so I don't own it anymore, but I do have 00:02:00the money.

And that made it possible for me to create a real situation--something I believe in and to be able to do something about it. And I laid my money out in a kind of a sense on a table, and OSU was definitely at the very top of my list, and I think it was five million dollars. And why would we do this? What were the reasons for this? Well, obviously it's the most wonderful institution in the State of Oregon and perhaps in the world. I don't know. It has certainly been run beautifully and has been the envy of other universities and institutions. There was no question in my mind. And as I got acquainted with the people, the principals of the company, the dean, Ed [Edward John] Ray, the president, and Tammy Bray, the dean, and got closer and closer and closer, it just became so obvious to me that the university was going to be able to do some wonderful 00:03:00things. And basically, that's why you're interviewing me, I guess [laughing]. Because I wrote them a check for five million dollars.

JD: Well, but you created the Moore Family Center.

BM: I did.

JD: Or that money did.

BM: The university did, with the money.

JD: Sure, so can you expand a little on how the Moore Family Center became the vehicle and why that was a good fit.

BM: Well you know, I knew you were coming, and I knew my memory of eight, seven, eight years ago so I wrote some things down. And if I didn't do this I would be a very poor person to interview. It was June 6th of 2012. That was the grand opening of the Moore Family Center at Oregon State University.

00:04:00

JD: And some of the memories of the grand opening?

BM: Well, we had a lovely party, a grand opening party, at the Hallie Ford Building, in the Hallie Ford Building. And I met Tammy Brae; I think I had met Tammy long before that, but she was the leadership in that. And Renee Carr and professors from the college of public health and human sciences, certainly Ed Ray, President Ed Ray, was there and quite a number of other folks. But some of the nutritionists were in attendance, and my wife Charlee and I, and some of my staff were there also. Nancy was there, and Lori Sobelson was there, and these people played a very key part in bringing all this together as well as guiding me in making the right decisions and helping me make the right decisions. It's been a wonderful, wonderful thing all the way through.

00:05:00

I have been blessed with pictures of that event, and I'm presuming I have them here, and I know this isn't the way you want to present them but I have some wonderful pictures of that event. So it's very clear in my mind the opportunity to meet these wonderful people and whatnot so. And my wife and I gave a short talk, and all-in-all it was just a lovely event.

JD: So you spoke just now of what a wonderful institution Oregon State University is. Was there something specific about how the Moore Family Center was going to be set up that appealed?

00:06:00

BM: My decision to focus and give funds and to encourage all of this wonderful activity with the university--there really, OSU just, you can't pick up a piece of dirt in the State of Oregon, and it doesn't have some of OSU in it. As a land grant university, it's just the right place to go. And they have taken this message of public health and human sciences. I had to write some of this down because it's a complicated title but they take their research out into the community. My mind is so filled with some of the wonderful things that Tammy and Emily and whatnot have done.

00:07:00

JD: Well just talk about some of those.

BM: You know what they do. They fix a lovely dinner, lunch with all the wholesome foods and stuff, and then invite us down there and tell us all they're doing. And we sit. We've had several lovely parties and lunches and whatnot and hear all the wonderful things. And then the kids, they usually get a bunch of kids from one of the schools and stuff, sometimes like grammar school kids and high school too. And they fix different meals and things all based around healthy products and whole grain and whatnot. It was funny, I chided Tammy on how important to me that whole grain was, and she came back with a little saying so I wouldn't, I would realize and not forget that she was very aware of what Bob's Red Mill does--whole grain foods for every meal of the day. And she made a statement to me; she actually sent me a little plaque that says, "Grains are 00:08:00engrained in my brain [laughing]." Every minute of the day that I'm at my desk I'm looking at it, and it's very sweet to me.

Anyhow, grains are awfully important to me, and I feel they're so fundamental and basic. It's the thing that got me into this business, and it's the thing that made Bob's Red Mill successful, and it's the thing that allowed me to give 00:09:00back to the community some of the money and wonderful support, which Tammy and all of the college university have been able to take to the community and make the community healthier and better. And I hear the wondrous things that they are doing and have done and will be doing, just all the time. It's been a wonderful, wonderful thing.

JD: In one of the photos that we were looking at earlier, there was a great image of Dean Tammy Bray giving Emily Ho, the inaugural director of the Moore Family Center--

BM: [laughs] I just looked at it. Yeah, I got it right here.

00:10:00

JD: --a key and maybe you could talk about your experiences with Emily, who's the, you know, the person running the show.

BM: Emily was very quiet. Emily is a very quiet lady, and actually she was interviewing three other people from around the world that the university reached out for someone to lead over this program. All the time I was giving these people tours of the mill, and incidentally there's the picture; you probably won't use that because you'll bring it on differently, but there's a delightful picture of both the ladies with a big smile on their face.

There was a whole process before this happened. This was her key to becoming the leadership in this program, but Emily brought three different people here to the plant, and I gave them each and every one tours and whatnot. And they gave their resumes and whatnot. And this went over a period of, oh I can't remember. How long was it, a few weeks? It wasn't too long because it needed to happen; we needed the leadership. And Tammy, of course, was watching over all of this. And then at the final end, the most qualified person was Emily [laughs]. And we all 00:11:00recognized that.

It was so delightful, because she'd been so quiet in introducing these people. But then the last thing in all of this program, was Emily gave a resume for the job herself. And she was so hands-down qualified and has been for, what? Well, for about seven years now, six or seven years and done such a lovely job. We've been to, I don't think I've missed any of the year-end programs. They've all been wonderful, all of the food has been, and all the trainings have been full, and we've had some wonderful speakers from all over the country, all brought about by the wonderful clout of the university. So, OSU has certainly reached out much further than the State of Oregon. As I said, 00:12:00there is not a tiny fraction of dirt in the state that doesn't contain some part of the university, or the people in the state, some influence from the university and all its wonderful tasks. But it has also reached out, they have also reached out around the country, too. So it has made a great impression on important things--people's health, and I'm very happy to be able to support this. It has just been a life thing for me, so very enjoyable.

JD: Well, and one of the people who has been very active in the outreach around the state, who came from the extension service, was Renee Carr.

00:13:00

BM: Oh yes, sweet Renee [laughs]. She just retired here a week or so ago. They opened, since the university is so far away, they opened an office--a very extensive and lovely office. What is it? Let's see, they're calling it the--

JD: It's the--

BM: Moore Family Center.

Nancy Garner: It's the extension office. [Nancy is Bob Moore's Executive Assistant.]

00:14:00

BM: Extension office.

NG: Just extension office.

BM: It's just up the street. And Renee has been instrumental in organizing and leading that for the last, I guess six years, five or six years, through my retail [sound of a beeping truck] store, in Milwaukie. A customer invited my wife and me to the CHIP program [Complete Health Improvement Program], the CHIP class. And I had, after we took the class, and it was so solid and so effective with lowering cholesterol, lowering weight, and lowering blood pressure, that I asked my leadership, Lori Sobelson--who was running the store at the time, the retail store--I asked her to become certified, which she did through the program and then to be able to have these classes in the store, which she did.

I think there was another thing too that I know was part of the case is the CHIP program was a part of a church, and some people weren't comfortable with the 00:15:00leanings of the program, even though it was a very valid program, and it taught very good, very solid health and nutrition. I'd like to see it go into a public institution, and Lori felt the same as I did about it, and now that she was a certified CHIP teacher the logical thing to do was to look about, and of course, OSU was the absolute hands-down choice on our part. And it happened to be on the part of my attorney group that was also looking for something--what to do with our ownership in this company. And so we ended up putting everything together--the money, and meeting Tammy, and [laughing] funding the Moore, I never can remember the name of it, the Moore Family Center. And that's how it all came together. It has been a wonderfully healthy, beneficial for the people of the state and for the health of folks if they want to know more about how some of the things about whole grains and whatnot and how healthy they are, why, 00:16:00we're all on the same track. So it's worked out very nice.

JD: So you've commented a couple of times that the center has been functioning for a few years now. There's been some wonderful programs that have come out of it. What are your hopes for the Moore Family Center going forward?

BM: Well I certainly hope it can be continued because I think it's, there's new 00:17:00people coming into the state all the time. There's new children being born all the time. And then there's people who are realizing that maybe they should change their diet a little bit and could benefit from all these wonderful things, and actually the extension office up the street is really busy all the time. We spent some time there just a couple weeks ago on a retirement and the folks that replaced, are replacing, Renee seem very wonderfully adequate to me to continue the programs. So I think that there is funds for this, and I believe we're just going to keep right on doing it, hopefully. That's what it's all about.

JD: Great, I don't have any more formal questions for you.

BM: Sure.

JD: If you have any comments that you've thought of or stories that I haven't asked you about that you want to tell, I want to make sure we collect those.

00:18:00

BM: I'm just so very pleased that the university has been so wonderfully, well, they've just done a great job of maintaining these programs--solid, dependable and something that, I don't know whether everyone, everywhere is able to maintain the quality and the consistency that the folks have out there, but I'm very impressed. So I'm very pleased to be associated with it. We see each other a lot. I mean, my retail outlet is just a block or two from where they have the extension office, and so we see the people a lot and that's nice too, so. I think we're doing a lot of good. I appreciate the opportunity as a business person to be able to support very solid programs for good health, and I think everybody is better off. And I'm so happy that Tammy has been such a part of this. Now she's retired too; so both Renee and Tammy are now retired, so. I'm 00:19:00not yet [laughs]. I'm still working every day, and I hope to stay that way for a while yet, so anyway. Anyway, I so appreciate being able to tell about these things. Thanks, thanks for asking me.

JD: Well and we appreciate you taking the time to share your stories. They're wonderful.

BM: Thanks, thanks very much. I really appreciate that.

00:20:00