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A year of change for employee-owned Gardener’s Supply

Read the full story at Vermont Business Magazine 

“2018 was a transformative year for us,” says Cindy Turcot, one of the original employees and now President of Burlington-based Gardener’s Supply Company. A national retailer, Gardener’s Supply is one of Vermont’s best-known companies, a leader in the socially-responsible business community, and 100 percent employee-owned through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). Part of what made 2018 exciting at the company were some major changes: a reorganization of leadership, acquisition of Longacres Nursery Center in Lebanon, NH, and its grand reopening as Gardener’s Supply’s third retail location, and, last but not least, recognition as the national ESOP Company of the Year.

That award was announced in May in Washington DC during The ESOP Association’s Annual Conference by Association President Michael Keeling who described Gardener’s Supply as “a prime example of an ESOP company that actively engages its employee owners, the employee ownership community, and elected officials at the state and federal levels. Its commitment to sharing with others the power of ESOPs is an example all ESOP companies can proudly seek to replicate.”

The depth of the ownership culture at Gardener’s Supply is partly explained by the fact that its ESOP was introduced by founder Will Raap in 1987, when the company was only a few years old. Most ESOPs are created later in a company’s life, as a means of buying out a retiring owners’ shares, but the main purpose of the ESOP at Gardener’s Supply was shared ownership. Raap wanted employees to have a direct connection to the work they do and the value they receive for that work, believing that if they have ownership in the company, the happier and more productive all would be. Through the ESOP, employees receive annual distributions of company stock in their ESOP retirement accounts and thereby share in the wealth created by the company.

Read the full story at Vermont Business Magazine: