By Gregory Daurer | Feb 21, 2022
Heber City, Utah
Salt and clay products
Bosshardt earns his salary in the salt business. The company he works for, Redmond Life, sells four different grinds of salt, salt-based seasonings, electrolyte mixes, and even toothpaste incorporating salt. Bosshardt says, "Our products are available in most health food stores nationwide -- all of your Whole Foods, your Natural Grocers, your Vitamin Cottages, as well as online through Amazon and [other] retailers."
As Bosshardt is keen to point out, the word "salary" derives, appropriately enough, from the word "salt" -- originating back when Roman soldiers received valuable, life-preserving saline as payment. Hence the term "worth your salt" came about in reference to someone's work performance.
Bosshardt grew up learning all about salt. There's the geology of it, especially in Utah: The deposit which lies underneath his family's land was the result of a sea bottom which existed back when dinosaurs roamed the earth. Bosshardt sometimes refers to Redmond Life's staple product as "Jurassic-age salt."
And then there's the Bosshardt family history: Back in 1958, his businessman grandfather, Milo, and his miner great-uncle, Lamar, went into the salt trade together, after drought led to an unproductive season working the family farm. Although they didn't have a successful crop that year, they had salt underneath their property -- and Native Americans and later settlers to the valley had known of its existence. "They knew the salt was [under the land] by watching the animals pawing and eating the [salt] at the surface," says Bosshardt.
With an initial business loan of $50,000, the Bosshardt brothers bought a bulldozer -- and, over the years, lots and lots of dynamite. Today, the company's underground mine measures a quarter-mile wide and three miles long. And there's no danger of running out of product any time soon: The salt goes about 5,000 feet deep.
At first, the Bosshardt brothers sold their salt to farmers for their livestock to consume. And they sold it to municipalities for melting snow and ice on roads. But during the health food boom in the 1970s, Darryl Bosshardt says a writer toured the family's mine and tried their salt. Unbeknownst to the family, he wrote in a health journal about how the Bosshardt brothers' salt would be ideal on the table "because of its mineral content, lack of processing, and the fact that its source is an ancient sea," according to Darryl.
When the family began unexpectedly fielding calls from a new type of customer for their salt, they soon began selling it to health food stores cropping up across America. Then, after people began asking for seasoning mixes incorporating the salt, the company began selling those as well. And there were electrolyte mixes desired by firefighters, roofers, runners -- while, more recently, people who need additional salt as a result of a keto diet or intermittent fasting have become customers for the company's Re-Lyte products.
Bosshardt often highlights the health benefits of salt -- that is, when ingested in moderation, not supersaturated within processed foods, and not stripped of important minerals and filled with additives. "Our bodies are literally saline solution in motion," he says.
Today, under the direction of CEO Rhett Roberts -- who bought the company circa 2000 -- Redmond Life earns close to $100 million annually off its products and its mining. "Our sales through COVID have actually increased," says Bosshardt, who officially joined the company in 2005 after working in economic development for the State of Utah.
Redmond Life produces some products in-house at its 40,000-square-foot facility in Heber City, and others -- like the toothpaste and some of the electrolyte mixes -- are contract manufactured for the business. The company continues to sell tons of salt for use in agriculture, as well as for snow removal, which is mined and milled in the town of Redmond as well. And Redmond Life supplies outside food businesses, including such customers as Route 11 Potato Chips, Hilary's, Xochitl Chips and Salsa, and Clif Bar.
Bosshardt describes the salt's natural hue as "a light rose-quartz or a flecked-pink type of color," and its effect on the palate as "more of a sweet salt flavor." That's a result of the additional trace minerals in the salt, besides just sodium and chloride, he adds. Additionally, the salt was formed long before there were plastic microbeads, oil spills, and pharmaceutical residues polluting the ocean. Salt from France often has a grayish color, while salt from Hawaii has a reddish hue, a direct result of the type of clay lining the leaching ponds used to extract the salt -- and oftentimes other trace minerals -- out of ocean or sea water. Redmond Life sells its own variety under the brand name "Real Salt."
Bosshardt points out how the company has boomed since the days it consisted solely of his grandfather and great uncle, now providing jobs for 400 people. Keeping those two relatives of his in mind, he says, "If they could see where the company's gone -- and how many lives have been impacted -- I think it would be pretty special for them."
Challenges: "I think, long-term, our challenge will be finding the right people and enough of the right people to join our team," says Bosshardt.
Opportunities: "New products," which the company can add its health-minded touch to developing, says Bosshardt. "Whether that's jerky or chips or healthy snacks or more sports and nutrition products, I think that's where the real opportunity is."
Needs: It's "passionate people" who share "our core values," says Bosshardt.