The man behind the Richmond company that won’t stop growing

 
"Roulac, posing in a Chia field. Chia seeds are one of Nutiva's marquee products" (Photo courtesy of: Nutiva.com)
“Roulac, posing in a Chia field. Chia seeds are one of Nutiva’s marquee products” (Photo courtesy of: Nutiva.com)

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If you want to get a good impression of who John Roulac is, take a look at his profile on the Nutiva website. There are no Breitling wristwatches or oxblood shoes visible in the picture. Rather, Roulac sits shoulders deep in a sun-baked chia field wearing a buttonless, coral-colored Guatemalan shirt.

For having a fashion sense closely associated with flower power, it may be hard to believe that Roulac, a longtime Bay Area resident now living in Point Richmond, is CEO of the largest organic superfoods company in the world, with growth projected at $1 billion for the year 2025.

Before ‘disruption’ and ‘social responsibility’ were Silicon Valley buzzwords meant to put a face on faceless companies, John Roulac embodied these terms, and still does today. As CEO of Nutiva for almost 15 years, Roulac has not only been outspoken about health fads and mainstream environmental causes, but has thrived on them, creating an empire.

According to Inc. magazine, Nutiva revenue has grown 482 percent in the past three years. In 2012, it brought in $12 million. In 2014, Nutiva is projected to take in more than $100 million. The rapid growth has already forced the company to move their operations from Sebastopol to a larger warehouse on Cutting Blvd, and when I visited the plant, there was little room between the food processing facility, the outgoing shipping boxes and the cardboard repurposing unit.

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