Neil Grimmer: A Creative Leadership Style that Tastes Great

NeilGrimmerHow many famous leadership styles tout “Bring in the revenue!”…”Push your employees to the top!”…(and) “The heck with values–sales and growth are what counts!” One famous leadership style, which has–since its inception 8 years ago–definitely brought in new accounts, top revenue and an expanded reputation, places its greatest focus on “mission,” values and employee happiness.  This famous leadership style belongs to Neil Grimmer, the founder of Plum Organics, the no-BPA, no-fructose, no-artificial ingredient, baby-food and child-snack maker with 150 products bursting with pure fruits and vegetables–and promoted by Wal-Mart and Target!

Mr. Grimmer brought together like-minded parents to develop Plum Organics after his 2 daughters were born and he and his wife could find no truly “natural” and tasty foods for them. Therefore, Grimmer’s “built with purpose brand” resonated with many consumers–and employees.

The article Leadership is Not for the Faint of Heart, which was published last April in the Huffington Post online, described Grimmer’s very effective leadership style as:

  • FOCUSED–Grimmer doesn’t urge, or permit, his workers to wander off track and get caught up in “revenue growth, investor demands and/or in-fighting.”
  • MISSION-ORIENTED–Grimmer reminds employees often–with Plum’s “original goal” painted on the walls–that they’ve committed themselves to an operation that provides “the very best (quality) foods to all little ones from the very first bites.”
  • PLEDGED TO SUSTAINABILITY–Plum’s company packaging–especially the pouches containing fruit-and-vegetable yogurts and smoothies–leave a “smaller environmental footprint” (than glass) because manufacturing them “uses less energy and generates less greenhouse gases during their life-cycle.”
  • INSPIRATIONAL–After Grimmer motivates each employee, through personal communications, to “live out the company’s mission each day,” he gives every one the “tools and opportunities” to do just that.
  • GIVING BACK–Since Grimmer encourages employees to go “above and beyond” their work lives, many have participated in Plum’s partnerships with non-profits to change the “unacceptable fact” that too many U.S. children don’t receive “nutritionally adequate foods” daily. Recently, Plum employees traveled to South Dakota to distribute 7,000 “organic baby food meals” to residents of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
  • OPEN–Even when Plum is performing less than ideally and experiencing “growing pains,” Grimmer remains “transparent and truthful” with staff and invites all to “brainstorming sessions” to generate solutions.
  • REIGNITING PASSION–As Grimmer recognizes that “family building” with employees (and their significant others) and “reenergizing the purpose” are crucial, his company hosts yearly “family retreats.

Neil takes a creative approach to leadership and finds that its best to create a company and product that can instill a passion with its employees.  Grimmer emphasizes. “It’s absolutely essential to understand the [business] fundamentals. You have to know the rules and when to break them. We’ve uniformly almost always taken a creative look to how to do business differently.”

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