10 to Watch 2015: Pomme Natural Market

“Our indicators for success are the differences we make in the lives of our customers and in the communities that we serve. One of our mantras is ‘a better world through better food.’”

Photograph by Gregg Eligh.

What do you do when you can’t find a service you want? If you’ve got an entrepreneurial drive, you create it yourself. 

Pomme Natural Market was born out of a dissatisfaction with the conventional grocery experience. Pomme’s four founders — David Arnsdorf, Craig Hermanson, Ed Low and Rasool Rayani — all have young families and were looking for a better selection and an increased availability of healthy foods.

“The idea of being involved in a business that promoted a healthy lifestyle and made it more widely available to people was pretty compelling,” Arnsdorf says. “Our business model is to offer everything that a conventional grocer would, but in an organic or all-natural format, with an eye on ecological responsibility and sustainability.”

Since opening their first location last year, a 16,000-square-foot store in Port Coquitlam, the company has rapidly expanded, with locations in Vancouver and Nanaimo, and a warehouse and head office team in Victoria.

The four partners agree that one of the biggest challenges in setting up their business was the recruitment of qualified, knowledgeable staff in a very specialized industry. It’s a task they’ve met well with their 100-plus team.

“We’re blessed with having staff who are very passionate about the natural and organic products we sell, even choosing [products] for themselves and their families,” Rayani says. “And that makes them more credible ambassadors for us and our customers.”

Q&A with the owners of Pomme

What advice would you give to someone starting out?

Rasool: Build a great team: identify and look for people who complement your own skills, and look for the best possible talent you can find.

David: Knowing your numbers is critical. It’s not as sexy as some of the other things you do when you’re building your business but it’s fundamental to its ultimate success.

Ed: One of the lessons my dad taught me has worked well for me: Keep your word to your suppliers, to your staff and to your customers, because your word is everything.

Craig: Be sure you understand your customer and that your business is viable. Everybody loves their own ideas and forgets that not everybody else is going to.

Pomme Business Profile

Type of business: Natural and organic grocery retailer

Year founded: 2014

Owners/principals: David Arnsdorf, Craig Hermanson, Ed Low and Rasool Rayani

Employees: 100

What sets you apart? We’re exclusively organic and natural, and we try to have a really well-curated offering in the store.

This article is from the April/May 2015 issue of Douglas.