The following video, if I’m not mistaken, was produced to coincide with the recent BALLE conference in Grand Rapids, which, to a great degree, revolved around the subject of employee ownership. In this video, Paul Saginaw explains why, ten years after the launch of Zingerman’s Delicatessen, he and his co-founder, Ari Weinzweig, decided upon an unorthodox model for growth, which had at its core the novel idea that employees could, if they wanted to, launch collaborative businesses of their own, beneath the Zingerman’s umbrella. That philosophy, over the past several years, has given rise to over a half dozen new companies, including a creamery, a coffee roaster, a bakehouse, and an award-winning restaurant, that now collectively employee over 500 people. And, as Paul notes in the video, they’ve done it without franchising, or sprawling across the map, in hopes of a big liquidity event. Their intention, as Paul notes, has never been to cash out, and sell the brand, but to create an entity that empowers its people to have decent lives, and enrich the community in which they live. I know I’m biased, as Paul’s a friend, but I think it’s pretty awesome stuff.
Here, for those of you who won’t watch the four-minute video, is the quote that sets it in motion.
“Business shouldn’t exist in order to create wealth. It should exist in order to give people better lives.” – Paul Saginaw