Quantcast

YCQM - Lisa Ventriss - June 24, 2012 - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

YCQM - Lisa Ventriss - June 24, 2012

Posted: Updated:
BURLINGTON, Vt. -

You Can Quote Me -- June 24, 2012 -- Lisa Ventriss of the Vermont Business Roundtable joins Darren Perron to discuss the business outlook for Vermont.

TRANSCRIPT:

Captioning provided by Caption Associates, LLC captionassociates.com r joining us, everyone ...I'm Darren Perron. This morning -- we

>>> THANK YOU FOR JOINING US, I'M DARREN PERRON.organiza THIS MORNING WE'RE TALKING TO in LISA VENTRISS OF THE VERMONT BUSINESS ROUNDTABLE, THE ORGANIZATION TOOK THE PULSE OF THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY AND HAS NEW NUMBERS ABOUT THE STATE'S ECONOMIC OUTLOOK. LISA VENTRISS, THANK YOU FOR JOINING US THIS MORNING.

>> THANK YOU. poll

>> TELL US ABOUT THIS SURVEY. IT WAS REALLY A POLL OF CEOS IN THE STATE OF VERMONT, WHAT WERE YOU FOLKS LOOKING FOR?

>> UM-HUM. WELL, THIS IS A SURVEY THAT WE CONDUCT OF OUR MEMBERSHIP EVERY QUARTER. AND IT IS OUR OPPORTUNITY TO TAKE THE PULSE OF THE TEMPERATURE, IF YOU WILL, OF BUSINESSES AND WHAT THEY ARE LOOKING OUT WITHIN THEIR COMPANIES, THEIR SIX-MONTH OUTLOOK, SALES, CAPITAL EXPENDITURES, AND UNEMPLOYMENT LEVELS.

>> AND THIS SURVEY FROM, YOU KNOW, JUST TAKING A LOOK AT IT NOW LOOKS PRETTY POSITIVE OVERALL.

>> OVERALL, ABSOLUTELY. I WOULD SAY THE BOTTOM LINE IS THAT THIS IS AN OPTIMISTIC OUTLOOK. AS WE LOOK AT THOSE THREE MEASURES, AND THE RESPONSES INDICATE THAT OVER 90% OF OUR MEMBERS EITHER FORECAST A STABLE OUTLOOK, OR AN INCREASE ON SALES AND EMPLOYMENT LEVELS.

>> SPEAKING SPECIFICALLY ABOUT NUMBERS, 7% INCREASE IN COMPANY SALES.

>> YES.

>> WHAT DO YOU THINK THAT INDICATES?

>> WELL, WHEN WE LOOK SIX MONTHS OUT FROM TODAY, WE'RE REALLY LOOKING AT THE END OF THE CALENDAR YEAR, AND FOR A NUMBER OF BUSINESSES, WE ARE ENTERING THE HEYDAY. THIS IS SUMMER AND FALL IN THE STATE OF VERMONT, RAMPING UP INTO THE WINTER SEASON, SO FOR COMPANIES THAT ARE DEPENDENT ON THOSE TOURISM DOLLARS, THAT'S ONE GROUP THAT'S LOOKING AT INCREASED SALES. IT'S ALSO WHAT WE'RE SEEING FOR PROFESSIONAL AND BUSINESS SERVICES, INCREASES IN THEIR SALES ACTIVITY, AND AS WELL FOR MANUFACTURING.ore. SO IT SEEMS TO BE HITTING ON A NUMBER OF INDUSTRIES.

>> AND THESE INDUSTRIES PLAN TO SPEND MORE AS WELL. CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THAT?

>> SO WHAT WE HAVE SEEN IN CONTRAST TO THE TWO PREVIOUS QUARTERS, WHEN BUSINESSES WERE FORECASTING INCREASED EXPENDITURES AND CAP EXPENDITURES -- CAPITAL EXPENDITURES, EITHER IN THEIR PHYSICAL PLANT OR TECHNOLOGY, THAT IS -- THAT PERCENT INCREASE HAS SLIPPED A LITTLE BIT, BUT IT MEANS THEY ARE STILL CONTINUING TO INVEST, BUT MORE THAN LIKELY THEIR OUTLOOK FOR THAT CATER IS A -- INDICATE ER IS A STABLE OUTLOOK. IT IS NOT SLIPPING BACK, BUT IT WILL MAINTAIN FOR THE NEXT SIX MONTHS.

>> 6% ON AVERAGE?

>> WELL, 6% FROM THE MEMBERS WHO HAD RESPONDED TO THAT QUESTION, JUST IN TERMS OF RAW ANSWERS.

>> AND I THINK PROBABLE RI -- PROBABLY A LOT OF FOLKS AT HOME MAY LOOK AT THE NEXT NUMBER MOST IMPORTANTLY, ESPECIALLY IF YOU'RE LOOKING FOR A JOB, AND IT LOOKS LIKE ABOUT 5% PLAN TO HIRE.

>> RIGHT. WE HAVE HERE WITH THE EMPLOYMENT INDICATOR IS ALWAYS THE LAST ONE TO COME OUT OF AN ECONOMIC LULL, AND, AGAIN, THAT IS THE CASE WITH US HERE. BUT WE HAVE HAD, AGAIN, WHAT WE CONSIDER TO BE A VERY STRONG RESPONSE, BECAUSE OVER 90% OF MEMBERS EITHER INDICATE STABLE EMPLOYMENT, WHICH IS THEY ARE NOT LAYING OFF, OR THEY ARE PLANNING TO INVEST IN NEW HIRES, AND SO WE THINK THAT THAT REALLY GOOD NEWS, AGAIN, FOR VERMONT.

>> DO YOU THINK THAT VERMONT HAS POSITIONED ITSELF IN A WAY THAT IS SORT OF DIFFERENT FROM THE REST OF THE COUNTRY? I MEAN, JUST THIS PAST WEEK, WE WERE SEEING, YOU KNOW, NOT VERY GOOD UNEMPLOYMENT NUMBERS, HOUSING MARKET IS STILL SUFFERING, JOBLESSNESS IS STILL A MAJOR CONCERN. ARE WE WEATHERING THIS ECONOMIC STORM BETTER THAN THE REST OF THE COUNTRY?

>> WELL, I THINK THAT'S PART OF THE REALITY WE'RE LOOKING AT RIGHT NOW, IS VERMONT DIDN'T GET INTO THE RECESSION AS DEEPLY AS MANY OTHER STATES, SO ON SOME INDICATORS, LIKE OUR FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS AND OUR HOUSING STOCK, AND INVENTORY, WE DID NOT SUFFER THE TYPES OF DECLINES THAT OTHER STATES DID, SO WE ARE IN A BETTER POSITION TO TAKE OFF. AND TO YOUR POINT, WE HAVE AN UNEMPLOYMENT RATE OF BELOW 5%, IT IS THE FOURTH LOWEST IN THE COUNTRY, IT IS THE LOWEST IN NEW ENGLAND, AND SO AGAINST OUR REGIONAL STATES, WE LOOK VERY GOOD ON THAT. SO IT TELLS US THAT BUSINESSES ARE PROBABLY -- WE KNOW THAT THEY ARE PINCHED FOR WORKERS RIGHT NOW. THEY WOULD HIRE MORE IF THEY COULD FIND MORE AVAILABLE AND SKILLED WORKERS.

>> LET'S DIVE INTO THAT, BECAUSE OBVIOUSLY IN THIS SURVEY AND THIS REPORT, THERE ARE SOME HEADWINDS THAT THESE COMPANIES ARE FACING IN THE STATE, AND ONE OF THEM BEING THAT THERE IS, A, NOT ENOUGH PEOPLE, AND, B, THEY DON'T HAVE THE SKILLS THAT THESE COMPANIES ARE LOOKING FOR.

>> RIGHT. SO WHEN WE SAY THAT THERE IS A MISMATCH, IF YOU WILL, WHAT WE'RE REALLY SEEING AGAIN ACROSS A NUMBER OF INDUSTRIES IS THAT THE CANDIDATE DOESN'T HAVE ENOUGH SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, ENGINEERING OR MATH SKILLS TO COME INTO A WORKPLACE AND TAKE OFF. SO WHAT WE ARE LOOKING FOR, WHAT PRIVATE SECTOR IS PARTNERING WITH STATE GOVERNMENT ON IS PREPARING PEOPLE FOR WORKFORCE TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT THAT'S GOING TO GIVE THEM THOSE TYPES OF SKILLS, SO THAT YOU CAN INCREASE THE NUMBER AND THE QUALITY OF THOSE EMPLOYEES.

>> AND WE'VE BEEN REPORTING, FOR EXAMPLE, DEALER.COM IN BURLINGTON, THEY ARE GETTING PRETTY CREATIVE HOW THEY ARE TRYING TO LURE PEOPLE, ESPECIALLY FROM THE WEST COAST WITH THESE SKILL SETS THAT THEY NEED FOR THEIR COMPANY, WHICH IS ONE OF THE FASTEST GROWING IN THE COUNTRY, WE JUST REPORTED LAST WEEK. WHAT ARE FOLKS DOING, AND WHAT ARE YOU SEEING, WHAT IS A TREND IN COMPANIES LIKE DEALER TO GET PEOPLE TO COME BACK TO VERMONT?

>> RIGHT. WELL, AGAIN, I THINK THE CREATIVITY THAT MANY BUSINESSES ARE LEANING TOWARDS IS A REQUIREMENT TO TRY TO PUT TOGETHER SOME APPEALING RECRUITMENT AND RETENTION PACKAGES, BECAUSE ONCE THEY FIND A VERY STRONG CANDIDATE, AND A VERY GOOD PRODUCTIVE WORKER, THEY WANT TO KEEP THEM. SO WHAT WE HAVE SEEN IN MANY CASES, AGAIN, THE DRAW OF A LOVELY PLACE TO LIVE AND RAISE A FAMILY IS ONE ELEMENT, BUT THEN IT'S HARD NUMBERS AND DOLLARS, AND SO ARE THERE WAYS THAT BUSINESSES CAN HELP THEM FIND HOUSING IN THE AREA. IF SOME PEOPLE ARE MOVING WITH A SPOUSE, THAT IS ALWAYS A CHALLENGE FOR THAT INDIVIDUAL, AND THAT EMPLOYER AS WELL, BUT IN MANY TIMES, THERE'S AN OPPORTUNITY TO TRY TO HELP PLACE A SPOUSE WITH A POSITION IN THE REGION, OR HELP MAKE SOME INTRODUCTIONS FOR THAT OPPORTUNITY. ONE AREA THAT WE HAVE SEEN IS ON THE ISSUE OF HEALTHCARE BENEFITS, THAT EMPLOYERS PROVIDE. AND THAT HAS BEEN A VERY IMPORTANT ELEMENT OF COMPENSATION THAT EMPLOYERS PROVIDE, SO A RICH HEALTHCARE BENEFITS PACKAGE, OR WELLNESS BENEFITS PACKAGE IS ANOTHER TOOL THAT THEY HAVE USED.

>> SO THEN WHAT WITH HEALTHCARE REFORM, IS THERE A CONCERN WITHIN THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY THAT THAT COULD SORT OF TAKE AWAY THAT DANGLING CARROT, IF YOU WILL

>> RIGHT. ONE OF THE INITIATIVES WITH THE ROUNDTABLE CONDUCTED THIS LAST YEAR WAS A SURVEY OF OUR MEMBERS TO UNDERSTAND WHAT THEY ARE BUYING RIGHT NOW IN TERMS OF HEALTHCARE BENEFITS PACKAGES, HOW RICH THAT PACKAGE IS IN TERMS OF THE ELEMENTS OF IT, THE SHARE THAT THE EMPLOYER IS PAYING, VERSUS WHAT THE EMPLOYEE IS PAYING, AND WHAT THAT REPRESENTS IN TERMS OF THEIR PERCENT OF PAYROLL. SO WE LEARNED THAT OUR EMPLOYEES HAVE BENEFITS PACKAGES THAT AVERAGE 92% IN TERMS OF ACTUARIAL VALUE, WHICH TELLS US THAT THEY PLACE A VERY HIGH VALUE ON THIS BENEFITS PACKAGE AS A RECRUITMENT AND RETENTION TOOL. AND IT ALSO REPRESENTS 11% OF THEIR PAYROLL WHEN WE LOOK AT THAT IN TOTAL. SO WE WANTED TO ESTABLISH THOSE NUMBERS SO THAT WHEN THE STATE COMES FORWARD WITH ADDITIONAL REFORM PROPOSALS, WE CAN COMPARE THE STATUS QUO WITH A PROPOSAL AND SEE WHAT THE IMPACT OF THAT MIGHT BE, EITHER POSITIVE OR NEGATIVE.

>> IS THERE A GENERAL CONCERN, THOUGH, THAT IT WILL BE MORE ON THE NEGATIVE SIDE, THAT IF THEY DON'T HAVE, SAY, THESE PACKAGES TO SAY LURE SOMEONE FROM OUT OF STATE TO FILL A POSITION HERE, THAT WE CAN'T FIND THE PEOPLE FOR, IT WILL BE TAKEN AWAY?

>> WELL, I THINK HOPEFULLY THERE WILL BE AN ALTERNATIVE FOR BUSINESS TO LAYER ON ADDITIONAL LEVELS OF BENEFITS OR SOME KIND OF COMPENSATION IN THAT WAY. SO WE'RE NOT QUITE SURE EXACTLY WHAT THAT IS GOING TO LOOK LIKE, BUT ANOTHER RELATED ISSUE WITH -- SINCE WE ARE ON HEALTHCARE REFORM, IS THE PACE OF REFORM. AND SO THESE ARE VERY COMPLEX ISSUES THAT ARE MOVING VERY QUICKLY, AND WE ARE TRYING TO POSITION OUR MEMBERS TO BE IN PARTNERSHIP WITH STATE GOVERNMENT, TO SHARE INFORMATION AND HELP FIND THE RIGHT SOLUTIONS FOR VERMONT.

>> A COUPLE OF OTHER HURDLES THAT YOU FOLKS IDENTIFIED, IF THE NUMBERS STICK, IT WOULD BE 7%, AGAIN, INCREASED SALES, 6% INCREASED CAPITAL SPENDING, 5% INCREASE IN EMPLOYMENT, UNLESS FUEL PRICES THIS POLITICAL YEAR, AND TROPICAL STORM IRENE PLAY ROLES. EXPLAIN THOSE THINGS.

>> WELL, TAKING THE LAST ONE FIRST, I MET RECENTLY WITH A REPRESENTATIVE FROM THE DISASTER RELIEF FUND, WHO SHARED WITH ME THAT THERE'S STILL 800 FAMILIES THAT HAVE UNMET NEED, SO THEIR LIVES ARE STILL DISRUPTED. STATE GOVERNMENT HAS OBVIOUSLY BEEN VERY PREOCCUPIED WITH ALL OF THOSE RECOVERY AND RECONSTRUCTION PROJECTS, WHICH WILL LAST FOR YEARS TO COME. an SO THAT'S A DRAIN ON THE STATE, AND THAT MEANS WE MAY NOT HAVE THE FUNDS NECESSARY FOR OTHER TYPES OF INVESTMENTS. IT IS A POLITICAL YEAR, AND REALLY ON A NATIONAL LEVEL, WHAT WE'RE LOOKING AT IS BUSINESS LIKES PREDICTABILITY. SO DEPENDING ON WHO IS IN OFFICE AT THE END OF THE ELECTION, THERE WILL BE LIKELY CHANGES TO MAJOR TAX AND FISCAL POLICIES, WE HAVE OBAMAbusi HEALTHCARE, WHICH IS ON THE HORIZON AS WELL. WE HAVE THE BUSH ERA TAX CUTS, WHICH ARE ANOTHER ASPECT OF THE COUNTRY'S FISCAL POLICIES, AND SO THOSE HAVE THE POTENTIAL, THE DISRUPTION OF THOSE, HAS THE POTENTIAL TO REALLY HAVE AN IMPACT ON BUSINESS.

>> AND FUEL PRICES AS WELL.

>> AND FUEL PRICES AS WELL. WE TRAVEL AROUND, AND WE LOOK AT HOW MUCH GASOLINE IS PER GALLON IN BURLINGTON, VERSUS, YOU KNOW, ANY OTHER PLACE IN NEW ENGLAND OR IN VERMONT, AND IT IS A VOLATILE COMMODITY.

>> WE TALKED ABOUT THE UNMROINLT RATE IN -- UNEMPLOYMENT RATE IN GENERAL IN VERMONT IS RELATIVELY LOW COMPARED TO THE REST OF THE NATION, BUT THERE ARE SOME TROUBLE SPOTS, NAMELY THE NORTHEAST KINGDOM IN NEWPORT, FOR EXAMPLE, IT'S STILL HOVERING AROUND 9%. IS THAT A CONCERN IN THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY?

>> UM-HUM. WELL, IT IS A CONCERN IN THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY BECAUSE LARGE EMPLOYERS DRAW THEIR WORK FORCES FROM MANY REGIONS AROUND THE STATE, AND SO TO THE EXTENT THAT THERE ARE ECONOMICALLY DISADVANTAGED POCKETS THAT'S A CHALLENGE. IT'S TOUGH FOR THOSE COMMUNITIES, BECAUSE IF PEOPLE ARE NOT MAKING AN INCOME, THEN THE NEED FOR SERVICES, SUPPORT NETWORKS AND THOSE TYPES OF INITIATIVES ARE IN GREATER DEMAND. SO IT IS OF CONCERN. RIGHT NOW IN CHITTENDEN COUNTY, THINGS ARE LOOKING REALLY GOOD. THERE'S A LOT OF ACTIVITY GOING ON. AND, YOU KNOW, WONDERFUL ECONOMIC ACTIVITIES GOING ON ua IN OTHER PARTS OF THE STATE. THE UPPER CONNECTICUT RIVER VALLEY IS AN EXAMPLE, IS ONE SPOT. fi THERE ARE PLACES IN THE SOUTHERN PART OF THE STATE AS WELL WHERE THERE'S A LOT OF DYNAMIC ECONOMIC ACTIVITY, BUT FOR PEOPLE WHO STILL DON'T HAVE JOBS, YOU KNOW, THOSE INDIVIDUALS WHO ARE IN THAT 4.8% RATE, IT HAS BEEN -- OR PEOPLE WHO ARE UNDEREMPLOYED, EITHER UN OR UNDEREMPLOYED ARE REALLY CONTINUING TO SUFFER HERE.

>> WE HAVE REPORTED ON BILL STINGER AND THE EB5 PROGRAM AT JAY PEAK BRINGING HUNDREDS OF JOBS THERE. IS THIS SUSTAINABLE, DO YOU THINK THE EB5 PROGRAM MAKES SENSE? IS THIS WHAT'S GOING TO TAKE TO GET THE NORTHEAST KINGDOM OUT OF THIS, YOU KNOW, ONGOING UNEMPLOYMENT PROBLEM?

>> RIGHT. WELL, IT HAS TAKEN OFF AND IT'S BEEN VERY SUCCESSFUL WITH THE PROJECTS THAT WE KNOW ABOUT AT JAY PEAK AND AT SUGARBUSH. AND THERE ARE OTHER INDUSTRIESe AS WELL THAT ARE ENTERTAINING, PARTICIPATING IN THAT. IT IS NOT THE SILVER BULLET TO ALL OF THE STATE'S ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CHALLENGES, OR WORKFORCE NEEDS RIGHT NOW, WITHIN THE ROUNDTABLE WE KEEP L SAYING THAT EDUCATION EQUALS OPPORTUNITY, AND THE MORE EDUCATION PEOPLE HAVE AND THE BETTER PREPARED THEY ARE TO JOIN THE WORKFORCE, THE MORE MOBILITY THEY WILL HAVE, THE MORE INCOME THEY WILL HAVE, THE BETTER LIKELIHOOD THAT THEIR CHILDREN WILL HAVE HIGHER LEVELS OF EDUCATION AS what a WELL. SO PART OF WHAT WE ARE DOING IS WE HAVE A SCHOLARSHIP FUND WHERE WE SUPPORT POSTSECONDARY TECHNICAL EDUCATION AS A MEANS OF REACHING THE MIDDLE SKILLS GAP THAT WE REFERRED TO TO TRY AND BUILD THAT CAPACITY AGAIN.n

>> WHAT CAN THE STATE DO?

>> WELL, CERTAINLY RIGHT NOW, IN TERMS OF EDUCATION, WE HAVE A GOVERNOR WHO IS VERY SUPPORTIVE OF INVESTMENT AND EDUCATION, AND REFORMING OUR SYSTEM FROM PRE-K TO 16. SO THAT'S WONDERFUL. THE PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN WORKFORCE AND TRAINING PROGRAMS AND THE PRIVATE SECTOR IS ANOTHER AREA WHERE y THERE'S BEEN A LOT OF INVESTMENT AND SUPPORT. WE NEED TO KEEP THOSE INITIATIVES GOING AS WELL. AND WE NEED TO CONTINUE TO FIND WAYS TO REACH ACROSS ALL OF THE GENERATIONS, FROM MILLENNIALS TO TRADITIONALISTS0- AND FIND WAYS TO KEEP THOSE PEOPLE ACTIVELY EMPLOYED IN THE WORKFORCE. THERE ARE A VARIETY OF PEOPLE WITH VARIED BACKGROUNDS, AND SIMPLY BECAUSE THEY MIGHT RETIRE, QUOTE, UNQUOTE, FROM A POSITION OR A CAREER THEY'VE HAD FOR DECADES, DOESN'T MEAN THEY MAY NOT BE ABLE TO BE EMPLOYED IN OTHER AREAS AS WELL.

>> SO THE SO-CALLED BRAIN DRAIN, WHERE YOUNG PEOPLE ARE LEAVING THE STATE RIGHT AFTER COLLEGE IS NOT THE ONLY CONCERN.

>> RIGHT.l ab THAT'S JUST ONE BUCKET OF PEOPLE. THAT IS THE PRIME WORKFORCE AGE GROUP, THOUGH, WHICH IS THE 25 TO 34 AGE COHORT. WE WANT THOSE TO COME BACK, THAT IS THEIR PRIME YEARS FOR si COMING BACK, HAVING FAMILIES, BUYING HOMES, BEING ACTIVE IN THE COMMUNITY OF VOLUNTEERS, AND SO WE NEED TO CONTINUE TO DEVELOP WAYS AND INCENT PEOPLE TO COME BACK HERE.

>> BOTTOM LINE, LOOKING AT THElook SURVEY OF THE STATE'S TOP EMPLOYERS, WHAT DID YOU TAKE ke t AWAY FROM THIS. WHAT SHOULD WE READ INTO THIS REPORT?

>> I THINK I WOULD SUGGEST WHAT THIS DATA TELLS US, WE Elio HAVE A MUTED RECOVERY. WE HAVE AN UNEVEN RECOVERY, and BUT NEVERTHELESS, IT IS MOVING IN A POSITIVE DIRECTS, AND SO -- POSITIVE DIRECTION. SO THAT'S AN OPTIMISTIC OUTLOOK FROM OUR PERSPECTIVE.

>> LISA VENTRISS FROM THE VERMONT BUSINESS ROUNDTABLE, THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR JOINING US THIS MORNING. way

>> THANK YOU, DE Want to take a trip back in time? Then visit the

>>> WANT TO TAKE A TRIP BACK IN TIME? THEN VISIT THE VERMONT COUNTRY STORE. BUT AS GINA BULLARD SHOWS US, THE COMPANY HAS ALSO CHANGED WITH THE TIMES TO STAY STRONG FOR NEARLY SEVEN DECADES.

>> IN THE QUAINT TOWN OF WESTON, THE RING OF A BELL -- [BELL RINGING ]

>> AND THE SQUEAK OF A FLOORBOARD LET YOU KNOW YOU ARE ABOUT TO EXPERIENCE THE VERMONT COUNTRY STORE.

>> BUT THE STORES ARE THE HEART AND SOUL OF THE BUSINESS.

>> WITH 15,000 SQUARE FEET OF UNIQUE, HARD-TO-FIND PRODUCTS --

>> OH!

>> THIS COULD BE THE FINAL RESTING PLACE OF THE FREEZE BACK IN MY DAY, WHETHER IT'S VIM AND VIGOR YOU ARE LOOKING FOR, OR JUST SOME PENNY CANDY, THE VERMONT COUNTRY STORE HAS IT, AND HAS HAD IT FOR THE PAST 66 YEARS.

>> THIS BRINGS BACK A LOT OF MEMORIES.

>> THIS STORE IS MEMORIES OF MY LIFE. I WAS ALMOST 5 YEARS OLD WHEN MY FATHER AND MOTHER STARTED THIS STORE IN 1946. THE BUSINESS HAS CHANGED OVER THE YEARS. BUT ONE THING REMAINS THE SAME -- IT'S STILL A FAMILY AFFAIR.

>> IT IS IN OUR BLOOD, BUT IT IS ALSO US AND VERMONT.

>> CABOT, GARDNER AND ELLIOTT, THE SONS, OR BOYS, HAVE ALL GROWN UP IN THE BUSINESS. WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES OF WORKING WITH YOUR FATHER?

>> WITH FATHERS AND SONS, YOU CAN BE GOING ALONG, HAVING, YOU KNOW, WORKING AND TALKING ABOUT THINGS, AND THEN YOU CAN -- THE WHOLE THING CAN BLOW UP INTO SOME ERUPTION, LIKE IT WAS WHEN THEY WERE 14 OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT.

>> THE VERMONT COUNTRY STORE STARTED AS A 12-PAGE, 36-ITEM CATALOG, AND NOW HAS THOUSANDS OF PRODUCTS AND 500 EMPLOYEES. SALES HIT $100 MILLION LAST YEAR. 10% OF THAT IS DRIVEN FROM ITS TWO RETAIL LOCATIONS, IN WESTON AND ROCKINGHAM. THE REST COMES FROM CATALOG AND ONLINE SALES.

>> IT'S ALL ABOUT THE PRODUCTS. ALL ABOUT MERCHANDISE.

>> WITH MORE THAN A MILLION CUSTOMERS A YEAR, FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD, IT LOOKS LIKE THE MERCHANDISING AND BUSINESS MODEL IS WORKING.

>> WEDNESDAY THE STORE HOSTED A GROUP OF REPORTERS FROM THE UNITED KINGDOM. THEY ARE TRAVEL WRITERS LOOKING FOR UNIQUE DESTINATIONS, LIKE THE VERMONT COUNTRY STORE.

>> CUSTOMERS COME FROM ALL OVER. THEY COME, WE THINK, TO GET A SLICE OF A SIMPLER TIME, SORT OF STEPPING BACK TO WHEN THINGS WERE SIMPLER, IN A WAY WHEN THINGS JUST WORKED.

>> THERE ARE CHANGES AT THE STORE. THE CEO IS STEPPING DOWN AFTER SEVEN YEARS ON THE JOB. ONE OF HIS MAIN RESPONSIBILITIES WAS TO PREPARE THE THIRD GENERATION OF BOYS TO RUN THE BUSINESS.

>> I THINK THAT'S WHAT BINDS US TOGETHER. THIS IS A FAMILY LEGACY FOR US. THIS IS SOMETHING THAT WE SEE PASSING ONTO OUR KIDS.

>> A THIRD GENERATION OF VERMONTERS, STILL BEATING THE ODDS IN THE BUSINESS WORLD. GINA BULLARD, CHANNEL 3 NEWS, WESTON.

>>> VERMONT IS KNOWN FOR MAKING GOOD BEERS, AND NOW A KEY INGREDIENT IS ONCE AGAIN GROWING IN THE STATE. KAGAN HARSHA CHECKS IT OUT.

>> JUST A STONE'S THROW FROM THE VERMONT-CANADIAN BORDER SITS AN UNUSUAL SIGHT. ONE THAT'S CERTAINLY HARD TO IGNORE.

>> THIS IS, I WOULD SAY, ALMOST A SHORTER VERSION OF WHAT YOU WOULD SEE OUT WEST.

>> THEY ARE HOPS, SOARING MORE THAN 16 FEET INTO THE SKY, THIS LOOKS A LITTLE LIKE A SCENE OUT OF "JURASSIC PARK."

>> THEY WILL GROW OVER THE TOP AND BACK DOWN.

>> IF SOME FARMERS HAVE ANYTHING TO SAY ABOUT IT, THIS COULD SOON BECOME A VERY FAMILIAR SITE.

>> STARTING TO GET A FEW LATERAL SHOOTS. THIS IS WHERE THE HOP CONES WILL BE.

>> ALL PART OF THE VERMONT HOPS PROJECT. UVM EXPERIMENTING WITH THE CROP TO SEE HOW IT GROWS HERE AND WHETHER IT COULD BE PRODUCED ON A MASS SCALE.

>> WE'RE TRYING TO LEARN AHEAD OF THE PEOPLE THAT ARE DOING IT, SO THAT THEY DON'T MAKE ALL THE MISTAKES.

>> BELIEVE IT OR NOT, VERMONT WAS ACTUALLY ONCE THE SECOND BIGGEST PRODUCER OF HOPS IN THE COUNTRY. IN 1850, VERMONT GREW 8% OF THE NATION'S HOPS, BUT THAT ALL CHANGED IN THE EARLY 1900S. DISEASE ALL BUT WIPED OUT THE CROP, AND PRODUCTION MOVED WEST TO EASTERN WASHINGTON AND OREGON.

>> THE DRY WEATHER IS MORE CONDUCIVE BECAUSE OF DISEASES. THE DRIER IT IS, USUALLY THE LESS DISEASES YOU HAVE.

>> THOSE SAME PESTS ARE STILL AROUND.

>> YOU CAN SEE A LOT OF POTATO LEAF HOPPERS IN HERE.

>> BUT THERE'S HOME THE -- HOPE THE CROP COULD MAKE A COMEBACK, ESPECIALLY SINCE VERMONT TODAY HAS MORE BREWERIES PER CAPITA THAN ANY OTHER STATE.

>> ONE OF THE CHALLENGES RIGHT NOW TO PRODUCING THE CROP IN VERMONT IS TRYING TO FIND A WAY TO GROW IT ON A LARGE SCALE. THIS IS THE ONLY YARD OF ITS KIND HERE IN THE STATE, AND IT TAKES ABOUT 30 POUNDS OF HOPS TO MAKE ONE VERY LARGE BATCH OF BEER.

>> WE RUN PROBABLY A THOUSAND POUNDS A YEAR OF HOPS, AND NOBODY HAS A PLOT THAT BIG YET.

>> VERMONT PUB AND BREWERY, ONE OF A HANDFUL OF LOCAL BREWERS THAT IS PARTNERING WITH UVM TO TEST THE HOPS IN ITS BREWS, AND SO FAR, SO GOOD.

>> WE HAVEN'T DONE ANYTHING THAT FAST IN A WHILE.

>> THE FIRST 20 GALLONS OF BREW SOLD OUT IN JUST FOUR SHORT DAYS: BUT WHILE DEMAND IS HIGH, THE QUALITY OF THE HOPS STILL HAS A LONG WAYS TO GO. VERMONT HOPS ARE LESS AROMATIC THAN THOSE GROWN ELSEWHERE, AND SEVERAL THEORIES WHY THAT IS. CLIMATE MAY PLAY A BIG ROLE. HOPS GROWN HERE ARE ALSO VERY EXPENSIVE.

>> I WOULD SAY IT IS AT LEAST 20% MORE. IN SOME CASES 50.

>> IT IS AN IDEA THAT STILL HAS A LOT OF KINKS TO BE WORKED OUT.

>> WE NEED TO FIGURE OUT HOW DO WE GROW THE BEST QUALITY HOPS IN VERMONT, SO THAT THE BREWERS ARE PAYING FOR THE BEST PRODUCT, NOT JUST THE VERMONT PRODUCT.

>> ONE SOME SEEN TO BE HOPPING TOO, AS FARMERS LOOK FOR NEW WAYS TO DIVERSIFY CROPS. CHANNEL 3 NEWS.

>> THE TOP 200 DRAGON BOAT TEAMS IN THE WORLD WILL COMPETE NEXT MONTH IN THE WORLD CUP CREW DRAGON BOAT CHAMPIONSHIPS IN CHINA. A VERMONT TEAM MADE THE CUT. A GROUP OF WOMEN WHO HAVE FOUGHT HARD TO GET HERE, AND BATTLED BREAST CANCER. PHOTOGRAPHER MARK CLEMENT CAUGHT UP WITH THE DRAGON HEART VERMONT SISTERS.

>> GO!

>> ONE, TWO.

>> WE PADDLE DRAGON BOATS FOR FUN, FORFEIT NGS, AND FOR RECOVERY FROM BREAST CANCER.

>> GOOD JOB, LADIES!

>> THIS YEAR MARKS THE 25TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE HONG KONG INTERNATIONAL DRAGON BOAT FESTIVAL. WE HAVE 21 MEMBERS OF OUR DRAGON HEART SISTERS TEAM, AND THEN WE BRING ALONG SIX MEMBERS OF OUR GREEN MOUNTAIN GIRLS, SENIOR WOMEN'S TEAM.

>> PUSH OFF, PUSH OFF, PUSH OFF!

>> I AM IN BACK OF THE BOAT, STEERING THE BOAT AND TRYING TO URGE THE CREW MEMBERS ON. AND YOU HAVE AN INCREDIBLE VISION OF THESE 20 HEADS GOING UP THE BOAT, JUST GIVING EVERYTHING THAT THEY POSSIBLY CAN. CAN.

>> FOR BREAST CANCER SURVIVOR, THE CHANCE TO DRAGON BOAT MEANS THAT YOU CAN FEEL A SENSE OF EMPOWERMENT, THAT YOU CAN DO SOMETHING INSTEAD OF BEING TOLD THINGS THAT YOU CAN'T DO.

>> DIG, DIG!

>> THIS IS A VERY COURAGEOUS GROUP OF WIN. I HAVE BEEN INVOLVED WITH ATHLETES ALL MY LIFE, AND I GOT TO SAY, THIS IS THE MOST INSPIRING GROUP OF ATHLETES I'VE EVER WORKED WITH.

>> WHEN ALL 20 OF YOU ARE PADDLING, YOU FEEL THE BOAT LIFT, AND IT IS AN AMAZING HIGH, FEELING THE BOAT GLIDE ON THE WATER. WE ALL HAVE THE HOPE OF WINNING A MEDAL, BUT THAT DOESN'T REALLY MATTER. WE WANT TO KNOW THAT WE ARE ALL GETTING STRONGER, GETTING FITTER AND HAVING A GREAT EXPERIENCE TOGETHER.

>> EASY, GO.

>> I WOULD GET TO GO TO HONG KONG TO SHOW OUR PADDLING PROWESS, AND OUR MESSAGE OF HOPE IS WHAT WE'RE SPREADING LOUD AND CLEAR AROUND THE WORLD.

>> WE WISH THEM LOTS OF LUCK. WE ARE ROOTING FOR THEM.

>>> THAT WILL DO IT FOR US. TAKE CARE AND HAVE A GREAT SUNDAY. WE'LL SEE YOU SOON. Captioning provided by Caption Associates, LLC captionassociates.com

Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WCAX. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.