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Pipersville raw-food convert's business making vegetable-based snacks plans to hire 30

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Brad Gruno lost his fiber optic cable installation business in the dot-com bust and moved from Georgia to his native Bucks County. His next business idea came in 2007 after his aunt took a cooking class at a Lansdale café specializing in raw food – for the uninitiated, food that hasn't been cooked or processed.

Gruno switched to a raw diet, lost 40 pounds and felt healthier than he ever had. "Within a month, I felt so much better," he says. "I slept better than I ever slept in my life." But he missed eating crunchy snacks, so in 2008 he started baking vegetables into chips.

After teaming up with a salsa purveyor he met at a green living convention in Philadelphia and selling his chips at farmers' markets for a year, snacks made by Brad's Raw Foods are for sale in specialty groceries, Whole Foods Market and Wegmans supermarkets, mostly along the East Coast from the New York City to Washington, D.C. areas.

His business in Pipersville, between Philadelphia and Bethlehem, pulls in about $5 million annually. Brad's Raw Foods employs 50 people who make chips and crackers from ingredients like kale, buckwheat and sun-dried tomatoes.
In January the company moved into a 14,000-square foot factory to support the growing number of orders it has received. Gruno expects to hire another 30 people over the next eight months. He also plans to open the new building for community programs, including workshops on raw food.

The company is looking for angel investors and hopes to expand its geographic presence. "I want to become a national brand," Gruno says. "I want to get out into Chicago and Dallas and Houston and out west."

Source: Brad Gruno, Brad's Raw Foods
Writer: Rebecca VanderMeulen
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