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Brad Gruno, 54, Bucks County, PA
Lightbulb moment: After the 2001 dot-com crash, Gruno, a former telecommunications executive, found himself out of work, overweight, and depressed. To get his life back on track, he moved back home to Pennsylvania, where he began to frequent a raw food restaurant. After learning more about the raw food lifestyle, Gruno decided to adopt a 100-percent raw diet. Within three months, he shed 40 pounds. "I started to glow, and I felt so great and clear," he says. While Gruno loved eating raw, he missed the crunch and texture of his old diet, so he dehydrated raw vegetables in his garage to make chips. In 2009, Gruno started selling the chips at a local farmers' market, then expanded to four more markets and later a local grocery store. In 2010, he began selling his products to Whole Foods Markets nationwide, and since then Brad's Raw Foods has grown exponentially into the $15-million-a-year business it is today.
What's in a name: Gruno settled on using his first name for the company because it sounds "common and wholesome," he says. His sister, an artist, hand-carved a stamp with the brand's logo, which has kept the same look since.
Up next: In addition to his signature raw veggie chips, crackers, and dog treats (made from leftover kale stems), Brad's Raw Foods just launched a new line of onion rings. Next January Gruno is publishing a book about the "80/20" lifestyle he follows: "I eat raw salads, green juices, and smoothies 80 percent of the time, but otherwise I just eat what I want, within reason," he explains. Gruno is also currently scouting locations for a new factory, which he envisions as a production plant and an educational facility. "I have a big vision for the company—I believe we can be the leaders in the raw food industry," he says.
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