Three (or four) questions for Private 150 executives

Our July/August issue features OB's annual ranking of the state’s privately held companies.  We follow up by asking executives from three of the fastest growing Private 150 firms about managing growth, new product launches and industry challenges and opportunities.

Ed Gerdes, general counsel, Café Yumm!

OB: What are your top growth drivers?

EG: We focus on food consistency, local sourcing, fresh preparation and organically certified food. Over 50% of our food is certified organic. No other restaurant group our size or larger serves this much certified organic food. Guests also like our triple bottom line business management philosophy. We are an Oregon Benefit Company.

OB: What is the biggest challenge you face as you continue to grow so rapidly?

EG: One is that we must strengthen our training programs to replicate the Yumm! experience in each new location. Two is that we must continue helping local farmers convert conventional land to organic land. This year alone we are helping convert 600 acres to organic production.

OB: You were founded in 1998 and apparently saw the healthy fast casual market coming! How do you plan to compete with the growing number of companies entering the market?

EG: We will continue following our core values. Triple bottom line business management means that when making decisions we consider not just profits, but impact on our team members, guests, communities where we operate, and the environment. Our guests know and appreciate our commitment as a business being part of the solution, not the problem.

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