Yet Another Fan of Mike Kittredge

It’s always great to get feedback about blog entries. Here’s a letter from Elissa OConnor, who read the entry about Mike Kittredge, Dear Mike K, Thanks for the Ride. Elissa was the one who thought of having it snow all year round, and that’s still an important feature of the Yankee Candle flagship store:

“I just happened to stumble across your blog about Mike Kittredge and how things used to be at Yankee Candle. I’d like to share my two cents, as I’ve recently found the need to look for work again, and am sad to think that YCC wouldn’t be the same as it used to be..

I started as a candlemaker at YCC through a temporary employment agency in 1992, and was hired directly by the company at the end of my tenure with the agency. Back then, the candlemakers resided in the “flagship store” with viewing windows where customers could watch the candlemaking process, and the Christmas Shop was nonexistent.

I remember Mike K, who was always entertaining at the company breakfast,which was then a monthly event. He would occasionally appear at our regular friday pizza lunch as well, to catch up and give encouragement and praise to those of us in the trenches. It was heartwarming to see an employer who cared so much about those who worked for him.

I remember the announcement of his illness, during one breakfast, and we were all heartsick. But Mike perservered, and we saw him fight the good fight, and we fought along with him to make yankee candle the best it could be.

When plans were laid to begin construction of the new Christmas Shop, Mike encouraged us all to add our ideas, giving us free rein to share our childhood fantasies. We met with engineers and construction crew to develop those ideas into what is now today a true fantasy land. Im proud to have been a part of that process. When I mentioned how nice I thought it would be to see it snowing year round, I was met with a few quizzical looks but low and behold, there it is today.

Mike was also fond of pulling ideas from his employees in a unique and personal way. My former supervisor, and life long friend was invited to lunch with Mike one afternoon and he was treated to a ride in Mikes (Jaguar, I believe it was?) which was a treat in itself, but during the course of the conversation, he was able to voice his idea for a line of candles that reflected New Englands particular flavors. Thus the Maine Blueberry and Cape Cod Cranberry scents were born, among others. This I cannot verify, as I sadly wasn’t invited to lunch that day.

But Mike was always around, always happy to greet us with a wave and “how are ya”, and in my many years in the manufacturing field, I have yet to meet another company owner like him. The corporate world could learn a lot from him.”

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Steve Hartshorne
Stephen Hartshorne worked in newspapers and magazines around New England for many years and served as Information Officer in the New Hampshire Senate under Senate President Vesta Roy. He worked as a material handler for nine years at the Yankee Candle Company until the company was taken over by corporate weasels. He is currently the associate editor of GoNOMAD.com, an alternative travel website, which gives him the opportunity to correspond with writers and photographers all over the world. He lives in Sunderland, Massachusetts. This blog is dedicated to his mom, who made him bookish.
Steve Hartshorne

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