A deal with teeth
by David Whitford, FSB Magazine

(FORTUNE Small Business Magazine) - You've just sold 84% of your company to Colgate-Palmolive (Research) for $100 million. How to tell your staff? If you're Tom and Kate Chappell, co-founders of all-natural-toothpaste maker Tom's of Maine, you convene an 8 a.m. meeting for all 170 employees at the Kennebunk, Maine, community center.

You read a poem by Emily Dickinson, "Hope Is a Thing With Feathers." Then you do it. "There was a collective intake of breath," says Kate, 60, "and a sigh of relief when they understood what the components of the deal were." Among the highlights: no job transfers out of Maine, and a total of $1.2 million in loyalty bonuses. Tom will stay on for five years (three as CEO), while Kate gets a consulting contract.

But can tiny Tom's fulfill its destiny - "to become the trusted partner in natural-care products with the natural-care customer around commonly held values" is how Tom, 63, explains it--now that it's part of an $11-billion-a-year consumer products colossus? "The people [at Colgate] are incredibly smart and caring human beings," Tom says. "We think we have something to impart to one another." Top of page

To write a note to the editor about this article, click here.

YOUR E-MAIL ALERTS
Follow the news that matters to you. Create your own alert to be notified on topics you're interested in.

Or, visit Popular Alerts for suggestions.
Manage alerts | What is this?

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.