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|Articles - November/December 2013|
|Monday, October 28, 2013|
Page 1 of 2
BY LINDA BAKER
You won’t catch Bob Hale crying over onions — whole, processed or fresh cut. The CEO of River Point Farms in Hermiston, Hale presides over the largest onion growing and processing operation in the country, with 450 million pounds of overall onion volume each year. The company grossed $70 million this past year and is on track to gross $100 million by 2018.
Some of that growth is expected to result from a deal Hale struck this past fall, when he and his brother Rick bought back control of River Point, which has roots in a small farm Hale purchased back in 1977.
The purchase will allow River Point to expand its growing, production, packing, shipping and product offerings. It also reflects the onion grower’s vertically integrated business strategy. “What differentiates us is we not only plant the seed, but we control the process from planting to harvesting to storing to fresh-cut processing to packaging to shipping,” Hale says. “We are seed to shelf.”
Headquartered in Northeastern Oregon, River Point supplies about 60 contract customers, including industrial ingredient, food service and restaurant chains such as Subway, Wendy’s, Panera and Chipotle. The company also sells to many grocery stores. Its big-league success is rooted in natural as well as strategic causes, Hale says.
“I always say I chose to be born in the Columbia Basin because there’s no better place to grow onions in the world,” says 59-year-old Hale, who grew up in Echo and now splits his time between Hermiston and Portland, where his wife, Kelly, is a senior vice president with RBC Wealth Management.
Capitalizing on the area’s sunny days and a long growing season, River Point has implemented several initiatives to help ensure customers don’t decamp for the competition. The nation’s onion consumption is “fairly inelastic,” with consumption growing about 4% to 5% a year, says Hale. “So for us to grow, we have to take market share from someone else.”
One tactic is to supply national brands year-round, a commitment aided by River Point’s state-of-the-art climate-controlled warehouses, which are capable of storing 300 million pounds of bulbs, available for shipping at the customer’s request. To meet client demand, the company also grows onions in four states: Oregon, Washington, Idaho and California. Hale now has his eye on Texas and Georgia, states that will put River Point onions closer to East Coast markets.
Wednesday, August 26, 2015
BY KIM MOORE AND LINDA BAKER
Child care in Oregon is expensive and hard to find. We delved into the numbers and talked to a few executives and managers about day care costs, accessibility and work-life balance.
Thursday, September 24, 2015
BY KIM MOORE | RESEARCH EDITOR
The traditional model of sports teams using paid media to get their message across is disappearing as teams look instead to social media to interact with fans.
Tuesday, October 06, 2015
BY CHRIS NOBLE
As we worked on the October cover, it became evident that Nick Symmonds is a hard man to catch — even when he’s not hotfooting it around a track.
Wednesday, September 16, 2015
BY GREGG LEWIS | OP-ED
The issue of green-washing remains a significant challenge to those of us who would like to see the building sector in this country do more than make unverifiable claims of sustainability. Transparency about the impacts of a given material is the only way to allow designers to make intelligent choices when selecting building products.
Thursday, September 10, 2015
BY KIM MOORE
Oregon is set to become a hub of a new type of wooden building design as a southern Oregon timber company becomes the first certified manufacturer of a high-tech wood product, known as cross-laminated timber, or CLT.
Monday, September 28, 2015
BY CHRIS NOBLE
This year has been so dry we were caught napping when it finally started to sprinkle. Hopefully you didn’t get caught in a downpour while eagerly awaiting — don’t deny it — our curation of Oregon-grown wet weather wear.
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
BY KIM MOORE
A conversation with Chris Maples, president of the Oregon Institute of Technology.
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