The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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July 25, 2012

Hobby Lobby has raised its own minimum wage by $1 an hour for 4 years

One company with a presence in the Four-State Area says its experience raising its own minimum wage hasn’t resulted in problems, and in fact, it has been rewarded.

Hobby Lobby Stores Inc., based in Oklahoma City, raised its minimum wage for full-time employees in April by $1 an hour, to $13 per hour. That was an increase of 8.3 percent.

If the company continues its trend next year, its starting wage for a full-time employee would be nearly double the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. Pay for part-time employees went to $9 per hour in April.

The company has more than 15,300 employees nationwide.

Vince Parker, director of training and customer service for Hobby Lobby, said Tuesday that this is the fourth year in a row the company has boosted wages by $1 an hour at the directive of CEO and founder David Green, who each year calls the raise “the right thing to do.”

“He believes our employees are the backbone of the company and need to be rewarded accordingly,” Parker said. “We have been a very successful company, and we want to share that success.”

Asked if raising the wage to that level has caused the retailer to lose its competitive edge, Parker said: “I don’t think it impairs us at all. We really feel like we get a better employee for that wage.”

Hobby Lobby is a privately held company and doesn’t release revenue or sales figures. According to Forbes magazine, the company has remained profitable and continued to grow not only during the period it was giving out annual raises of $1 an hour, but also during the recent recession.

Forbes reported that the company had sales of $1.8 billion for the fiscal year that ended in December 2007, and sales of $2.3 billion for the fiscal year that ended in December 2011. Sales last year grew nearly 4 percent, and the company climbed from 267th place among retailers at the end of 2007 to 194th at the end of 2011.

Parker said the company continues to grow at a time when other retailers are pulling back, and has been adding between 25 and 35 stores a year for the past several years. It expects to have more than 520 stores open by October, he said.

Hobby Lobby has stores in Joplin and Springfield, and several in Northwest Arkansas.

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