Meeting of March 22, 2017


President Judy opened the meeting at 07:30 and led the pledge of allegiance. Kris Engstrom offered an original and timely morning thought.

Judy introduced today’s guest:
• Bill Shouldice, President, Vermont Teddy Bear, and today’s speaker


  • Ric Flood, long-serving chair of the car raffle fundraiser, announced plans for 2017. The event

    will be at Shelburne Farms Coach Barn at 6 p.m. on May 12. Ric asked for help in calling former ticket holders who haven't committed to this year’s raffle by 13 April. He got a prompt reply as Richard Fox, Keith Walsh, Alan Bates, Kris Engstrom, John Beal, Eric Hanley, George Schiavone, and Sam Feitelberg (as well as Ric himself) said they would chase the laggards. Club members should advise Ric soonest as to their intentions for renewing their raffle ball for 2017. Per usual, there will be 100 balls and $275 (same as last time) buys one ticket/ball. Ric also passed out Tulip Tickets, which are priced at $10 each; a ticket drawn from every group of 27 Tulip Tickets sold will win its owner 1 Car Raffle ball.

  • Changing of the Guard will be on June 14 at 5 p.m. at the Fisher Brothers Farm where Becky and Bob will be our hosts. The event will be potluck, with Chef Will preparing the meat.

  • At yesterday's meeting of the Board, it was unanimously voted to bring to the membership a proposal to change the name of Charlotte Shelburne Rotary Club to Charlotte Shelburne Hinesburg Rotary. Discussion of the proposal made some changes/amendments. There were logical rearrangements, proposals for an alphabetical sequence, recommendations based on the science of human cognition, and the final motion, made by Richard Fox, was that the new name be Rotary of Charlotte Shelburne and Hinesburg. Seconded by Carole Obuchowski. All in favor. The name change involves extensive paperwork at the District and Rotary International levels, so the new name won't be official until all the legalities have been passed.

  • Alan Bates announced that the March Madness 50-50 pool did not coalesce as planned due to technical issues. He looks forward to continuing service as Gaming Commissioner.

    Sergeant-at-Arms—Alan Bates efficiently collected happy fines:

  • Linda and George—both happy

  • John—Hawaii. Mahalo

  • Kris—spring is coming

  • Eric—son’s 1st sleepover and 3 more

  • Keith—long days and sunsets

  • Howard—still no “h” at end of Hinesburg

  • Jon—his snow blower worked

  • Carol — for the weather and for the learning experience of painting a wall red and discovering

    that red is a very difficult color to apply - four coats to do the job!

  • Barbara — skiing at Mad River

  • Roz — thanks to the Rotarians who parked cars at Shelburne Farms Maple Celebration on

    Sunday, and for the excellent SBPA Mixer held at Douglas Sweets in the Shelburne Green Business Park on Tuesday evening, a great new local business with super Scottish Shortbread cookies and scones.

• Richard— his younger daughter's 4th birthday
• Ric—trip to FL next week and for daughter Megan’s recovery • Sam—great time during grandchildren week
• Judy—club’s name change
• Eric—skiing Sunday
• Lara—last meeting was cancelled by snow
• Todd—happy to be snowed in
• Bill—happy
• Alan—happy

Today’s program:

  • George Schiavone enthusiastically introduced Bill Shouldice, President of the Vermont Teddy

    Bear Company, as a 5th generation Vermonter and former Vermont Secretary of Commerce.

  • Bill began by providing some family background. He and his non-native Vermont wife have a

    daughter at Providence College, a daughter at Holy Cross, and a son who was graduated

    from Massachusetts Maritime Academy.

  • It is an awesome responsibility to lead a company that includes “Vermont” in its name. Bill

    previously worked at the Vermont Country Store and mentioned how closely tied the Orton

    family and Orton Family Foundation are to the state.

  • Bill gave a summary of VTB operations. It is a “direct to consumer business”. During his 4

    years, sales have grown from $38M to about $58M. Teddy Bears account for about 10% of sales and pajama grams for about 80%. The company has 2 new product lines, pajama jeans targeted at women 50+ years, and the recently purchased Vermont Brownie Company. Much to the delight (and relief) of all, Bill passed out samples of the brownies (rather than pajama jeans).

  • VTB has about 125 year-round employees. Seasonal, part-time employment is nearly 1,000. In VT’s competitive labor market, VTB strives to accommodate the millennial and elder workforce by offering flexible working hours and conditions.

  • VTB demonstrates commitment to the community through its corporate and employee support of Make-A-Wish, the Lund Foundation, Let’s Grow Kids, and UVM Hospital Pediatrics.

  • Bill is a member of the VT Economic Development Conference and serves as Chair of the VT Futures Group. At a recent conference he heard mild optimism for economic growth internationally and nationally. The U.S. benefits from having 3 strong branches of government. However, the forecast for VT economic growth will negatively influenced by the state’s declining and aging workforce.

  • Bill finished his talk by offering 3 suggestions for improving VT’s economy through workforce development. First, we can improve the connection between the Vermont’s business community and higher education. Vermont’s companies have diverse employment opportunities. Keep our graduates in Vermont. As in example, he suggested college internship programs directly leading to employment opportunities. Second, we should take full advantage of VT’s natural beauty and improve partnering with the tourism industry. Convert tourists to residents; “If you lived here, you’d be home by now!” And third, we can embrace and continue VT’s long tradition of welcoming immigrants. New Americans are a critically important segment of VTB’s workforce.