Hummingbird Wholesale becomes one of the first Employee-Owned Purpose Trusts in Oregon, elevating their mission and their employees
Hummingbird Wholesale, a local organic food distributor, is proud to announce their transition to an Employee Ownership Trust (EOT). This move is reflective of the company’s commitment to empowering their employees and maintaining their mission-driven values.
Owners Charlie and Julie Tilt have stewarded the company for almost 20 years with the goal of serving the healthy food needs of individuals, the community, and the planet. As part of their succession planning, the Tilts explored various options for the company’s future and ultimately chose an EOT as the best path forward.
The transition will not affect the current day-to-day operations⸺regional farmers will continue to supply organically grown products and Hummingbird will continue to supply a full line of pantry staples and signature snacks to the West Coast, including fan favorites like dried mangos, Awakened® nuts, trail mixes, and Pacific Northwest honey.
Under the new structure, the Trust is the company’s owner. It is operated by a board of trustees, which includes both employees and external representatives. The employees are the trust beneficiaries.
An EOPT ensures that the legacy of an owner’s business will be preserved in perpetuity. Hummingbird’s Trust includes bylaws that preserve its mission “to offer organic, high-quality, nutritious foods grown as locally and sustainably as possible” and ensures the business “maintains environmental, social, and economic sustainability and acts as a force for good in the food system, as stewards of the Earth, for current and future generations.”
An equally important part of the purpose trust includes ensuring that Hummingbird will be owned and governed in a manner that is beneficial to the workers. This includes democratic management, advancement opportunities, livable wages, and time for self-care. Additionally, under the EOT, all profits will be reinvested in the business and shared with coworkers.
“It was important to us that the people who do the work to make Hummingbird successful, our coworkers, are entrusted to carry the company forward and reap the rewards of their efforts,” stated Charlie Tilt.
Hummingbird was guided through the transition process by Project Equity, a national nonprofit that provides hands-on consulting to business owners who want to transition to employee ownership– whether through an Employee Ownership Trust, an Employee Stock Ownership Plan or worker-owned cooperative. The partnership supports the new owners post-transition to ensure that both the employees and business continue to thrive by staying rooted in the local community.
Bulk and grocery foods manufacturer and distributor, Hummingbird Wholesale is dedicated to being a positive force for change in the organic industry. Hummingbird works directly with family farms to source wholesome Organic food, with a focus on Pacific Northwest-grown staples through their Distributer Supported Agriculture (DSA) program, as well as thoughtfully curated unique and healthy products, such as their in-house manufactured Awakened®, sprouted nuts and seeds, and single origin honeys. From their warehouse in Eugene, Oregon, Hummingbird serves a full variety of food businesses, including co-ops, regional retail chains, restaurants, food service providers and manufacturers. At Hummingbird Wholesale, every relationship matters–more than a food distributor, they work closely with farmers, businesses and nonprofit organizations to promote sustainable agriculture, build regional food system infrastructure, and strengthen the organic community.