In the various candidates forums, everyone has an idea about how to create jobs in Richmond. The Chevron candidates think we should suck up to Chevron more. The Chamber of Commerce candidates think we should cut taxes and fees. Others think that the disruptions at City Council meetings scare away businesses, and only they can be the catalyst that brings the Council together.
Well, maybe we can always do better, but it may be a surprise that we are doing quite well now. Don’t forget, the biggest prize of all, LNBL, chose Richmond over at least four other cities.
And Nutiva is having a grand opening today at 3:00 PM at its new headquarters in Richmond. Nutiva, which has annual revenue of $40 million and is growing at 55% annually, is hiring as many as 100 new employees.
A local small business owner, Sherry Padgett (www.kraycablinginc.com) writes:
While Nutiva’s relocation to Richmond has been known for some time, I want to share that John Roulac and his staff made an outstanding effort to hire local contractors for the construction and upgrade of Nutiva’s new office and warehouse facility on Cutting Boulevard.
Nutiva hired my small ten-person Richmond-based electrical contracting business to install new voice, data and video cables and a few electrical circuits in the warehouse; Kray’s employees have benefitted directly from Nutiva’s decision to locate in Richmond.
Nutiva hired the same local painter who painted my Richmond home to paint the renovated Nutiva office space.
I hope the City of Richmond continues to welcome Nutiva as a new anchor business.
When I first heard Nutiva was coming, I was curious why a Southern California company would pick up and move to Richmond, so I called John Roulac. This is what he told me:
- Nutiva needed a much larger facility and wanted to be near the port of Oakland because all their raw materials are imported. The Richmond location came at an attractive price and is centrally located in their prime market for organic foods that includes Berkeley, Marin County, the Oakland Hills and Sonoma County.
- He liked the emphasis the Richmond political leadership has placed on healthy and organic food production. He recognizes that Richmond has some “issues” but feels the City is “up and coming.”
- He was complimentary of Richmond City staff, particularly Richard Mitchell, in helping to facilitate the move.
I asked him what impact local taxes played in his decision to relocate, and he said “none.” Roulac said business decisions are based on customer demand, not taxes.
For more information about Nutiva, see:
- Health Food Company Nutiva Moving to Richmond, Hiring 100 Workers, August 21, 2012
- Nutiva on ABC 7 News, Job Fair Coverage, Including Interview with Nutiva CEO and Founder John W. Roulac, August 19, 2012
- Nutiva is Hiring, July 19, 2012
- Nutiva Moves to Richmond, Adds 50 Employees, June 12, 2012
Hemp pioneer Nutiva grows product line
Point Richmond company feeds health food hunger
San Francisco Business Times by Lindsay Riddell, Reporter
Date: Friday, September 28, 2012, 3:00am PDT - Last Modified: Thursday, September 27, 2012, 2:05pm PDT
View photo gallery (2 photos)
Photo: Paolo Vescia
“It’s now mainstream,” Nutiva’s John Roulac says of the health food industry.
Reporter- San Francisco Business Times
When he started Nutiva in 1999, John Roulac was a hemp food activist peddling a fringe product.
But times have changed, and business is booming at Nutiva, a $40 million company that has grown up with the organic health food movement while maintaining its activist bent.
Founded in Sebastopol, Nutiva relocated over the summer to Point Richmond from Oxnard. It will hire 30 more people before the year’s end for its new 104,000-square-foot space that includes offices, a warehouse from which it does same-day order processing for online orders, and a new packaging line. Employment should grow to 100 in 2013 from 20 today.
Nutiva also has an option to take over 100,000 additional square feet at the Cutting Road facility.
Nutiva sells hemp, coconut and chia-based foods at stores including Whole Foods and other specialty health shops. Nutiva is also available through the company’s website and on Amazon.com.
Roulac, founder and CEO, said he started the company to pioneer hemp foods, introducing its first hemp bar in 1999.
The company expanded its product line to offer hemp seed, hemp oil and hemp protein, and then, in 2004, coconut oil.
That was a defining moment for the company, and his best business decision, Roulac said.
“We entered the coconut oil market when everyone said coconut is bad and margarine is good,” Roulac said. “All the media was against us. All the doctors, medical establishments, even some of our distributors thought I was nuts to sell it.”
Recent research has shown that the saturated fat in coconut oil does not have the same negative effects as other types of saturated fats and can actually improve heart health. It hasn’t hurt that celebrity doctors such as Dr. Oz have been touting the benefits of coconut oil.
Now, Nutiva’s coconut oil is its fastest-growing product. Chia, an herb said to be grown by the ancient Aztecs that is high in omega-3 oils, is also selling well — and Nutiva can’t keep it stocked because supplies of Mexico-grown chia are limited.
It’s illegal to grow hemp in the United States, so Nutiva has to import hemp seeds and oil from other countries, including Canada. Since 2005, legislation to legalize industrial hemp has been introduced in Congress four times. The Hemp Industries Association reported that although the market for hemp foods has grown each year since 2001, hemp foods will remain a niche product until industrial hemp can be grown legally here.
“It will be allowed to be grown and processed once again in the U.S.,” said Hemp Industries spokesman Tom Murphy. “That will change everything.”
Roulac said the company has grown at a 55 percent annual growth rate since 2002. He believes it’s the interest in health, and in knowing what’s in one’s food, that’s driving growth at the company.
“Three years ago, it was more people who were just interested in organics — health freaks and what have you,” Roulac said. “It’s now mainstream. People who a year ago used to eat at McDonald’s and now all of a sudden their oldest boy has diabetes and they’re going, ‘Maybe I should pay attention to what’s in my food.’”
Richmond was an ideal location because Nutiva’s ingredients are shipped through the Port of Oakland from the Philippines, Indonesia, Mexico and various South American countries.
Roulac has always been an advocate and something of an activist — pushing unsuccessfully for legislation to legalize hemp as a non-drug food and fiber crop in the 1990s. He, along with the Hemp Industry Association and other hemp food purveyors, successfully fought the Drug Enforcement Administration in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit after hemp foods were listed as an illegal substance by the DEA in an interpretive rule.
Now Roulac is a vocal proponent of Proposition 37, which would require labeling of foods that contain genetically modified ingredients and whose opponents include Del Monte Foods and Kellogg Co., the owners of organic brands including Kashi and Bear Naked.
“I’m not always the most popular guy in the organic food industry,” Roulac said. “It’s sad to see the organic food industry compromise standards and values in pursuit of the almighty dollar. There’s nothing wrong with business, market share and profits. We’re all for that if you can provide profits and values in a synergistic way that’s going to create better food.”
Snapshot: Nutiva Inc.
HQ: Point Richmond.
Founder: John Roulac.
2012 revenue: $40 million.
Growth: 55 percent average annual growth since 2002.
Future plans: Option to take over 100,000 additional square feet at the Cutting Road facility.