Main | Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Improvements At Bolthouse Farms

Bolthouse Farms has been working on improving their reputation with the LGBT community ever since word broke that the company's founder donated $100K to support Proposition 8. Company officials stressed that William Bolthouse no longer owns the company, but a nationwide boycott and protests outside of Bolthouse resellers ensued.

From a Bolthouse Farms press release:
-In March, William Bolthouse Jr., through his personal foundation, made a contribution of $100,000 to, a group behind Proposition 8, the proposed constitutional ban on same-sex marriage that is set to appear on the California November ballot.
-Mr. Bolthouse’s personal actions are not related to Bolthouse Farms, the consumer products farming company, in any way.
-Bolthouse Farms had no knowledge of Mr. Bolthouse’s donation until it was made public on June 3.
-Mr. Bolthouse is president of the Bolthouse Foundation, a privately held and operated philanthropic Christian organization whose ownership, purpose, direction, and management is completely separate and distinct from that of Bolthouse Farms.
-Mr. Bolthouse’s ownership and involvement with Bolthouse Farms ceased in December of 2005, when he sold his interest in the company to Madison Dearborn Partners, a Chicago based private equity firm. Madison Dearborn Partners currently owns 72% of the company.
-Andre and Lisa Radandt currently own a 28% minority interest in Bolthouse Farms, and are the only family members who retain ownership in the company. Andre Randadt is currently non executive chairman of the company.
-Andre and Lisa Radandt are not involved in the Bolthouse Foundation. They left the board of The Bolthouse Foundation in 2007 and have not had any involvement whatsoever with The Bolthouse Foundation since that time.
-The Bolthouse Foundation does not receive financial support or benefit from the profits of Bolthouse Farms.
-At the time of the sale of Bolthouse Farms to Madison Dearborn Partners in 2005, the land holdings of the Bolthouse Family were split off from Bolthouse Farms and put into a separate real estate holding company, Bolthouse Properties, which was not part of the sale. Bolthouse Farms leases farm land from Bolthouse Properties under a long term lease as it does from many property holders in Bakersfield and other growing regions. Bolthouse Properties represents a small percentage of the total land on which Bolthouse Farms grows carrots and the lease structure was fixed at the time of the sale and is no way subject to change due to performance of Bolthouse Farms.
-Bolthouse Farms neither supports, tracks, nor in any way influences or condones the activities of the Bolthouse Foundation.
LGBT activist Lane Hudson has been advising Bolthouse Farms for the last month. From his email to me listing improvements that Bolthouse has made internally:
"Bolthouse Farms sponsored the NGLTF LA Awards Brunch as a Gold Sponsor and the CEO personally contributed $5K to their No on 8 work. Bolthouse Farms was also a corporate table sponsor of the HRC National Dinner.

"In addition, they have clarified their non-discrimination policy to include sexual orientation. They also clarified their benefits policy to include dependent children of same sex relationships. They also edited their website, corporate philosophy and corporate mission to reflect what a consumer products company should be. It's a great deal of progress since the new CEO took the reigns a mere 12 weeks ago and since I began advising him a month ago."
From what I can see, Bolthouse Farms has done just about everything possible to correct a situation that was beyond their control. Kudos to them and to Lane Hudson. Punishing the company any further seems fruitless to me.

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