In 2011, brothers Elliott and Marshall Rader founded their company, now known as The Gluten Free Brothers, out of need. They were gluten intolerant and could not find gluten free foods that they liked. “The first couple of years was really figuring out what to do and how to make a good product,” Marshall shared. The company grew from a small production site about the size of a garage to a 30,000 square foot facility in less than 10 years because their focus on making a quality product in a sustainable way resonated with customers and employees. As a Certified B Corp, they never lose sight of doing things to make the community and the world better.
The brothers told us, “Many other brands are just a marketing company and farm out manufacturing of their product to someone else. We are hands on, we control the product, and make everything ourselves.” Directly controlling the process means The GFB can innovate new product offerings. They expanded from just bars at the beginning to now include bites and oatmeal that are sold around the US, Canada, and in Europe.
The new product lines required additional team members, and a reimagining of how the operation could run. They now have a local workforce of 55 people in Kent County with demand for more production and operations team members in the future.
“We’ve added 10 new team members this year. Some of our better talent, especially in sales and marketing, were interested in working with us because of our sustainability efforts,” Marshall shared. The GFB takes sustainability very seriously. Rather than sending food waste to landfills, they provide it for local farms to use as compost. Pallets and buckets are upcycled while other packaging that cannot be reused is recycled. They are maintaining greater than 90% landfill diversion rates and everyone in the company is involved in that effort. “Even if someone didn’t join The GFB to be involved in a zero-waste company, they get involved. There is a shift in their mindset the more they become aware of why we do what we do,” Elliott said.
The GFB cares for their team like they care for the planet. They promote from within whenever possible. A new VP of Operations worked to restructure the plant into work cells, each with a team leader. The team leaders were promoted from production roles, while others who started with no experience worked their way into quality technician, purchasing, or administrative positions with dedication and consistency. “We want to enrich the lives of our customers, team, and planet. We have a bonus structure in place for all members,” Elliott said.
When asked if there were best practices that other companies could learn from, the brothers talked about sustainability. “Whether a company cares about sustainability or not, they need to know that customers do. Start with understanding what a B Corp is. It’s far more than just recycling…it’s also about people and doing the right things for your team members and your community.” To learn more about what it takes to become a Certified B Corp, go HERE.