You all know how much I love Vermont…here are examples of three businesses that have different approaches to their success that I find inspiring.

The Woodstock Farmers Market is the place I visit every time I go to Vermont…the best produce, baked goods, and assortment of outstanding products, wine selection, fish, and sandwiches… everything you need for the weekend. They received an award in NYC as the premier specialty market a few years ago by surprise. What they did to rebuild their destroyed business, and reopen 82 days after Hurricane Irene was exceptional. The ownership called a round table summit, and decided to go to the community for help. With only an announcement on their website, and personal letters written to key supporters, they pre-sold gift cards with a 20% discount to raise cash to rebuild quickly and not wait for insurance claims. To their amazement they pre-sold $350,000 of gift cards! This gave them the revenue quickly to replace the interior, food cases, and inventory. The hurricane struck Aug 28,2011 just shy of their 20th anniversary when they had their best year volume of $4.5 million. Most gift cards were used within the first 6 months of reopening. What a great example of organization of community effort in project management. It took a year to settle insurance claims and not all recouped because of the involved paperwork process of documentation. A true example of customer loyalty built day by day before disaster hits. The 3 minute video tells the emotional story. It is worth your time to watch.



King Arthur Flour
This week my friend Sally, who has her retail consulting business, asked me and two friends to join her at King Arthur Flour in Norwich, Vt to get our thoughts on product assortment and environment. We all left with shopping bags of items. King Arthur Flour has a 222 year history, started in 1790 and the oldest flour company in the US. Their Norwich campus has its own baking education center and a thousand items to purchase for everything you need to bake. It was owned by 3 generations of the Sands family since 1896, well educated and hardworking, expanding and leading through wars and grain shortages, and in 1996 started selling the company to the employees. By 2004 King Arthur Flour became 100% company employee owned! Through the Employee Stock Ownership Plan, each employee owns a real stake in the company and stands to benefit or loose based on success or failure. “It’s real incentive to do our best work every day, to ensure that our products and service are always the best, and our customers are happy.” That is true commitment! Most employees are full time with benefits. Only a handful of seasonal employees necessary in peak. Longevity and commitment are high!

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Simon Pearce
This summer the sommelier at the Simon Pearce Restaurant told me he and the staff were thrilled and celebrating that Simon Pearce was awarded the contract to provide all the glass for the tables at every embassy in the world. He said Simon was working on this contract for 5 years. I thought this was pretty incredible even though my syndical attitude wondered…do we, the government,  really have to spend this money when we are facing a government shutdown? Save the pennies!
This week it was confirmed. 4,000 pieces have to be delivered by March 31st for the first shipment. All the glass will be produced in Quechee by a team of 5, a master glass blower, 2 journeymen, and apprentices. Trainers from Sweden were there to teach the team new techniques of pulled stem and cut rim as the designs are exclusive. (Typically Simon Pearce glass has rolled rim and heavy stem and foot that are attached separately.) They are the only glass factory in the US that exclusively produces and sells only glass made in the US. My attitude has changed, as its just business, as the goal was to outfit all embassies with American made products. Visit Quechee to see them work around the clock to make their quotas!

Vision, Mission, Dedication, Employee Teamwork, Customer Loyalty…powerful and so obvious. Wouldn’t you want to work for any of these companies?  I would!