Paragon Company: CLIF Bar

In 1990, Gary Erickson set off on a one-day, 175-mile bicycle ride with his buddy Jay. As usual, he packed six energy bars from the only energy bar brand on the market at the time. Halfway through the day, Gary realized he simply couldn’t stomach another sticky, unappetizing, hard-to-digest bar. Then and there, at a moment he now calls “the epiphany,” the inspiration for the CLIF Bar was born.

Clif Bar Founder Gary Ericson. Photo courtesy CLIF Bar.
CLIF Bar Founder Gary Erickson. Photo courtesy CLIF Bar.

Gary owned a bakery at the time and knew that good food could only come from using high-quality nutritious ingredients. So the idea for a new kind of energy bar went from the drawing board to his mom’s kitchen where the first CLIF Bar was baked using wholesome ingredients. Named after his father Clifford – who introduced the young Gary to wilderness adventures – the CLIF Bar included an energizing combination of carbohydrates, fiber and protein made with whole grains, fruit and vitamins and minerals. It was introduced to the public in 1992.

The CLIF Bar was an instant hit with cyclists and climbers. Distribution began humbly in bike shops, outdoor stores and natural food markets, but its popularity grew among outdoor adventure seekers of all types. CLIF Bar & Company has been in Canada since 1996.

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In response to the demand for on-the-go foods, Clif Bar & Company has since developed many other varieties, including CLIF Builder’s and CLIF MOJO.

CLIF Bar’s vision has always been bigger than the bar. Today, the family- and employee-owned company is on a journey toward long-term sustainability, exploring ways to help keep people, the planet, and local communities healthy for generations to come. By using organically grown ingredients, they help keep harmful pesticides and synthetic fertilizers out of the environment and our bodies. Organic produces less pollution and helps create nutrient-rich soil and increases biodiversity.

CLIF Bar HQ. Photo courtesy
CLIF Bar HQ. Photo courtesy

In 2010, the company reduced its ecological footprint by moving into a new solar-powered headquarters. The company also supports the construction of wind farms through its carbon offset purchases, features in-house recycling and compost programs, uses non-toxic inks and recycled paper for its print collateral, and uses recycled paperboard for the cartons that hold the bars on store shelves, and CLIF sustains its employees by creating a healthy workplace that has been nationally recognized. Employees have access to an onsite fitness center and personal trainers, child care, salon services, car washes and organic produce delivery. They can also take part in a flexible workweek, volunteer opportunities during the workday, a sabbatical program, financial assistance for first-time home buyers and a dependent care assistance program.

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In addition to wellness programs, CLIF employees can receive up to $6,500 (taxed) of financial assistance for the purchase of a biodiesel or hybrid vehicle; up to $500 for the purchase of a commuter bicycle; and up to $1,000 towards eco-friendly improvements to their homes. Employees who take public transportation, carpool, walk or bike to work also receive incentives in the form of commuter checks, gift certificates and other rewards. Any openings, CLIF? We want to work there…

CLIF Bar is a partner of Revelstoke, BC’s Eagle Pass Heliski.