My late husband realized more than anything that the key to success was recognizing that each employee was an individual to be valued, dignified, and respected. From the start, Bernie Gelson knew that putting people first was an important part of the business model. When the first full line Gelson’s opened in 1951, Bernie invested in hiring more full-time employees, closing on major holidays so employees could spend time with their families, and offering a 100% guarantee of satisfaction on every item they sold.
I am beyond proud that Governor Brown signed legislation to raise the minimum wage in California to $15, and that it is in responsible incremental increases adjusted to inflation. What I am not proud of is the increased numbers of homeless. If small businesses, or any business for that matter, truly believe that this a bad deal and decide to lay off employees rather than pay a livable wage, then the numbers of unemployed will increase and we’ll see more destitute people and families on the streets.
These businesses have to remember what Gelson’s has made a core philosophy: employees are people. They have lives that deserve to be dignified by living wages and real employee-manager relationships. And as Gelson’s success has shown, it’s actually a win-win for everyone when employees are truly respected.
Employees are not the means to the end, but rather the most valuable asset of your company. So actually- they are the means, they are the end, they are the company.