(Corrects in 7th graf GMCR 2007 revenue to $336 mln instead of
* Some Vermonters confused by dive in share price
* State's 4th-largest employer, $2.7 bln in revenue
By Melvin Backman
June 14 Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc
did not crack the Fortune 500 list this year, but it is
a big deal to folks back home.
Many of the coffee manufacturer's hometown supporters are
puzzled at how the fast-growing company's stock has gone almost
overnight from one of Wall Street's most loved to one of its
For many in Vermont, it is a classic case of Wall Street not
connecting with Main Street. That is because in Vermont, Green
Mountain is not just one of the largest employers, its very
presence supports many much smaller businesses.
"If Green Mountain were to disappear, I wouldn't have a
paycheck," said Kelly Brooks, who puts in hours at Zachary's
Pizza House less than a mile from Green Mountain's headquarters
in Waterbury, a small town of fewer than 1,800. Brooks said her
income depends in large part on the paychecks of Green Mountain
Roughly 1,850 of Green Mountain's 5,600 employees are
located in Vermont. The maker of Keurig coffee machines and its
popular single-serve "K-cups" coffee product also is Vermont's
Green Mountain - named after the Vermont mountain range -
has been a shining example of economic growth in the state.
Revenue at the company has skyrocketed over the past five
years to $2.7 billion by the end of 2011 from $336 million.
But after years of astronomical growth, with its stock
hitting a 52-week high of $115.98 last September and a peak
market capitalization of $18 billion, the company is coming back
Green Mountain's stock has fallen by half this year and
currently trades around $21.50 in the wake of corporate
governance issues and an SEC investigation into its accounting
practices. Green Mountain is also fighting a shareholder lawsuit
alleging misrepresentation of growth in its earnings reports
and regularly finds itself the focus of criticism from
short-sellers betting against the stock.
"People are perplexed by Wall Street," said former Green
Mountain employee Gaelan Brown, who now works at a Burlington,
Brown said he knows many people in the state who also are
stockholders of Green Mountain because they were impressed by
the company's rapid growth. Now, he said, local shareholders
like himself are left scratching their heads, wondering why Wall
Street views Green Mountain with such disdain.
The company paid $11.3 million in taxes to four states where
it has operations, including Vermont. The company does not
provide a breakdown of state-by-state tax payments.
Betsy Bishop, president of the Vermont Chamber of Commerce,
said most companies in Vermont are small businesses, noting that
90 percent employ fewer than 20 individuals.
Green Mountain also has some big names backing it at home.
Hinda Miller, a Democratic member of the Vermont state
Senate, is on Green Mountain's board of directors.
Miller, who owns her own business consulting firm and was
one of the inventors of the sports bra, has been on Green
Mountain's board since 1999. Green Mountain and its founder,
Robert Stiller, along with his wife, Christine, each gave Miller
$300 during her 2004 state Senate bid.
In 2008, she co-sponsored a bill in the Vermont Senate
honoring Stiller and his role in making the coffee maker an
economic giant in the state.
Tomi Kilburn, an administrative assistant at the Central
Vermont Chamber of Commerce in nearby Berlin, said the Green
Mountain factory is popular enough that tourists coming through
the region ask about taking tours.
"When people come to Vermont, they think of three things:
coffee, cheese and ice cream," she said, referencing Ben and
Jerry's, another iconic Vermont business, which was bought by
Anglo-Dutch food and personal care conglomerate Unilever
, and cheese maker Cabot Creamery Cooperative. By
comparison, each of those companies has fewer than 1,000
Dick Heaps, a Westford, Vermont, consultant, said that 1,000
employee threshold is a major one.
"If you have 1,000 employees, you're a big deal up here," he
With competitors like Starbucks in the K-cup market and
crucial patent expirations looming, the company faces an uphill
All told, Bishop said: "I think Vermonters will always root
for a local company to do well," she said.
(Editing by Jennifer Ablan, Matthew Goldstein and Steve