MIDDLEBURY — Declaring that “The time to retire is when you are healthy enough to enjoy it,” The Vermont Soap Company today announced the retirement of its long-time CEO Larry Plesent.
Plesent took VT Soap from “a twinkle in daddy’s eye” to its status today as one of Vermont’s most iconic companies
Known for his hands on management style and a “there are no unimportant parts” holistic approach to life and work, Plesent was equally comfortable crawling around under equipment or shaking hands with bank Vice Presidents.
A child of working-class self-employed parents and a high school dropout, Larry Plesent started his first business at the age of eighteen.
He understood firsthand what is like to be working poor and “working for your car so you can go to work.”
Plesent vowed to create a business that shared its profits with employees and stepped lightly on our planet.
That chance came in 1992 when he and a small group of investors founded the company now recognized nationally as simply “Vermont Soap.”
Plesent would often declare that “all boats rise in the harbor together.”
Early on he insisted on a $15/hr company minimum wage, quarterly profit-sharing bonuses, an organic soap allowance, free chiropractic care, and a free healthy lunch for all employees.
But more than that, Plesent strove to create a safe nontoxic, and drama-free workplace.
“We spend more time at our jobs than we do with our own children,” he would say. “We should enjoy coming to work. Or at least not hate it”.
The company will continue to operate under the able management of its Chief Operations Officer Nichole Faulkner and her team of Department Managers.
To ease the transition Plesent will continue in an advisory and consultant capacity.
“Until I’ve trained myself right out of a job,” he said.
He says he looks forward to catching up on chores, working on my next two books, and learning to sail a small boat.
Vermont Soap was established in 1992 and currently employs over 30 people full-time at its factory headquarters in Middlebury.