(www.crown-point.com), a custom cabinetmaker based in Claremont, N.H., started springing for free doughnuts and coffee in 1992, a small step in reinventing an environment “that was not a lot of fun anymore and too aggravating,” says sales manager Brian Stowell.
Stowell made a deal with the staff back then: “Trust my judgment, and make it right the first time, and I'll reward you in kind.”
Among the changes, he reorganized workers into job-specific teams, with peer pressure replacing department managers. The transition paid off: Since 1992, company sales have shot up from $4 million to $10.5 million, productivity has soared up to 50 percent (despite a smaller staff), and sales have risen from $4 million in 1992 to $10.5 million. The company even scored a recent spot on Bob Villa's Home Again television series.
As business has improved, so have the motivational perks. The doughnuts have evolved into full breakfast, Thursday lunch is often on the boss, and the firm offers discounted ski passes to employees. Add to that higher-than-average wages because of a program in which Crown Point spreads the wealth based on achievement of weekly goals, and the result is almost no staff turnover, despite a local unemployment rate of only 2 percent.