Our Next Chapter: Hummingbirds Become Owners

Our Next Chapter: Hummingbirds Become Owners

Dear friends, customers and supporters of Hummingbird Wholesale,

Julie and I, as business owners of Hummingbird, have acted from the premise that business is most successful if it is serving others in the best possible way. To spiritualize our business ambitions is to serve the proper needs of our fellow beings. For almost 20 years, as the owners and primary caretakers of Hummingbird, we have stewarded the company with the goal of serving the healthy food needs of individuals, community and the planet.

There are a few times in our lives where we have had the opportunity to impact a future in a way that will likely outlive us. Planting a tree. Birthing a child. Constructing a building.

As we look to the future, it is clear to Julie and me that having a healthy planet requires a different approach to doing business than the one developed within the constructs of the industrial model of the past two centuries in the United States. This model has too often proven to be extractive and reductive in its impacts on both people and planet. In contrast, we have built Hummingbird on the foundational mission to "sip the nectar of the Earth without harming the flower," seeking to create authentic human connections, grounded in mutually beneficial relationships, in symbiosis with the natural world.

Black Barley springing up.
Award-winning Black Barley springing up last week in Dayton, OR—grown by Oregon Grain & Bean and James Henderson, Hummingbird's Senior Farm Liason.

We believe the task of rethinking and redesigning ownership is integral to the critical need to bring human civilization into harmony with the Earth. In imagining a future when we are no longer the owners of Hummingbird, Julie and I wanted to ensure the business would continue to develop in service to this mission. It was also 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.

To benefit the individuals who make Hummingbird what it is, out of respect for the Earth, and with a vision to continue in our mission to be co-creators of a vibrant, healthy food system, Julie and I have transferred ownership of Hummingbird Wholesale to an Employee Owned Purpose Trust (also referred to as a Perpetual Purpose Trust), as of January 2023.

While the Perpetual Purpose Trust model for business ownership is relatively new in the US, it is a model that is becoming more common, and proven successful elsewhere in the world. We join a growing cohort of mission driven businesses that have transitioned to Perpetual Purpose Trust Ownership, in an effort to reimagine business as a force for good, with a focus on mission over profits.

As an Employee Owned Purpose Trust (EOPT), Hummingbird will be legally responsible for accomplishing the following purpose:

To serve as a co-creator of life enhancing, inclusive and healthy food systems for our regional and global community.

This purpose is intended to remain relevant to the company in perpetuity; the company will never be sold, and all profit will be invested in coworker compensation and in the company's future.

Julie and I are excited to ensure that all coworkers at Hummingbird, under the new ownership model, will be the primary financial beneficiaries of the daily effort to serve our customers, build relationships with vendors, and support healthy farming outcomes as part of this transition.

As part of the ownership transition, I will continue to act as Hummingbird's CEO. The products and services we offer will not change, and the management team will stay the same. The values and mission that have served Hummingbird over the decades will remain – we are dedicated to delighting our customers and being a positive force for change in the food system!

We look forward to sharing more details of our ownership transition at Hummingbird and the Employee Owned Purpose Trust Model as we continue on our journey. Julie and I are so grateful for the years of support from our customers, vendors and farmers, all who have made Hummingbird's success possible. We are inspired to transition the company ownership to an Employee Owned Purpose Trust, so that Hummingbird can maintain its unique and innovative business values and contribution into the future.

In dedication to a healthy planet,

Charlie Tilt

For questions and media inquiries, contact trust@hummingbirdwholesale.com
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I am so impressed by this move. Thank you for showing the world another way to think about collective success!

Rita Soliton

Well done! As you have made a difference you also shall continue to make a difference 🙏

Julie Wasmer

This is so great!!!! Getting to know you both along with all the ‘birds’ you have sent to the Provender Alliance conference year after year, im not surprised you are doing such an amazing thing for your workers and the world! YOU ROCK!!!!

Meg K

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