O’Donal’s Nursery is always busy during the harvest season, but there has been an extra buzz this year. This season marks the garden center’s first as Maine’s newest 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.