In 1990 a strong, young man set out on a journey. His appetite for adventure had him continually searching for the next great feat to accomplish. On this particular day, the goal was a one-day, 175-mile bicycle ride with his buddy. Halfway through the ride he pulled out yet another unappetizing, sticky, hard-to-stomach energy bar, his fifth of the day. He took one look at the grungy protein and stashed it back into his pocket. Cruising down a mountain at 30 mph he yelled over to his friend, “I can make a bar better than this!” He was right.
Gary Erickson went on to create one of the most esteemed energy bars on the market, CLIF Bar. Erickson spent two months in the kitchen with his mom, honing the recipe for his new bars. He used wholesome, energy-sustaining ingredients. In 1992 CLIF Bar was officially launched, named after Gary’s father, Clifford, the man who taught him to love adventure and to follow his dreams.
Over the next eight years the company grew tremendously. CLIF Bar became one of the top bars on the market. Suddenly, however, most of their competitors began to be bought up by huge, multinational food companies. This put a lot of pressure on Erickson to sell CLIF Bar. He was offered $120 million for the company, and was faced with a tough decision.
Ultimately, he made the bold move to continue with CLIF Bar. Now, fifteen years later, this proves to be a wise decision as CLIF Bar has continued to grow and is still one of the most popular bars around. Erickson has established a unique business model that pushes the boundaries of conventional wisdom. He believes in the need for his employees to live holistic lives. CLIF Bar offers many benefits for their employees, including: an onsite fitness center, personal trainers, flexible workweek, paid volunteer service, onsite childcare and concierge services such as haircuts and organic produce delivery.
Adventure, risk taking, and dedication have proven to be guiding forces for Erickson. His story shows the potential for a small idea to take root and have tremendous impact on an entire market.