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Good Business

How to Cash Out of a Small Business Without Selling Out

Founders of purpose-driven companies are setting up trusts to protect their values when they step aside.

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Illustration: C. W. Moss for Bloomberg Businessweek

Sitting outside the Grand Central Bakery in the Beaumont-Wilshire neighborhood of Portland, Oregon, Chief Executive Officer Claire Randall examines her latte. “Ooh, look!” she says, pointing to a rosetta pattern in the foam. She’s still impressed with the barista artistry after almost 30 years with the company.

While Grand Central is known for its coffee and fresh baked goods, the company’s progressive values and commitment to community are equally important to Randall and her five co-owners. For example, its 11 cafes and two production facilities in Portland and Seattle use carbon-neutral milk and avoid imported, water-intensive avocados. The business relies on local and sustainable farms, offers above-average salaries and benefits and donates a portion of sales to social causes.