The CEO of Amy's Kitchen likes veggie burgers, sure, but why so many cell phones?
Occupation: CEO and co-founder of Amy's Kitchen, one of the largest makers of frozen and canned vegetarian food. Amy's product line contains more than 100 different dishes, including soy cheese pizza, tofu-vegetable lasagna, and Indian mattar paneer. And, because this is Inc.'s barbecue special, we feel compelled to mention the company's four varieties of veggie burgers.
Annual revenue and employees: $250 million; 800. Age and home: 58; Petaluma, Calif.
Veggie tales: Berliner and his wife, Rachel, were longtime vegetarians and new parents when they founded the company in 1987. Frustrated by a lack of vegetarian TV dinners at their local supermarket, the Berliners began making and testing recipes at home. A frozen vegetable pot pie was their first product. The couple named the company after their baby daughter, Amy, who is now 17 years old.
Organic office: Berliner keeps extra chairs in his office but no computer. And he refuses to use e-mail. "I'd rather have a good conversation than any number of e-mails," he says.
Oregon Trail: Amy's Kitchen recently chose to set up another plant in Oregon. Upon hearing the news, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger called Berliner and asked him to put the new plant in California. But the CEO said hasta la vista. Oregon's lower utility rates, abundant water, and lower cost of living won him over.
Things I Can't Live Without
Three cell phones -- Nokia 6015i ($170), Motorola V60i ($250), Nokia 9500 Communicator ($769): "I'm mobile. I carry one in my pocket, keep one in my car, and use one as a scheduler and contacts database. I've had all three going at once and put everyone on speakerphone."
Donald Takayama Noah Ka Oi surfboard ($860): "I love to be near the water. I grew up in Chicago right on Lake Michigan. I go through phases in California where I surf a ton. When I do, this is my favorite ride."
New Balance sneakers ($129 a pair):
"I can't go on a diet when I'm running this company because there's a tasting every day -- sometimes as many as 10 in one day. Lucky for me, I spend my time walking around visiting with the staff and walking back and forth between my office and the tasting lab."
... and What I Covet
A trip around the world for four (about $28,000): "I'd like to take three friends on a trip to some natural, some spiritual, and some historic places around the world. Finding the time will be harder than figuring out all of the places I want to go."