The ESOP Association Blog

Covering ESOPs and employee ownership

2015 AACE Awards Deadline

Reminder — the 2015 AACE Awards deadline for submissions is February 17, 2015! Information, guidelines, and entry forms are HERE. We’re looking forward to seeing this year’s entries.

Filed under: AACE - Annual Awards for Communications Excellence,

Upcoming February 2015 Events

Looking for an ESOP educational event? Here’s what’s going on in February.

Mid Atlantic Chapter – 2015 Winter Breakfast Meeting (Springfield, VA)

February 10, 2015
Mid Atlantic Chapter
2015 Winter Breakfast Meeting – MAC Chapter
Hosted by:  Mid South Building Supply
7941 Woodruff Court
Springfield, VA 22151
For more information contact Shelly Dennis at sdennis AT – 603.756.3441

Click to register for the Mid Atlantic Chapter meeting


Two Day Professional ESOP Forum (New Orleans, LA)

February 26 – 27, 2015
The Ritz-Carlton
New Orleans, LA

The ESOP Association is holding a two day open discussion forum for Professional Members of The ESOP Association. [Professional Members of The Association are sellers of services to ESOP plan sponsors and to parties considering creating an ESOP. Examples of the services are legal, third party administration, valuation, finance, management consulting, financial advice, trustee, and similar services.]

Led by the Chairs of the highly respected Association Advisory Committees on Valuation, Finance, Legislative and Regulatory Affairs, Administration, Ownership Culture and Fiduciary Issues, this two day program will lay bare the tough issues facing ESOP professionals, and present the pros and cons of different views.  The goal is not only to air different view-points, but to move towards consensus as to “best practices” by the ESOP service provider community.

Preliminary Agenda (12/15/2014)
Professional Forum Registration
For hotel reservations:

Group Link – Deluxe King Accommodations

Group Link – Deluxe Double Accommodations

Or call 1 (800) 826-8987 or go to and enter the following group codes.

Group Codes: SJFSJFA (Deluxe King Accommodations – $239) and SJFSJFB (Deluxe Double Accommodations – $239)

Questions: Contact Rosemary Clements or Maya Van Buren (866) 366-3832 or meetings AT



Southwest Chapter – 4th Annual ESOP Chili Cook Off (Irving, TX)

February 26, 2015
Southwest Chapter
4th Annual ESOP Chili Cook Off – Irving, TX
Hosted by:  Inland Truck Parts & Service
2339 E. Grauwyler Rd.
Irving, TX  75061
Please R.S.V.P. to: Butchs AT
For Chapter information contact Jim Schranz at 903.575.7345 or via e-mail at jschranz7 AT

Filed under: Chapter News, Conference Information, , ,

Reports are the Department of Labor Will Not Mandate ESOP Appraisers be ERISA Fiduciaries

On Monday, January 26, 2015, ESOP Association President, J. Michael Keeling, received a call from a senior official at the Department of Labor (DOL) regarding the proposed fiduciary rule noting it will not mandate that appraisers of private ESOP company stock be ERISA fiduciaries. (The rule was originally proposed in 2010.)

It’s generally known among DC groups that are following the DOL’s proposed fiduciary rule that the portion of the rule directed toward ESOPs will not be included in the re-proposed fiduciary proposal from 2010.

It should be noted, however, that the DOL will be looking for clarity and guidance on ESOP appraisals that are in accord with ERISA rules for private ESOP stock to be valued at fair market value, as defined by a ‘willing buyer/willing seller’ construct.

It should also be noted that while the above information on the re-proposal is now widely known, no specific proposed rule has been published yet. When published, we will let ESOP Association members know.

Filed under: DOL Proposed Fiduciary Regulation, Government Affairs

The ESOP Association Files Amicus in Supreme Court Case Tibble V. Edison Int’l

The ESOP Association sent out the following release today. We share it with readers here.

For Immediate Release: January 26, 2015

The ESOP Association Files Amicus in Supreme Court Case Tibble V. Edison Int’l

January 26, 2015 (Washington, DC) – On January 23, The ESOP Association filed an amicus curiae to the Supreme Court of the United States in the case Tibble v. Edison Int’l, No. 13-550.

President of The ESOP Association, J. Michael Keeling explains why the case is so important, “The Association is interested in the outcome of Tibble because it focuses on how the agencies that enforce laws and regulations governing ERISA plans, such as an ESOP (employee stock ownership plan), calculate the ERISA law that has a six year statute of limitation on when they, or plaintiff lawyers, can sue the sponsors and fiduciaries of an ERISA plan. If the Court sanctions the position of the petitioners, Tibble et. al, then any decision made at any time since the establishment of the ERISA plan can be deemed a violation of ERISA, even if the decision was made ten, fifteen, or even thirty years ago!”

In essence, petitioners are asking the Supreme Court to interpret an ERISA fiduciary’s duty to monitor prior decisions made more than six years ago, and decide if that long ago decision was not “right” in hindsight, or prudent to use the words of trustee law, and then, if the fiduciary does not unravel the long ago decision, s/he may be sued.

“Congress, in both ERISA and legislative history, in accordance with seven hundred years of common law principals, makes it clear that if a fiduciary’s decisions seemed prudent under the circumstances when made over six years earlier, is not to be second guessed,” President Keeling said. “To bring this into easily understood terms, in the Super Bowl several years ago, the referees maybe should have called pass interference on a reception in the end zone that resulted in Team A winning, and the NFL has decided to take the touchdown away, and declares Team B the winner,” he concluded.

The ESOP Association feels that if the Supreme Court negates the six year ERISA statute on limitations to sanction “Monday morning quarterbacking” by the regulatory agencies and/or plaintiff lawyers, many employers will back off establishing ESOPs and thus overall benefits for employee owners in their retirement years will be reduced.

Counsel for Amicus Curiae for The ESOP Association was Mayer Brown, LLP.


The ESOP Association is the national trade association for companies with employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs) and the leading voice in America for employee ownership. The core cause of The ESOP Association is the belief that employee ownership will improve American competitiveness, increase productivity through greater employee participation, and strengthen our free enterprise economy. More information: website – and blog –

More Information:

Amy Gwiazdowski


amy AT


Filed under: Government Affairs, , ,

ESOP Association Members Named Great Places to Work!

Congratulations to ESOP Association members Clif Bar & Co., Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, Inc., and W. L. Gore & Associates on being named to the 2015 Great Place to Work list. All three companies were honored in the People’s Picks: 15 Great Workplaces in Manufacturing & Production category. Take a look at the list.

More on each company

Clif Bar & Co.

Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, Inc.

W.L. Gore & Associates

15 Great Workplaces in Manufacturing & Production release

From the website: About Great Rated!™ – While organizations look to recruit and hire the right candidate, job seekers are equally interested in finding the right position at the right company. That’s why Great Rated!™ —the new survey-based workplace review website—from Great Place to Work® uses data and insights for a true picture of the workplace and elevates the hiring experience. Great Rated! organizations are serious about creating great workplaces, comfortable with transparency and interested in sharing the unique aspects treasured by employees.

About Great Place to Work® – Great Place to Work® is the global authority on high-trust, high-performance workplace cultures. Through proprietary assessment tools, advisory services, and employer branding programs, including Best Companies lists and workplace reviews, Great Place to Work® provides the benchmarks, framework, and expertise needed to create, sustain, and recognize outstanding workplace cultures. Great Place to Work®’s Trust Index©, a 58-question employee survey that measures trust, is used around the world to help companies increase the levels of trust across their organizations and improve business results. Annually, Great Place to Work® produces the annual FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work For® list and the Great Place to Work® Best Small and Medium Workplaces list.

Filed under: News Links, TEA Members, ,

January 2015 ESOP Report

The January 2015 ESOP Report newsletter is now available for members. To access this month’s issue, you’ll need to sign into The ESOP Association’s website. The Member Sign In button is located at the top of the page. To get to the ESOP Report, click Meet & Learn. A link to the ESOP Report is located on the left side menu.


Filed under: Member Services, Publication, , ,

Guest Post – 2015 AACE Awards

AACE 2015Since the deadline for the 2015 AACE (Annual Awards for Communications Excellence) Awards has been set (Tuesday, February 17, 2015), we thought it would be a good time to invite Paul Horn, volunteer coordinator for the AACE Awards Program, to talk about why the AACE Awards are important and why your company should enter.

 You can download a copy of the 2015 AACE Awards brochure and more information can be found on the Association’s website. Please take a close look as several categories have been updated for this year.


AACE is a great way to document your ESOP communications program and see how your company compares with other ESOP companies.

Are there ways to help your AACE submission stand out?

Be creative and think “outside the box.”  The AACE judges review numerous entries in a variety of categories.  Think of something different that will grab the judge’s attention.

Highlight your employees.  Active employee ownership is best evidenced with articles by and pictures of employees in action.

Homegrown education.  ESOP education and open book materials you develop yourself carry greater impact.  The more color you use, the more it will catch the eye.

Events.  Pictures and descriptions of company meetings and events are a great way to showcase your ownership spirit.  For example, meetings with elected officials, themed events, and community activities help make your submission memorable.  Make sure to document when the events occurred.

Fun.  Games, food, more games, and more food are always ESOP company favorites. The stranger the game, the more exotic the menu, and the greater the employee participation, the more likely your submission will stand out.

Organization.  Clearly document your category submissions. A display board and other company paraphernalia also will help draw attention to your materials.

Good luck and we look forward to receiving your 2015 AACE submissions.

Paul Horn is president of WorkPlace Consultants, LLC located in Bethesda, MD. He is a member of The ESOP Association’s Advisory Committee on Ownership Culture and a Chapter Officer of the Association’s Mid-Atlantic Chapter.

Filed under: AACE - Annual Awards for Communications Excellence, , ,

New Report Discusses Inclusive Prosperity

Last Thursday, the Center for American Progress released a new report, Report of the Commission on Inclusive Prosperity, that discusses the need for economic growth that ensures wealth is shared broadly. The report is authored by Lawrence H. Summers, the President Emeritus of Harvard University and Ed Balls, the Labour and Co-operative Member of Parliament, or MP, for Morley and Outwood and Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer in the British Parliament. They are the co-chairs of the Inclusive Prosperity Commission.

Of interest for ESOP advocates, the following was noted in the report:

“In the United States, specific policies that could help meet these goals include:

Increasing workers’ share of the economic pie, raise wages and incomes

  • Create tax incentives for companies to share profits with their workers in well-structured, broad-based profit-sharing programs and increase tax incentives for the formation of employee stock-ownership plans, or ESOPs.”

The full report can be found here.

The Center for American Progress press release on the report is here.

In 2013, the Center for American Progress released the report, Growing the Wealth: How Government Encourages Broad-Based Inclusive Capitalism, which also discussed the idea of inclusive capitalism. The 2013 report was authored by David Madland and Karla Walter. Ms. Walter, the Associate Director of the American Worker Project at the Center for American Progress, is a 2014-2015 Louis O. Kelso Fellow doing research in the employee ownership field. More info here.

Filed under: Economic Performance, , , ,

2015 Conference Sponsorship Opportunities

The ESOP Association has put together new conference sponsorship packages that allow Association members to reach the ESOP community more effectively. These are excellent opportunities to market your company and services at our highly popular conferences.

2015 Sponsorship Brochure

If you are interested in reserving a sponsorship package, please contact the national office at 202/293-2971 or send an email to meetings AT

Filed under: Conference Information,

How to Keep Up with Association Updates

With the start of the New Year, we wanted to share several options for staying on top of Association news.

Website: all information is posted to The ESOP Association’s website.  Check the ESOP Bulletin under Advocacy and the News section on the homepage for the most up-to-date information.

ESOP Association Blog: government affairs information will be posted to The ESOP Association’s Blog as it happens. There is a subscription feature on the homepage of the blog, sign up and you’ll be notified by email when new information is posted. You can also subscribe to the RSS feed.

Twitter: (the new place to talk to us!) interesting information and links will be shared with members and the public.

Facebook & LinkedIn: information and links to information are posted to the Association’s Facebook page and LinkedIn group and LinkedIn company page for members to stay involved.

YouTube Channel: when important information is announced, additional commentary is posted to the Association’s YouTube Channel.

Google+: videos are also posted to the Association’s Google+ profile

Email: emails to the membership will continue on important issues.

As always, as information breaks, you’ll be notified and the Association will continue to share information in several forms and places to reach members.

Filed under: Member Services

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