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

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Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer LIBOR Warning: Neither BBA Enterprises Limited, nor the BBA LIBOR Contributor Banks, nor Reuters, can be held liable for any irregularity or inaccuracy of BBA LIBOR. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.