Converted to Employee OwnershipCooperative Development InstituteCooperative Fund of New EnglandDemocracy at Work InstituteLandscapingMassachusetts

A Yard and a Half Landscaping Cooperative, Waltham MA

At a glance

  • Location: Waltham, MA
  • Industry: Landscaping
  • Number of employees: 35
  • Conversion date: 2014

Professional support from

  • Cooperative Fund of New England


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Conversion Story

In January 2014, 11 worker-owners took over the operations of A Yard and A Half Landscaping, an organic landscaping company based in Waltham, Massachusetts. The company was founded in 1988 by Eileen Michaels. This cooperative ownership transition was a major milestone for the company. It represented the fulfillment of a vision that had been growing for five years, and that was carried out by owner and staff over the course of 12 months of sustained efforts. The conversion has equipped the company to carry on the vision of its founder and build the wealth of the employees for years to come, while rewarding Eileen’s entrepreneurship and providing for her retirement.

In successfully completing the ownership transition, the cooperative has overcome many key challenges that owners face in selling their business to their employees. These challenges include:
  • Finding training materials culturally appropriate to the El Salvadorian worker-owners who compose the new cooperative
  • Finding support professionals to assist in the transition
  • Creating clear channels of communication between leadership and employees that are engaging and provide accurate information
  • Disentangling the selling owner from the business

The conversion has also demonstrated two of the key benefits created by transitions to cooperative ownership. First, the owner and the community are rewarded, because the owner’s vision outlasts their actual possession of the business. Second, both the employees and the enterprise benefit from by empowering worker-owners at every level of the company. The success of this conversion also demonstrates the importance of culturally appropriate communication and participatory management practices in facilitating a smooth ownership transition.


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