Left: Director of Operations KJ O'Grady. Right: Shipping Manager Elhadji Mbengue
Hiring was a challenge during COVID, but not for Gordini. Just as the world was shutting down, the glove maker in Essex Town was seeing demand soar.
And it wasn’t just for their winter gloves and mittens. People wanted gloves for gardening and pumping gas, too. Gordini makes those for Carhartt.
Director of Operations KJ O’Grady says Gordini experienced “exponential growth year after year during COVID.” So, the Vermont glove maker needed more workers. A Vermont Employment Growth Incentive (VEGI) grant helped them expand while creating a diverse workforce. Today more than half of their warehouse workers speak English as a second language, hailing from Moldova, Nepal, Senegal, Guinea, Dominican Republic, and Czech Republic.
When Gordini was first awarded a VEGI grant in 2018, the company had about 50 workers in Vermont. Today, they employ more than 100.
Without VEGI, the company says it would have kept part of its operation in the Green Mountains, but expanded elsewhere thanks to valuable incentive packages other states offer to businesses to move. Gordini says their VEGI grant helped them grow financially, allowing them in turn, to give back to their expanding workforce, the local economy, and their community.
O’Grady and Shipping Manager Elhadji Mbengue take great pride in their people. In addition to the VEGI grant, they say the family-friendly culture at Gordini helped them add those workers. In fact, they employ many members of the same family. “See(ing) employees bring in family means we are good to them,” said Mbengue.
O’Grady says Gordini works hard “to promote a work-life balance” and they are very flexible with time off during their off season (January through July). Like many employees with family outside the U.S., Mbengue takes advantage of that flexibility. He will go for several weeks to Senegal, but he says he will always come back. “I think I found my home”, he said – both in Vermont and at Gordini.