Thirteen longtime Seven Days employees are now 1 percent owners of the Burlington-based media company.
The newspaper's founders, Paula Routly and Pamela Polston, publicly announced the transition on Monday. The development is part of Seven Days' succession plan, which began in 2009 when three veteran staffers — Cathy Resmer, Don Eggert and Colby Roberts — were named junior partners. Routly and Polston founded the paper in 1995.
The 13 workers' 1 percent holdings, combined with the three minority owners' 12 percent, represent a 49 percent ownership stake in Seven Days, a company press release said.
"We wanted to make sure the company would continue beyond us," Polston said. "We have such a great team right now."
"We want to send a message that this is a viable business, and we're here to stay," Routly added. She maintains a 51 percent stake in the company.
The 13 shareholders are staff writers Paul Heintz and Ken Picard, assistant arts editor Dan Bolles, account executives Michael Bradshaw, Michelle Brown, Robyn Birgisson and Kaitlin Montgomery; marketing director Corey Grenier, production manager John James, art director Diane Sullivan, director of circulation Matt Weiner, chief proofreader and special publications manager Carolyn Fox, and senior multimedia producer Eva Sollberger.
All of the employees, except Weiner, have worked full time at the newspaper since 2012 or earlier. Weiner became full time in 2014 but has worked for the paper since 2006, when he was hired as a part-time delivery route driver while a student at the University of Vermont.
"I feel like it’s really rare to have the kind of effort that you put in at work [be] reciprocated by your employers," Weiner said. "I felt very blessed to be in this situation."
Birgisson, who has been with the company since January 2004, said she was "blown away" by the offer and said working for Seven Days "doesn't feel like work."
"I love what I do," she said. "Back in the day, working other places, [I would] get those Sunday night blues, like, Oh God, I gotta go to work on Monday. I've never felt that way."
Sullivan started at Seven Days in 1999, just four years after the paper began publication. Sullivan said she appreciates the company giving back.
"I've spent most of my adult life here," she said. "It's pretty cool, it's pretty great, it's pretty fabulous."
Weiner said being a part owner has instilled in him an even greater sense of responsibility to continue the company's success.
"It’s just incredible to see the impact Seven Days has on the community," he said. "That’s caused me absolutely tremendous pride to be a part of this."
Correction, January 6, 2020: A previous version of this story incorrectly reported that Weiner had graduated from UVM when he started at the paper. He was still a student at the time.