McKay Nursery Company (A, B)  - CLEO Skip to main content


McKay Nursery Co., founded in 1897 in Waterloo, WI, had a longstanding history of commitment to employees. The close-knit organization was a pioneer in the agricultural industry of several employee-friendly policies. But in the early 1980s, as McKay’s owners grew older and senior management neared retirement, the next generation of managers feared for the future of the profitable, debt-free company. Middle manager Griff Mason and his colleagues were concerned McKay might become the target of a hostile takeover, which would move the company out of the community that had supported it for nearly a century. They wondered what they might do to keep the company in Waterloo and continue to retain its employees, nearly half of whom were migrant workers. Teaching Purpose: Allows students an opportunity to explore ownership transition issues for small, privately held businesses. Should they consider employee ownership? Also provides for discussion of human resource issues specific to a seasonal workforce. What can be done to curb the typically high turnover and uncertainty in this segment of the labor force?