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Frontier Timeline

The original Frontier cabin1976

Frontier begins as two-person operation
Frontier started out offering difficult-to-find herbs, spices and botanicals to local co-ops.


Frontier day careEstablish $1/hr childcare subsidy and employee lunch program
These two early employee benefits set the tone for three decades of family-friendly and innovative benefits for Frontier workers. As we grew, these evolved into award-winning subsidized on-site childcare, gym and cafeteria (now organic) facilities, while creative services like a computer purchase plan and at-work haircuts and car care round out a generous traditional package of benefits. We believe a company that creates, produces, and markets wholesome, natural foods and personal care products should also focus on workplace policies and practices that promote personal well-being.

Add first organic products to line
Frontier was an early leader in promoting organic products and the environmental and social benefits of organic agriculture. We have held that position of leadership throughout our 30-year history. We were the first to offer organic herbs and spices and first to be certified as an organic processor. We have provided ongoing support of the organic industry and organic agriculture worldwide with programs like the donation of 1% of Simply Organic sales to organic farming causes. We offer the industry's widest selection of organic botanical products for herbal, culinary and aromatherapy uses, and increasing the use of organic products worldwide is a key aspect of Frontier's mission—and the motivation for a new program to develop reliable and socially responsible suppliers of high-quality organics from around the world.

Buy 5,200 sq. ft. grocery store in Fairfax, Iowa, and convert into operations facility

Begin bottling essential oils in response to store requests

Other manufacturer's products1979

Begin selling other manufacturer's products in response to store requests

Incorporate as cooperative owned by customers


Return first patronage refund
As a co-op, Frontier returns profits to its member/owners in the form of patronage refunds. Since the first check was sent out in March 1980, Frontier has returned almost $7 million dollars to members.

Implement computerized order systems

Frontier's first board of director's1981

Elect Frontier's first Board of Director's


Purchase 10 acres near Norway, Iowa and build 22,152 sq. ft. facility


inc magazineFrontier listed 78th on Inc. magazine's list of "America's Fastest Growing Companies"

Establish subsidized on-site childcare and cafeteria

Produce 135-page Herb & Spice handbook


Expand Norway facilities to 31,992 sq. ft.

Change by-laws to allow non-co-operative stores to be Frontier members


Purchase first personal computers

usda organic certification1986

Become first herb and spice manufacturer with certified organic processing


Introduce line of packaged spices in response to consumer demand

Purchase additional 46 acres adjoining Norway site and expand facilities to 37,824 sq. ft.


Introduce CO2 fumigation
Frontier was the first in the Natural Products Industry to use a natural CO2 process to control infestation in herbs and spices. This natural process allows us to avoid the use of chemical fumigants and provide greater purity in our products.

Expand Norway facilities to 57,360 sq. ft.

launch bottled spices1990

Start Frontier Research Farm for testing and developing methods of organic agriculture.

Launch line of bottled spices.


Introduce line of herbal extracts

Introduce Frontier Coffee, a line of gourmet, 100% organic coffee


tall grass prairieRe-establish tall grass prairie on 21 acres of Norway site.

Introduce cryogenic grinding to preserve product quality in processing

Begin selling Frontier products through natural food distributors

frontier herbfestHost first Herbfest
Frontier hosted 13 HerbFest conferences. HerbFest was the country's largest annual conference on herbs and sustainable living, drawing as many as 1,425 participants each August to the Frontier site in Norway, Iowa. Recognized experts from around the country and the world led hundreds of seminars on natural living that were attended by people from all over the United States.

Frontier CEO Rick Stewart receives Iowa Small Business Person of the Year Award


botanical garden at norway siteCreate botanical garden at Norway site

Working Mother magazine picks Frontier as one of the "100 Best Companies in America for working Mothers"

Introduce organic Frontier beer

Expand Norway facilities to 86,076 sq. ft

working mother magazine1994

Working Mother magazine again picks Frontier as one of the "100 Best Companies in America for working Mothers"

Establish Frontier Coffee social programs

Build coffee roasting facility in Urbana, Iowa

aura cacia pure aromatherapyBuy Aura Cacia Aromatherapy brand


working mother magazineLaunch first line of certified organic essential oils
Another example of organic leadership, with Frontier using the expertise gained in sourcing organic herbs and spices to bring the first organic line of essential oils to the marketplace. Just as Frontier's early promotion of organic botanicals helped create the market for organics, this cutting-edge move into organic essential oils set new standards and built support for organic growth in aromatherapy.

Launch first Frontier web site

Distill basil essential oil in conjunction with Purdue University

For the third consecutive year, Working Mother magazine picks Frontier as one of the "100 Best Companies in America for working Mothers"


Establish Goldenseal Project
The Goldenseal Project was created by Frontier to encourage the development of cultivated sources of goldenseal to counteract overharvesting of the plant's native populations. We converted all of our goldenseal to domestically grown, funded and conducted research and training to increase the number of commercial growers, and informed consumers about the threat to goldenseal populations and about more plentiful alternative herbs with properties similar to goldenseal.

the goldenseal projectAura Cacia begins in-house Gas Chromatography testing program
The expansion of Frontier's in-house quality testing program to include gas chromatography testing for all oils allowed us to achieve a new level of control and make a truly meaningful guarantee of quality and purity. Our industry-leading quality-testing program with GC allows us to determine the chemical composition of oils to a greater degree of accuracy than other methods allow.


Move marketing office to Boulder, Colorado

natural products expo west


Frontier given "Socially Responsible Business Award" by Natural Products Expo

Create herb preserve and research farm in Meigs county, Ohio
Frontier purchased 68 acres in the Appalachian region of Ohio and founded the National Center for the Preservation of Medicinal Herbs (NCPMH) to preserve native populations of at-risk herbs and research methods of cultivating them to counter the effects of overharvesting. All results of the Center's research were made available to the public for free. The Center was donated to the community group Rural Action in 2002.

facility expansion1999

Founder and CEO Rick Stewart retires

Expand Norway facilities to present total of 115,248 sq. ft.


Hire Steve Hughes as CEO


donate ncpmh to Rural ActionIntroduce Simply Organic, 100% organic line of spices, seasonings, flavors, mixes and boxed dinners.
The Simply Organic brand is Frontier's most ambitious effort to date to increasing the reach of organics with affordable, convenient culinary products that fit the modern lifestyle. Simply Organic's top quality, full-flavored organic spices, seasonings, mixes and baking flavors are priced to encourage converting from conventional spices. The increasing appetite of consumers for organic seasonings is reflected in the dominance of Simply Organic in market data each quarter.

Sell Frontier Coffee to Green Mountain Coffee


Donate NCPMH to Rural Action

Organic certification regulations go into effect (Frontier already in full compliance)

Eliminate share money requirement for members

CEO Steve Hughes resigns.
Board creates committee to assume day-to-day operational control and rehires previous key managers. Return executive and management functions to Norway, Iowa


Hire Tony Bedard as CEO

Move Aura Cacia to former coffee facility in Urbana, Iowa

Sell boxed dinner portion of Simply Organic to Annie's


Adopt mission "To convert the world to natural and organic products"
The recent adoption of this new mission statement by management and the board of directors re-confirms the 30-year commitment Frontier has shown to promote and provide natural and organic products—and supports bold and ambitious efforts to develop new sources of natural and organic products around the world and create new products that will broaden the appeal of these alternatives in every marketplace.

fair trade teasBegin offering Fair Trade teas
We are proud to offer our selection of premium fair trade certified organic loose leaf teas. Fair Trade certification ensures standards are met for wages, living conditions and working conditions for tea pickers.

Establish Frontier wholesale web site with online ordering
As when we implemented computerized order systems in 1980, Frontier is quick to embrace new technology and utilize it to better serve our customers. The new wholesale web site offers a new level of ordering convenience, and it provides valuable information resources. As we steadily expand and enhance our online service, we expect it to grow in importance to our customers. Over $2 million of sales have been placed on the wholesale site since it went online in September 2004.

Achieve record sales and profitability.


Well Earth programEstablish Well Earth program to develop high quality and socially responsible suppliers around the world
Frontier's Well Earth program was created to proactively find and develop high-quality and socially responsible organic suppliers around the world and partner with them in producing products and implementing social programs. Our first Well Earth partner is an Indian vanilla supplier that offers workers unusually good job opportunities and pay and contributes to feeding disadvantaged schoolchildren throughout India. Well Earth is a valuable tool in providing our customers with products of the very highest quality and integrity.

Establish Aura Cacia's Online Aromatherapy Retailer Training

$43.4 million in sales leads to record year in sales and profitability

Achieve new records in market share for aromatherapy and spice products


Celebrate our 30th anniversary!


Fair TradeIntroduce line of Fair Trade Certified gluten-free baking mixes
Simply Organic developed baking mixes with organic and ethically sourced ingredients to meet the needs of those embracing the growing health trend of gluten-free foods.

Publish our first Sustainability Report
This annual public document gives those outside the company an accurate and complete overview of our sustainability performance — and provides focus and motivation for improvement to those inside the company.

Complete construction of a 30,000 sq. ft. "green" warehousing facility addition in Norway

Attain AIB "Superior" rating
Frontier received a "Superior" rating — the highest rating for an AIB-certified food production facility — following a safety audit and onsite inspection by AIB International food safety and hygiene experts.


AIBBegin Frontier's Well Earth sourcing program
The Well Earth sustainable sourcing program was started to find and develop partnerships with ethical sources of high quality botanical products from around the world. Grants to Well Earth partners support skill development, training in organic production, operational improvements, and community development.

Create Frontier's first social media pages


Introduce the first Fair Trade Certified spices in U.S.
Frontier was the first company in the U.S. to offer Fair Trade Certified organic spices to consumers and ingredient manufacturers, supporting marginalized spice producers for whom Fair Trade social premiums provide the opportunity of a better way of life.

Scholarship UCSCEstablish SO1% Scholarship
The Frontier Foundation and Simply Organic 1% Fund established a perpetual scholarship to the University of California Santa Cruz Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems. The scholarship annually pays full tuition for a participant in the full-time, six-month program of Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture at the Center, the premier sustainable and organic training program in the U.S.

Send Frontier company band "Aeroroot" to perform at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Aeroroot, a rock band made up of Frontier employees that had made its debut just four years earlier at Frontier's annual holiday party, advanced to the finals of Fortune magazine's Battle of the Corporate Bands at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio.


Implement natural steam sterilization
Frontier became the first U.S. manufacturer to use a new steam sterilization process with a highly controlled program of steam injection and vacuums that is optimized for each product. The innovative organic and natural process ensures food safety by eliminating pathogens while maintaining flavor and aroma.


North LibertyPurchase 100,000 square foot facility in North Liberty
The purchase and renovation of a warehouse facility on main highways in nearby (27 miles from Norway) North Liberty allowed for the expansion of receiving, processing and Quality Assurance without further new construction at the Norway site.

LEED certification for Norway renovation
The conversion of our Norway facility's existing warehouse space to offices, organic café and product development lab earned LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver certification. The certification, established by the U.S. Green Building Council, was awarded for Frontier's sustainable use of energy, water and materials and other sustainable practices.


Achieve SQF "Excellent" rating for North Liberty facility
A Safe Quality Food (SQF) audit of our North Liberty facility resulted in a score of 96% — a rating of "Excellent," the highest rating level awarded by SQF, a global food safety certifier.

Madagascar SchoolAura Cacia Organic 1% Fund Builds School in Madagascar
One percent of all Aura Cacia organic sales are given back to support organic farmers and their communities. The first project using funds from the Aura Cacia Organic 1% Fund was building a preschool near the village of Ambohimena, Madagascar, for the children of families who pick organic ylang ylang flowers for our Well Earth partner there.

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