Moving On: Shouldice will leave The Vermont Country Store
By Bruce Edwards
STAFF WRITER | June 01,2012
From left, Eliot Orton, Bill Shouldice, Gardner Orton and Cabot Orton pose in front of The Vermont Country Store retail outlet in Weston. Shouldice will step down at the end of the year as president of the catalog and retail business, turning the reins back over to the Orton family.
After a seven-year run as head of The Vermont Country Store, Bill Shouldice will step down at the end of the year as president and CEO and turn the reins over to the Orton family.
Shouldice announced his plans Thursday to resign as head of the family-owned catalog and retail store business that was founded by Vrest and Ellen Orton in 1946.
“I was brought in … to really help the family to take the business to the next level,” Shouldice said during an interview Thursday. “That included building a management team, making strategic investments in the business and supporting the third generation (of Ortons) to be prepared to run The Vermont Country Store.”
With his goals accomplished, the 47-year-old Shouldice said it was time to pursue other interests and tap into his spirit as an entrepreneur.
“I’m going to allow my mind to really explore lots of things,” he said. “My hope is that I’ll find that in the state of Vermont as a fifth generation Vermonter.”
Prior to being named president and CEO of the Orton business, Shouldice ran the Orton Family Foundation for three years. His experience also includes serving as secretary of the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development.
When he leaves The Vermont Country Store, Shouldice said he’ll be leaving the company well positioned for the future.
He said the customer base as grown and sales last year were up more than 10 percent from the previous year.
“We made strategic investments in our people,” he said. “We made investments in technology and we made investments in our facilities.”
He said the Orton family was able to accomplish that without getting away from the “company’s values and guiding principles.”
Eliot Orton, chairman of the board, said Shouldice was instrumental in moving the company forward through a generational change in ownership.
“We needed Bill’s ability with the right touch to work with the family through that,” Orton said.
And while he didn’t come to the job with a background in retail, Orton said Shouldice is a fast learner and leader, who had the ability to learn the business while retaining “the values and the history of the business and not cast those things aside.”
Orton said no decision has been made on naming a new president and CEO. He said Chris Vickers, the chief merchandising and marketing officer will handle the day-to-day operations going forward. In addition, Jim Hall will continue in his role as chief financial and information officer.
Orton added as a family-owned business the company is not “hung up on titles.”
In addition to its landmark catalog of sundry and hard-to-find items, the Manchester-based company has retail locations in Weston and Rockingham and a distribution and call center in North Clarendon.