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December 22, 2015

Charity That Decorates Military Graves Relies on Founders' Firm

Wreaths Across America, a nonprofit that each holiday season places millions of dollars' worth of decorations on veterans' graves at Arlington National Cemetery and elsewhere, relies exclusively for supplies on a company owned by its founders, The Wall Street Journal writes. Sales to the remembrance charity account for 75 percent to 80 percent of revenue for Maine-based Worcester Wreath Co. and helped the firm survive the loss of its previous top customer, outdoor retailer L.L. Bean.

Wreaths Across America is led by members of the Worcester family, which owns the company, and former employees of the firm. Such a relationship could raise regulatory concerns if it benefits the business at the expense of the charity, according to the Journal. It has raised hackles among other Maine suppliers who say they could provide the wreaths at a lower price.

Wreaths Across America defended the arrangement, saying Worcester Wreath charges below-market prices and that family members and others with links to the firm recuse themselves from procurement decisions. The charity said it is considering seeking other bidders next year as it determines supplies for the 2017 Christmas season.