As the minimum wage debate moves forward, one business owner says her family-run company has raised its lowest wage to $15 – and is hiking it to $17 in April.
Earth Friendly Products’ Kelly Vlahakis-Hanks says her father’s company has gradually upped pay for its employees from $12 to $15. Starting on Earth Day, the made-in-America company, which manufactures green cleaning products, will increase its minimum wage by another two dollars to $17. Earlier this year, President Obama signed an executive order raising the minimum wage for federal workers from $7.25 to $10.10. He has also backed a plan that would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 for all workers by 2016.
“There [are] really two things we’re looking at: the humanitarian aspect and the business aspect,” says Vlahakis -Hanks in an interview with FBN’s Cheryl Casone. “On the business side of it, there [are] a lot of transactional costs when you have employee turnover -- when you don’t have retention.”
Vlahakis -Hanks says her father started the company after immigrating to the U.S. from Greece.
“He didn’t speak the English language. He lived in homeless shelters and really studied chemistry and started our company,” says Vlahakis -Hanks. “He knows what it takes to really work hard. He’s worked the factory lines; he knows that each and every employee is critical to our success.”
Vlahakis-Hanks says U.S. manufacturing – typically thought of as more expensive -- has actually helped the company afford higher salaries.
“We make it here in America. We have fine geographically diverse manufacturing facilities, so we cut down on shipping costs. So by making it ourselves, we cut out the middleman. We’re able to make our product, control our costs and deliver a product at a lower price point, but the highest level of green and pay these wages,” says Vlahakis-Hanks.