Chelsea Green Founders Margo and Ian Baldwin Complete the Sale of Their 35-year-old Progressive Indie Press to the Perfect Buyers: Their Employees!
While marking over three decades of publishing books on sustainable living and environmental stewardship and a recent completion of an ESOP buyback, this Vermont-based publisher is now 100% employee-owned and poised to take on the next 35 years.
Chelsea Green Publishing, the independent publishing house best-known for its editorial focus on organic food and agriculture, the environment, and progressive politics, has finalized the transition to 100% employee ownership through an employee stock-ownership plan (ESOP). On February 28th, 2019, the ESOP completed the buyback of shares from the original owners and founders, Margo and Ian Baldwin. By doing so, the independence of the company—begun in 1984—has been secured, joining a long list of successful New England employee-owned companies, including King Arthur Flour, Harpoon Brewery, Seventh Generation, and Hypertherm.
“We have always believed that good publishing can really only operate on a human scale,” CEO Margo Baldwin states, and “it is a publishing house, after all, that demands household values of mutual care and responsibility. I’m extremely proud of the work we do, the authors we publish, the books we produce, and the people who work here with me. And so Ian and I are thrilled to take this last step of selling our stake in Chelsea Green to the ESOP and to the employees who work here and will work here in the future.”
Chelsea Green continues to be a leader in green business and bringing voice to our world’s most pressing issues—including climate change, harmful chemicals in our food and water, the assault on sustainable agriculture by big business, and the waste of mass consumerism—whose books are intended to be tools for positive change, or as Baldwin says, “We publish books to save the world.”
Having published a broad range of groundbreaking books—George Lakoff’s Don’t Think of an Elephant, Jean Giono’s The Man Who Planted Trees, Eliot Coleman’s The New Organic Grower, and Sandor Katz’s The Art of Fermentation—Chelsea Green is also a founding member of the Green Press Initiative, and is committed to being a sustainable green business by reducing natural resource and energy use to the maximum extent possible, printing on 100% postconsumer recycled paper, and printing in North America rather than Asia.
And Chelsea Green’s books truly do share ideas and actions we can all take, or be inspired by, to change and ensure a sustainable future, like the recent PEN America Award winner, Eager: The Surprising Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter by Ben Goldfarb; a new book on a carbon-free cyclical economy by eco-pioneers Albert Bates and Kathleen Draper, Burn: Using Fire to Cool the Planet; Matthieu Auzanneau’s revealing work on the history of oil, Oil, Power & War: A Dark History; and a new book coming this fall by the much lauded British environmentalist and author, Rob Hopkins, From What Is to What If: Unleashing the Power of Imagination to Create the Future We Want.
With the recent ESOP transition, growth in the UK market, and its literary successes, Chelsea Green’s future as an employee-owned company is looking green and bright. Baldwin elaborates, “It has not been easy and there were many times when we were ready to give up. But in the end, we were able to persevere and find success and impact in the world. As we thought about what would come next, we realized that becoming an employee-owned company was the only logical step to ensuring that both the Company and its mission continued into the future.”