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Catalyzing worker co-ops & the solidarity economy

O’Donals becomes a worker-owned cooperative

O’Donals is widely known and regarded by gardeners, homeowners, and landscapers throughout northern New England. Founded in 1953 by Royce and Selma O’Donal, Jeffrey O’Donal purchased the business from his parents in 2006. Last year, O’Donal announced he was ready to retire, but wanted to find a way to maintain the family-owned ethos in the transition.

Rather than selling to an out-of-state buyer or shuttering the business, O’Donal decided to keep things close to home. He reached out to the Cooperative Development Institute (CDI) to explore how he could sell the business directly to its most invested stakeholders: the employees. Nearly half of the O’Donals staff had been with the business for ten or more years, and this year twenty-two employees signed on to form a cooperative and purchase the nursery together. Working alongside O’Donal and CDI, they successfully completed the transition to a worker-owned cooperative this spring.

Jeffrey O’Donal speaks of his employees like family “O’Donal’s Nursery exists, first and foremost, because of the shared vision, work ethic, and sense of fairness embodied by my parents. Many current employees have been here long enough to have worked with my parents, and now me. I can’t talk about our success without celebrating them.” he said.  “Their efforts, as much as mine, made the company what it is. I look forward to all that they are going to accomplish.”

Read the rest at Cooperative Maine Business Alliance


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