Tax Cuts & Jobs Act benefits employees at Shelton’s Farm Market

NILES — If Shelton’s Farm Market doles out bonuses for their employees, it is typically during the holiday season. But this year, employees got a surprise at the beginning of the year when they received bonuses resulting from a profitable 2017 year and economic optimism spurred by the federal tax reform.

Joe Shelton, one of the business’ partners, said the market just wanted to share the wealth.

“We just feel that there is a sense of underlying optimism in the economy and we share in that and we want our crew to have that same feeling,” Joe said. “And we want to reward them for past efforts, so we thought a bonus based upon their longevity and loyalty with the company would be a good way to express that.”

Bonuses were based on longevity of the market’s roughly 80 employees. Full-time employees received about $50 for each year that they have worked for the market, with the highest payout being a 40-year employee who received $2,000. Average payout for full-time employees was in excess of $500. Part-time workers also got some extra cash. Those who had worked for the market for six months received $50, while employees who had been there less time got a $25 bonus.

Greg Wright is a 10-year employee with Shelton’s, who helps to manage multiple departments throughout the market. He said the bonus he received was a pleasant surprise that will be put to good use covering some of his family’s bills. He also said the timing of the bonus was ideal, because his wife is currently on unpaid maternity leave. If there is any money left over, Wright said he hopes to splurge a bit.

“I might even take my wife out to eat,” Wright said.

Shelton’s Farm Market is not the only Michiana business to offer bonuses in the wake of the federal tax reforming and burgeoning profits. Lowe’s in Niles and First Source Bank in South Bend were also reported to be offering similar benefits to employees.

While Joe said they cannot predict at this time what the market will save from the tax cuts, he said that it was nice to know that people might have a little extra money in their pockets to spend on a few things outside their routine expenditures. He said he hopes to see this stimulating the economy more. Perhaps, he said, a few more people might even choose to eat out and order fresh produce, so the money goes back to the local economy.

Shelton’s Farm Market has been in operation for nearly 71 years, selling farm produce, deli meats, cheeses and garden plants, as well as other grocery items. The wholesale division of the business also sells to restaurants, stores and corporations within a 150-mile radius. Looking to the future, Joe said he expects the tax reform to produce benefits for the market.

“We think that the tax cuts are going to allow more profits to flow to the bottom-line that we can use for expanding the business and rewarding our crew,” Joe said.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was signed into law by President Donald Trump on Dec. 22, 2017. Co-owner Jim Shelton said he has heard the reform criticized for offering merely “crumbs,” to the American people. But to the average American, a couple thousand dollars could make all the difference, he said.

“A couple thousand is not crumbs,” Jim said. “I think the biggest thing we feel is optimism. You tie that together with a decent year. We are not supposed to have decent years, we are independent.”

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