Keeping your best workers

When Carolyn Bradshaw worked as a full-time office manager at Raymond Rowe Furniture, she had more reasons than one to stick around.

For one, the now-retired employee enjoyed her employer and co-workers. Raymond Rowe Furniture also offered her an attractive incentive: a share of the company's profits each year.

"It was very good and very nice to me," said Bradshaw, who received her lump sum at retirement last year. "And I appreciate it."

Raymond Rowe Furniture offers all employees a chance to participate in its profit-sharing plan. Each year the company breaks even, Raymond Rowe Furniture makes contributions to the plan's "pot." Employees are able to take their share after five years or at retirement.

Randy Rowe, one owner of the family business, said the program is meant to help hire and retain dedicated employees, among other reasons.

"Hopefully that's an incentive to make the employee work hard so we can make a profit and we can share it," he said.

Nancy Abernathy, senior interior designer and accessory buyer for Raymond Rowe, began working at Raymond Rowe 19 years ago. When she was informed of the plan, Abernathy was all for it.

"At that time, I was in my 30s and I had worked for two other large, family-owned furniture stores in town that had no retirement plans for employees, nor any kind of profit-sharing," she said. "So it was a very good selling point."

"It gives you a mental ownership of the business," she added.

Rowe owns two furniture stores at 1200 and 1225 Broadway. He also owns a golf store, The Golf Gallery at Raymond Rowe, on the same block.

There are about 30 employees at all three businesses — from salaried clerical workers to commission-based sales people — and each is offered the program from the start of employment.

The catch is the employee must be there for a certain number of years before the plan kicks in. After five years, for example, the employee gets 100 percent of the profit-share.

Employees receive up to 15 percent of their salaries.

Employees usually withdraw the money at retirement. They can also withdraw their portion before that time, but then the money is taxable.

"It's a good feeling to see someone who you work with for a long time get a decent retirement because of this profit-sharing plan," Rowe said.

For 65-year-old Bradshaw — who returned to the business to work part-time — the plan worked out well in her situation.

"They put the money in there. I didn't," said Bradshaw, who has worked 21 years at Raymond Rowe. "And it really came in handy."

Bradshaw said she doesn't really consider herself a saver.

"When you're a single woman raising kids, you don't have money to put aside," she said. "I would like to have been a saver. So this was my little gold spoon."