Wednesday Jan 2 2019
It takes a village. This well-known African proverb certainly isn’t lost on Gardner Village. No single person keeps things running smoothly. From the events team and food staff to the retail shop employees and the property team to the warehouse crew and the main office, more than 125 employees come together to make the magic happen. And that’s just those working for the Gardner Mill Company & C&W (CF Home, Down to Earth, Layers Bedding, Archibald’s Restaurant, Naborhood Bakery, and the various events venues, as well off-site property, The Black Goose Design). When you also factor in all of the amazing people working for the independently-owned retail shops, dining, and events located throughout The Village, it truly is an impressive feat!
KEEPING IT REAL(LY FUNNY!)
To celebrate such collaboration and commitment and a successful 2018, Gardner Village owners, Angie Gerdes and Joe Long, hosted a year-end gathering for all Mill Company employees. As this humorous opening slide so accurately details, this event was all about keeping things real.
Setting the tone for this festive ocassion, the opening slide reads: "Buckle your seatbelts, boys and girls, because in 347 Power Point slides, Angie and Joe is gonna learn ya a thing or two about this here village. So grab yo'self a plate-o-scrambly eggs and a bottle of fancy ketchup, because the next 1.5 hours are about to BLOW YOUR MINDS!" No wonder employees were all smiles.
Beyond the delicious "scrambly eggs," a full buffet of breakfast foods were served. Oh, and fancy ketchup, of course!
But, as nice as the food and company were, it was the messages shared that were truly touching. Hard working employees were recognized, past accomplishments were celebrated, and future sites were set.
Time was dedicated to recognizing some of the many shining stars who work for Gardner Village.
“It’s about friendliness as much as sales,” Angie said, as she introduced the awards. “You can be the best at sales there is, but if you don’t make our customers feel like the friends and neighbors they are, it simply won’t work.”
The Village wasn’t hard up for employees who fit such a description. Numerous awards were given out, while even more employees were recognized by name and with rounds of applause. It was a supportive celebration of success and hard, caring work.
GHOSTS OF VILLAGE PAST
There’s a reason so many who work for Gardner Village have done so for decades. It’s clearly a place where people know how to have fun and find joy in what they do. At the meeting, there were many laughs as employees reminisced about the good old days in a special video presentation.
Brad Rammell, the warehouse manager who has worked for The Village since 2003, laughed as he described their inventory methods of old. “Angie, climbing up tall shelves, trying to find stuff…” he laughed. “You’ve heard of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs? Well, this was like Cloudy with a Chance of Nightstands. Heads up!”
Shauna Lund, who has worked for The Village since 1998, recalled one of her first days on the job. “Employees were all gathered around a window, gawking at something. I asked what they were looking at, and they said Joe, the owner, was out in his cutoffs. It was right when those old Diet Coke commercials were airing with the attractive construction worker, and I couldn’t help but laugh,” she recalled.
As employees reminisced, one common thread came up over and over again: The Village has come a long way! The computer systems and technology have improved. The inventory processes have made great strides to ensure order accuracy and satisfaction. The attire has changed (LOL). But one thing remains as true today as it did in the early days—Joe and Angie (seen below in the center and right of image) are hands-on owners who get in and help with all aspects of the business.
If something needs to be done, they’re there to do it. (They’re also two of the most humble people you’ll come across, so they probably wouldn’t appreciate this fact being stated, but it's the truth. And it's so refreshing to find places of employment where an atmosphere of teamwork and support starts a the top. What Angie and Joe bring to The Village was evident by all who spoke. It was nice to witness.)
GHOSTS OF VILLAGE PRESENT
“Slow and steady is the name of our game,” Joe said. “We are about service and providing entertainment-based retail for those who visit The Village.”
The level of transparency from Joe and Angie at this meeting was refreshing and honest. They detailed how this past year was a profitable one and credited such success to the employees. To show their appreciation, all Mill Company employees received holiday cash bonuses at the event. (Gardner Village also offers a generous 401-K match program.)
Time was also spent re-capping some of the 2018 community works Gardner Village participated in, including Feed My Starving Children, which raised $72,146 and prepared 272,180 meals in just two days! That’s enough food to feed 744 kids for an entire year!
“Giving back at work is a big deal,” Joe said.
GHOSTS OF VILLAGE FUTURE
Looking ahead, Gardner Village detailed how it plans to continue helping Feed My Starving Children and other charitable endeavors within the community, but it also wants to be there for its own employees and their families in their times of need. They do this through their Employee Relief Fund. This optional program allows employees to contribute money from their own paychecks that then goes into an emergency fund. In 2018, Gardner Village matched 20% of every contribution made. In total, the company had enough money available to help six families.
“Being able to help an employee be with her dying mother… and another bury her father… supporting another for months as she sat at her grandchild’s side in the ICU… it’s all pretty touching,” Joe said through tears.
Sadly, you never know when you’ll find yourself faced with tragedy. Wanting to help as many as possible this year, should such circumstances arise, Gardner Village announced that it will match all Employee Relief Fund contributions at 100% in 2019. What an outstanding program and idea!
WORDS FROM THE HEART
“We opened Gardner Village in 1980,” Angie said. “At that time, many people said our family couldn’t do it. Today, we stand back and feel so blessed and proud. Only 5% of businesses transition to a second generation, and we’ve managed to do that by aligning with our people—you, our employees, as well as our visitors. This comes from all of YOUR efforts. Having so many of you here as long as we have… we cherish that! What an honor it is to align with you and, together, give back to our community and state. Thank you!”
IT TAKES A VILLAGE
Of course, none of the past, present, or future of Gardner Village would be possible without you. Your trips with friends, family traditions, and everyday shopping stops make it all possible. We’ve seen so many of you host gatherings here, from weddings and baby showers to corporate events and reunions. It’s a tremendous gift to be a part of your lives. Thank you for helping us beat the odds as a second generation business and part of Utah’s community.
Happy New Year from all of your friends who work behind the scenes at Gardner Village!
P.S. WHAT'S SAID IS REALLY WHAT YOU GET
I was asked to give you a glimpse behind the scenes at Gardner Village and share a few highlights from this lively and meaningful meeting. I hope you won't mind if I take it upon myself to take it a step further and briefly share my own first-hand Village experience. As I listened to Joe discuss service with such passion and compassion, I couldn’t help but tear up right along with him. I’m entering my fifth year blogging for The Village. Technically speaking, I’m not even a part-time employee, but I’ve felt such love and appreciation from EVERYONE at Gardner Village from the day I started lending a hand. I've visited this happy desitination many times in my lifetime, and I've always enjoyed each memorable trip. I never imagined that impression could improve by working here (it seems the opposite often occurs when you work for a place you've always loved), but it sure has happened for me. I couldn't love Gardner Village more! Those who work for this company are some of the most genuinely kind, supportive, encouraging people I’ve ever had the pleasure of collaborating with. I know finding such a professional diamond in the rough is a gift, and I wanted to put my professional endorsement out there for any who may be seeking a change with the new year. You'll find more about employment opportunities here.