Clif Bar

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Clif Bar & Company
HeadquartersEmeryville, California, United States
Key people
Gary Erickson, Kit Crawford (Co-Owners and Co-CVOs), Kevin Cleary (CEO), Michelle Ferguson (Executive Vice President of Marketing)
ProductsEnergy Bars and Snacks

Clif Bar & Company is an American company that produces organic foods and drinks. The company's flagship product, CLIF Bar, was created by Gary Erickson and Lisa Thomas. The company is based in Emeryville, California, and is privately held.[1] In April 2013, Kevin Cleary was named CEO of the company, Rich Boragno was named CFO, and co-owners Erickson and Kit Crawford became co-chief visionary officers.[2] In 2018, Cleary departed the company and Erickson and Crawford became co-CEOs, positions they held previously.

Company history[edit]

A baker and former mountain guide,[3] Erickson got the idea for his product in 1990 on a day-long, 175 mile bike ride, for which he packed a variety of energy bars.[4][5] Two years later after experimenting in his mother's kitchen, he settled on a recipe for what would become the CLIF Bar.[6] Erickson tried several ventures—including Forza, Torque, and Gary's Bar—before settling on CLIF Bar, named after his father Clifford.[7] The packaging image of a rock climber was first drawn by Doug Gilmour on a napkin over dinner in San Francisco.[7] At a September 1991 bike show, Erickson debuted three flavors: double chocolate, apricot, and date oatmeal. In its first year, sales of CLIF Bar exceeded $700,000, fueled primarily by strong sales in bike shops and the growth of the healthy and natural foods movement.[4] Sales doubled each year, and by 1997, revenue surpassed $20 million.[8] In 1997, the company name was changed from Kali's SportNaturals to Clif Bar, Inc. .[9] In 2010, the company moved into a new headquarters in the EmeryTech Building in Emeryville, California.[10] Designed by ZGF Architects LLP, the former manufacturing plant earned Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum status.[11] The building was repurposed and sustainably-designed with photovoltaic panels, solar thermal panels, reclaimed wood, plants and other biophilic features.[12]

Two LUNA Bars: Lemon Zest (left) and Nutz Over Chocolate (right)

In March 1999, Clif Bar introduced LUNA Bar, which was specifically marketed towards women. In April 2000, Erickson and Thomas turned down a $120 million offer from Quaker Oats to buy the company.[13]

Clif Bar & Company was ranked the No. 1 brand in the Forbes "Breakaway Brands" survey, conducted by Landor Associates using Young & Rubicam's BrandAsset Valuator database measuring brand momentum from 2006 to 2009.[14]

Other ventures[edit]

Erickson and Crawford founded the Clif Bar Family Foundation in 2006,[15] which through 2012 had committed $1 million to promote organic seed research and conserve crop genetic diversity.[16]

Erickson and Crawford also own the Clif Family Winery & Farm in the Napa Valley, which had its first national release in 2008.[17]


Two Clif Bars
Clif Builder's Bar, a protein bar

In addition to its signature original Clif Bar, the company produces a variety of energy bars tailored to women, children, and other markets, a sports drink, and fruit-based items such as fruit ropes.[18] In 2014, the company unveiled four gel-like squeezable 'energy foods' that were expanded in early 2016 to encompass six flavors.[19] All products use organic ingredients. Seventy percent of the company's purchased ingredients are certified organic.[16]

Environmental sustainability[edit]

The Clif Bar company has instituted policies intended to make it more green-friendly. It switched to organic ingredients and eliminated shrink-wrap, saving 90,000 pounds of plastic and $400,000 annually, and invested in wind energy to offset fossil fuel usage.[20]

To help reduce fuel consumption, Clif Bar began giving employees $6,500 in 2007 to switch to bio-diesel or high-mileage hybrid cars.[5] As a bio-diesel incentive program, "Cool Commute" was the first of its type nationwide and drew praise from Al Gore for helping to aid the fight against global warming.[21] In 2008, the company began giving employees up to $500 to purchase a commuter bike, with annual rewards up to $960 for getting to work on foot, bicycle, or public transportation.[22] The company also began offering employees up to $1,000 annually to make eco-improvement to their homes, such as insulation, solar panel installation, and new windows.[23] In April 2009, Clif Bar joined Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy also known as BICEP, a coalition of companies including Nike, eBay and The North Face, with the goal of passing progressive climate and energy legislation.[24] In October 2015, Clif Bar along with other members BICEP released a joint letter pledging to accelerate business action on climate change and urging governments to do the same.[25]

In 2012, amid concerns over child labor and possible slavery on West African cocoa farms, Clif Bar was challenged to disclose the source of their cocoa.[26] On March 5, 2012, the company announced that thenceforth "100 percent of cocoa ingredients for CLIF Bar will be sourced from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms."[27]

Company culture[edit]

In June 2010, Clif Bar initiated an employee stock ownership program (ESOP), which gave 20 percent ownership of the company to its employees, with Crawford and Erickson retaining the other 80 percent.[28][29]

Company facilities include an on-site gym, rock climbing wall, two yoga room/dance studios, and massage rooms. There are on-site showers so employees can shower after their workout. Employees also have access to free counseling and life coaching.[30] Employees can bring their dogs to work and get two and a half hours of paid exercise each week with free personal training. Clif Bar & Company was named among Outside magazine's Best Places to Work in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012.[31][32][33][34][35]

In November 2014 Clif Bar made a decision to limit risky behavior by its sponsored athletes stating "going forward we will not be sponsoring climbers who are primarily recognized for free-soloing, B.A.S.E. jumping, and highlining. This change in sponsorship approach did not come without great debate." The company reasoned that "[they] no longer feel good about benefitting from the amount of risk certain athletes are taking in areas of the sport where there is no margin for error; where there is no safety net".[36]

In 2018, the company introduced the “Re-Tern” program, in which pre-retiree Clif Bar employees can apply for an internship at the Community Department to be trained in non-profit operations. The goal is to prepare individuals retiring from the company for “a post-Clif Bar place in the world.”[37]

Community outreach[edit]

Clif Bar began community outreach in 2001, with the initial aim of donating 2,080 employee volunteer hours to community service.[38] In 2010, Clif employees donated 5,290 hours.[39] In 2008, the "In Good Company" initiative was announced, which organizes employees across several companies[which?] to assist in larger development projects, such as in New Orleans, East Oakland, and the Hopi Reservation in Arizona.[40]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "CLIF BAR & COMPANY" (PDF). fact sheet. Clif Bar & Company. Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 May 2012. Retrieved 25 June 2012.
  2. ^ Frojo, Renee (April 24, 2013). "Clif Bar's Gary Erickson leaves CEO role". Mercury News. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  3. ^ Riddell, Lindsay (March 2, 2012). "Gary Erickson, co-founder, co-owner and co-CEO of Clif Bar & Co". San Francisco Business Times. Retrieved 26 June 2012.
  4. ^ a b Dahl, Darren Clif Bar: How a Husband-Wife Team Built a $235 Million Empire ‘’AOL Small Business’’.
  5. ^ a b Hosni, Nadia Triple Bottom Line: Clif Bar & Company[permanent dead link] Tonic. July 7, 2010
  6. ^ Who We Are
  7. ^ a b Erickson, Gary and Lois Lorentzen. Raising the Bar: The Story of Clif Bar. San Francisco, CA, Jossey-Bass. 2004.
  8. ^ From Out of the Gym, Into the Grocery Store The New York Times. November 22, 1997.
  9. ^ Clif Bar & Company: Company Overview Bloomberg Business.
  10. ^ [1]
  11. ^ Kaye, Leon (May 18, 2012). "Clif Bar Celebrates Its 20th Birthday With LEED Platinum Headquarters". Triple Pundit. Retrieved 25 June 2012.
  12. ^ . McKnight, Jenna M (January 2012). "Clif Bar Headquarters". Greensource. Archived from the original on 27 May 2012. Retrieved 22 June 2012.
  13. ^ A Company Fueled by Athlete's Sweat The Wall Street Journal. March 24, 2010.
  14. ^ Breakaway Brands Offer Simple Pleasures Forbes. Oct. 8, 2010.
  15. ^ "Our Story". Clif Bar Family Foundation. Retrieved 26 June 2012.
  16. ^ a b Lempert, Phil (February 9, 2012). "Sustainability Series: Clif Bar". The Lembert Report. Archived from the original on 3 February 2013. Retrieved 25 June 2012.
  17. ^ Ted Loos (May 7, 2008), Clif Hanger, ARTINFO, retrieved 2008-05-14
  18. ^ "(Website/ Products)". Clif Bar & Company. Retrieved 26 August 2014.
  19. ^ "Clif Organic Energy Food Getting New Flavors - Cold Outdoorsman". Cold Outdoorsman. Retrieved 2016-02-16.
  20. ^ "The Pioneers". Inc. November 1, 2006. Retrieved 25 June 2012.
  21. ^ Al Gore congratulates Clif Bar on its biodiesel efforts Biodiesel Magazine. February 2007.
  22. ^ Steverman, Ben (September 14, 2011). "Creative Employee Benefits". Bloomberg. Retrieved 25 June 2012.
  23. ^ Sustainability Benefits Program Archived 2010-09-22 at the Wayback Machine
  24. ^ Aspen Skiing, Clif Bar, and Seventh Generation Strengthen BICEP Climate Coalition Climate Biz. April 16, 2009.
  25. ^ "Mars, General Mills, Unilever, Kellogg, Nestlé Unite On Climate Action". Consumer Goods Technology. Retrieved 27 October 2015.
  26. ^ Take Action Archived 2012-03-05 at the Wayback Machine
  27. ^ [2]
  28. ^ Clif Bar sells 20% stake to workers San Francisco Business Times. June 29, 2010.
  29. ^ How Clif Bar is Saving Retirement through CSR Archived 2016-09-10 at the Wayback Machine Triple Pundit. July 9, 2010.
  30. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-07-06. Retrieved 2014-07-09.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  31. ^ Best Places to Work: Clif Bar and Company Archived 2010-09-05 at the Wayback Machine Outside Magazine. May 2010.
  32. ^ Best Places to Work Archived 2010-09-19 at the Wayback Machine Outside Magazine. May 2009.
  33. ^ The 50 Best Places to Work in America Outside Magazine. April 6, 2010
  34. ^ Madden, Kaitlin It’s Take Your Dog to Work Day June 25, 2010.
  35. ^ THE 30 BEST PLACES TO WORK: CLIF BAR [3] August 12, 2012
  36. ^ Clif Bar's Response: A Letter to the Climbing Community
  37. ^ Eisenberg, Richard. "How Clif Bar Helps Employees Do Good In Retirement". Forbes. Retrieved 2018-09-19.
  38. ^ Giving Back is a Key Ingredient Clif Blog.
  39. ^ Project 2080
  40. ^ "In Good Company". Cliff Bar & Company. Retrieved 25 June 2012.

External links[edit]