Mike Hoffman, who retired Nov. 1 as chief executive of Toro Co., began at the company as an equipment-service representative in 1977. He worked his way through sales-and-management positions and was named CEO in 2005. Hoffman, 61, who also earned business degrees in night school, has worn blue and white collars. He remains the company’s chairman. Under Hoffman, Toro’s total return to shareholders rose 400 percent, far more than that of the S&P 500. Toro grew organically under Hoffman, who also diversified product offerings through acquisitions and focused on green technologies that consume less water and fuel. Toro posted record earnings of $231 million on sales of $2.4 billion last year.

Q: Where do employees line up in the list of Toro “stakeholders,” including customers and shareholders?

A: Our culture … starts with employees who care. Our people demonstrate that every day. Such employees are oriented toward doing more to serve customers by developing innovative products and services that drive market leadership. When you have people who care, and they take care of the customer, financial success ensues. Shareholder interests are also well served.

Read more: Retired Toro boss credits the worker-owners with much of company’s success – StarTribune.com