For more than 34 years, Patagonia has made on-site childcare services a priority for its employees. The outdoor apparel company continued this tradition with the grand opening of its newly expanded Truckee River Child Development Center (TRCDC).
“This is an incredible thing that we have here where businesses believe in their workforce and they prove it by putting together a child development center like this,” said Nevada Senator Catherine Cortez Masto at the grand opening event held on June 1.
The 8,000-square-foot facility provides childcare services to Patagonia’s nearly 500 Reno employees. Company and government officials, community members, employees as well as children cared for at the center gathered at TRCDC, located at 8550 White Fir St., to plant a tree in commemoration of the grand opening.
“At Patagonia, cutting a ribbon doesn’t exactly fit with our culture but planting trees does,” Rick Ridgeway, Patagonia’s vice president of public engagement, said at the event.
Patagonia first started investing in on-site childcare in 1983 at its Ventura, Calif., headquarters. Ridgeway explained that his wife, Jennifer, co-managed the marketing department at the time while also caring for their then 1-year-old daughter. It quickly proved difficult to care for their daughter in the office setting, so the co-founder of Patagonia, Malinda Chouinard, rented a trailer and hired a babysitter to provide the needed child care. The program has grown from there.
“Like all successful entrepreneurs Malinda was guided both by instinct and business acumen,” said Ridgeway. Chouinard had the instinct and knowledge that the program would create business value with employee recruitment, retention and loyalty, he added.
The business model has proven to be effective for the company as nearly 100 percent of women return to work at Patagonia after childbirth.
Patagonia’s President and CEO Rose Marcario said when she joined Patagonia nine years ago, she noticed a gender balance among the company’s executives and management staff that she had not seen at other companies. She later realized that this balance was due to the company’s workplace culture and child care services.
“When CEOs talk to me and say, ‘How can I get more women on my board? How can I get more women in management? I say start a child care center,’” Marcario said.
The TRCDC building previously housed the company’s Reno Outlet Store. Patagonia moved the store into the newly renovated 17,000-square-foot building on 130 S. Center St. in downtown Reno in order to expand the childcare center. The downtown store opened in November 2016.
“I am here to congratulate Patagonia because this is an example of how a company can really believe in its core values, which are supporting its working families and protecting the environment, how it can be done,” Cortez Masto said.
TRCDC serves children from ages 8 weeks to kindergarten. They currently have 24 children enrolled with a staff of eight. They are planning to open an additional infant and toddler room within the next year, which will bring the number of children up to 50.
“I can’t think of a better benefit to the atmosphere and a culture of a company,” Cortez Masto said.