Work to Own: Employee ownership has boosted Chroma's bottom line

Chroma is owned by its 100 employees, who, grouped into committees, make most major corporate decisions. And that mode of organization has boosted the company’s bottom line, not just its social-responsibility image. Chroma’s revenues grew 6.5 percent in 2009, from $19.2 to $20.5 million.  “Studies show employee-owned companies are more productive than privately owned ones,” Millman says. Up the interstate in Burlington, the product manager of 89 North, a new Chroma subsidiary, echoes that assertion. “The fact [that] we’re all owners creates a sense of purpose,” says Chris Baumann, who helps build light sources for microscopes. “People are willing to go the extra mile.”  They’re also reluctant to leave Chroma. That may be due in part to the dearth of jobs offering good wages in the so-called Precision Valley in southern Vermont, where Chroma is based.

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