At a glance
- Location: Waltham, MA
- Industry: Landscaping
- Number of employees: 35
- Conversion date: 2014
Professional support from
- Cooperative Fund of New England
- DAWI et al – Successful Cooperative Ownership Transitions – Yard and a Half Landscaping
- Project Equity – Financing Case Study: A Yard & A Half Landscaping
- Shelterforce – The Next Boom for Worker Co-ops?
- Edsall-Vetter – Introducing A Yard & A Half Landscaping Cooperative
- Edsall-Vetter – Considering Cooperatives: Democratic Workplaces & Succession Planning
- Agaric – An evening of cooperatives and a half
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.
- 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.