It’s rare for anyone to stay at a job for 31 years. It’s even more rare for that person to get up in the morning, feeling she cannot wait to get into the office. Gardener’s Supply Company is that sort of workplace. And a big reason why, says Cindy Turcot, Chief Operations Officer (COO) of America’s Gardening Resource, the parent company, is its employee stock option plan.
“I have been fortunate that throughout our evolution, I have been able to work for an amazing founder,” she said, referring to Will Raap, now chairman of the board. Turcot first began in customer service and data entry; but Raap credits Turcot (see sidebar) with committing to a new ownership model and making it happen.
The company decided to invest in its employees in 1987, says Turcot, and has relied on Vermont employees’ inherent frugality, independence and creative thinking. “We adopted an Employee Stock Ownership Program (ESOP) that allows all employees to earn stock and share in company profits.” As of December 2009, Gardener’s Supply became 100 percent employee-owned.
Turcot has been integral to building the company from its humble beginnings in 1983 to its becoming the nation’s largest catalog-and-web marketer of gardening products and accessories. They now have two garden centers in Williston and Burlington, and millions of customers, with matching revenues and 225 year-round employees.