A closer look at companies executing leadership excellence
Heading back to work after you’ve just bonded with your newborn can be agony. In 2006, a new mother at New Hampshire-based W.S. Badger was hoping to make the transition easier when she asked if she could bring her new baby back to work with her. That question launched an innovative family-friendly program at Badger where healthy body care products – from mustache wax to baby products – are packaged and sold online and at retailers including Whole Foods and Wegmans.
The company was launched in the 1990s when carpenter Bill Whyte created a mixture of olive oil and beeswax to soothe his hands while working in the New England winters. He eventually decided to sell his homemade balm to local hardware and health food stores and invested $500 for a large vat to produce batches of his product. Today, W.S. Badger, the company Whyte founded with his wife, Katie, occupies a 23,000-square-foot manufacturing facility, has more than 100 employees, and last year generated $17 million in annual revenue.
The family-owned company created a family friendly program that includes an intake interview with the expectant parent (both mothers and fathers). Managers work with expectant parents to explore new roles within the company, shorten their work weeks or work remotely, bring babies under six months to the office, and more.
Recently, a plant expansion led to discussions about whether the program was too costly. After reassessing the make-room-for-baby policy, managers decided to double down on the program by hiring fulltime daycare providers to make the program run more efficiently.
Other employee-centric policies at Badger include pay for the highest-paid, full-time employee capped at five times the lowest-paid, which is $15 an hour (more than double New Hampshire’s minimum wage). Employees also benefit from a profit sharing plan and a company gym. In a recent interview recognizing Badger for making the Forbes Small Giants list, Whyte said, “You can be financially successful and be a big jerk, or you can be financially successful and be a contributor to making the world better. I know which way I’d like Badger to move.”
Kudos to Badger for making great products in a toddler friendly work environment!