Natural Products  April 26, 2013

Success comes naturally for Alfalfa’s co-founder Retzloff

2013 Boulder County Business Hall of Fame

BOULDER — Mark Retzloff is considered an icon of the local natural-foods industry, serving as a co-founder of Alfalfa’s Market grocery store and Horizon Organic Dairy and as chairman of Rudi’s Organic Bakery LLC.

He’s perhaps best-known as co-founder and chairman of Alfalfa’s in the early 1980s. The natural and organic grocery chain merged with Wild Oats Markets Inc. in 1996 and subsequently was purchased by Whole Foods Markets Inc. for an estimated $565 million.

After Retzloff co-founded Horizon Organic Dairy in Boulder in the early 1990s, he served as its chairman and chief executive. He also was chairman of Rudi’s Organic Bakery LLC in Boulder. In 2003, Retzloff co-founded Aurora Organic Dairy Holdings LLC in Boulder, where he continues to sit on the board of directors.

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In 2010, Retzloff and his business partners purchased the site of the original Alfalfa’s at the southwest corner of Broadway and Arapahoe Avenue. The store was re-opened on Earth Day — April 22, 2011 — and now has about 100 employees. Its owners are working on opening a second location in Louisville.

Linnea Simons, a co-founder of the Naturally Boulder industry trade group with Retzloff, called him a man who “walks his talk,” running businesses with integrity and community-minded spirit. Retzloff sits on the advisory board of the local, member-run trade group.

Others who have worked with Retzloff call him a great mentor and leader. Colleague and nominator Sonja Tuitele called Retzloff a “visionary.”

“Mark is a true pioneer in the global natural and organic products industry and lends his deep experience starting and growing companies to many sectors of the Boulder community — business, nonprofit and the university,” said Tuitele, director of communications at Aurora Organic Dairy and a board member of Naturally Boulder.

Retzloff also has a great knack for hiring the right people, said Victoria Hartman, executive vice president at Madhava Natural Sweeteners in Lyons and also is a board member of Naturally Boulder.

“I’m always amazed at the amount of time he will give to our members to work on a new idea, or to make introductions. He’s just always available,” Hartman said.

Retzloff lends his knowledge as a board member and adviser to emerging companies locally and nationally. He also is a founding partner at Boulder-based Greenmont Capital Partners venture capital firm. He sits on the board of The Organic Center, a national trade group based in Washington, D.C., as well as RSF Social Finance, a nonprofit financial group based in San Francisco. In Boulder, he also has served on many local nonprofit boards over the years, including Community Food Share, Growing Gardens and Shining Mountain Waldorf School.

Retzloff received his bachelor’s degree in environmental studies from the University of Michigan and sits on several boards at the school. In Boulder, he serves on the boards at the University of Colorado’s Deming Center for Entrepreneurship, and the Center for Education and Social Responsibility at the Leeds School of Business.

BOULDER — Mark Retzloff is considered an icon of the local natural-foods industry, serving as a co-founder of Alfalfa’s Market grocery store and Horizon Organic Dairy and as chairman of Rudi’s Organic Bakery LLC.

He’s perhaps best-known as co-founder and chairman of Alfalfa’s in the early 1980s. The natural and organic grocery chain merged with Wild Oats Markets Inc. in 1996 and subsequently was purchased by Whole Foods Markets Inc. for an estimated $565 million.

After Retzloff co-founded Horizon Organic Dairy in Boulder in the early 1990s, he served as its chairman and chief executive. He also was chairman of Rudi’s Organic…

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