Bumble Bar makes beeline to Spokane

Alison Boggs/Staff writer
Spokesman Review

Jed’s picture is on the back of every Bumble Bar.

Maybe you’ve seen it when munching on one of the organic snack bars sold at places like Huckleberry’s, The Rocket Market and Fred Meyer.

Well, keep an eye out because pretty soon you might see Jed himself walking around Spokane with his family.

Tacoma-based Bumble Bar is moving to Spokane Valley. The company will move into 3,200 square feet at the Spokane Business and Industrial Park on April 1, drawn by family ties, lower rent and an easier commute.

But the No. 1 consideration, said company co-owner Glenn Ward, was being closer to family. Jed, who is Ward’s stepson, is 11 years old. Jed’s dad, grandpa and much of the rest of the family live in Spokane.

“We’ll benefit from having the whole extended family there,” Ward said. “We’re moving three blocks from his grandpa.”

The business climate was appealing too, Ward said. On the West Side, living on Vashon Island made for a two-hour commute. Space was getting tight for the business that has grown by more than 20 percent every year since it began in 1995. And with the different spaces available in The Park, Bumble Bar won’t have to move far when it’s time to expand again, Ward said.

“We’re more than doubling our manufacturing space for the same rent on the other side of the mountains,” Ward said. “It seems palatial to us.”

Bumble Bar is on track to sell 1 million bars this year. The sesame bars come in flavors like Lushus Lemon, Chocolate Crisp and Chai. At the Rocket Market, co-owner Alan Shepherd said they sell for $1.50.

“We’ve sold ’em for a long time,” Shepherd said. “They stopped by and said they were moving to town.”

The bars are sold at 2,800 retailers in every state, from Homer, Alaska to Puerto Rico. Their biggest Northwest customer is Fred Meyer and nationally they’re distributed by United Natural Foods and Tree of Life. Ward anticipates hiring up to five employees to run the production facility.

He said the company runs “on the model of Patagonia,” promoting environmental protection and good treatment of employees, while still making a profit. “We’re making organic food in recyclable packaging. We’re trying to be active in our community and be an environmental steward.”

Also, Phil Spiegel, who owns Small Planet Tofu in Newport, Wash., is a close friend of the owners.

“This is amazing. We went to visit in November and boom, they were looking at moving over here,” Spiegel said. “A bunch of things fell together and maybe we helped build a fire under them. He decided in no time flat.”

Copyright 2004. Reproduced with permission of The Spokesman-Review. Permission is granted in the interest of public discussion and does no imply endorsement of any product, service or organization otherwise mentioned herein.