Our Roots

Square Roots Collective is a new name but has been over 25 years in the making.

While the Square Roots Collective name is relatively new, its genesis was over 25 years ago when we moved to the Kennett Square area to launch Chatham Financial, a financial derivatives advisory and technology company. Our goal was to build a different kind of finance company that put the trust of its clients and employees ahead of profit. We never imagined we would grow to our current size of nearly 600 employees in 6 offices on 4 continents working with some of the largest companies around the world. We believe Chatham’s success has been driven by our dedication to creating a culture that encourages our clients and employees to thrive. This culture in turn has created the ability to attract truly amazing people to our area who are aligned in purpose and values.

Our Family
When I (Mike) started Chatham,we moved to Southern Chester County to be near family but along the way fell in love with the people, diversity, beauty, history and – perhaps because of the area’s rich Quaker heritage – the strong community spirit to love and care for everyone, regardless of background. I grew up the son of a Mennonite minister and Dot the daughter of a Mennonite dairy farmer and from an early age were both taught that faith needs to be demonstrated in all relationships. Christmas family picAnd it continues to be our faith today that inspires, grounds and motivates us. We so appreciate our rich heritage, which emphasized loving God, caring and striving for peace with others, and bettering the local community.

We raised our four daughters in the Borough, each graduating from Kennett High School. Our son-in-law is also a Kennett grad and is the first in his Mexican immigrant family to graduate from high school or college. He and our daughter (with our handsome grandson!) are pursuing real estate careers in Washington, DC. After college our second daughter spent two years in the Dominican Republic working for an education non-profit before returning to work at Square Roots in property management. helping a young girlHer fluency in Spanish has allowed her to provide comfort to our Spanish-speaking residents in Square Roots apartments. Our third daughter studied gerontology in college (study of the process of aging) and is currently working as an activities director at the Kennett Friends Home. Our fourth daughter is currently in college in North Carolina.

Starting Ventures
Over the years we have been highly vested in strengthening the social fabric of our community. Besides involvement in our kids’ schools and activities as well as our church family, we co-founded The Garage Community and Youth Center to give students a safe encouraging place after school. Dot was part of the team that founded the local chapter of Community Bible Study, an interdenominational study that today engages over 250 women in two chapters in Southern Chester County. We helped Chatham launch Together for Education, a non-profit that provides volunteers to over 35% of the elementary classrooms in the Kennett School District.

Over the years many of our investments in time and money were due to needs we saw or opportunities that arose that we believed could improve our community. Whether we sought to upgrade housing options, preserve historic structures or encourage community interaction, we had friends who shared our passions and joined to work on specific projects. Our dear friends Sandra and Joe Mulry shared our love for Kennett, our belief that we could make a difference, and our commitment to uniqueness and creativity. Sandra joined us full time to turn more of these ideas into reality while Joe spends many weekends and evenings joining her.

Square Roots Collective
After many years of operating each of these community focused non-profit and for-profit ventures on a disconnected and ad hoc basis, we are pulling them together into one organization whose interconnected mission is to encourage and enhance holistic thriving for all area residents and enhance a unique sense of place that we can all be proud of. Originally operating under the name “White Horse Group,” we have changed to “Square Roots Collective” to better reflect our dedication to the Kennett Square area. The name is a nod to our unique setting, the strength we find in our faith and our history, and the collection of enterprises, partnerships, and associations of like-minded people and organizations – both for-profit and non-profit, formal and informal – all united by a common mission to see holistic thriving for everyone in Kennett Square.

We feel fortunate to live and work in this town that has so many amazing people who aren’t content with the ordinary, who refuse to accept the status quo, and who are dedicated to seeing a community that works well for everyone. We have strong roots in this one square mile and believe that we collectively can do amazing things.

Mike and Dot Bontrager

Our Mission

Square Roots Collective is committed to advancing the community of Kennett Square so that all residents can thrive.