The ESOP Association Blog

Covering ESOPs and employee ownership

Dates Announced for the 2015 Employee Owner Retreat


The Employee Owner Retreat is a course in capitalism for average pay employees that enhances each participant’s understanding of, and contribution to, her or his ESOP company. Faculty is from the Ohio Employee Ownership Center, which is affiliated with Kent State University. The Employee Owner Retreat is an educational program sponsored by the Employee Ownership Foundation.

August 13-15, 2015
Double Tree Suites-Downers Grove
2111 Butterfield Road
Downers Grove, Illinois  60515

Registration information will be available on the website in the coming weeks.

Questions: Contact Maya Van Buren 202/293-2971, meetings AT or Chris Cooper at the Ohio Employee Ownership Center 330/672-0338, ccooper1 AT

Filed under: Employee Ownership Foundation,

NEWS: Cindy Turcot Elected Chair of The ESOP Association – Mark R. Lomele to Become Chair of the Employee Ownership Foundation

The ESOP Association and the Employee Ownership Foundation sent out the following releases today.

esop-logo-large1.jpgFor Immediate Release: May 1, 2015

Cindy Turcot Elected Chair of The ESOP Association

Members Installed to Board Positions

May 1, 2015 (Washington, DC) – Cindy Turcot, Chief Operating Officer of Gardener’s Supply Company located in Burlington, Vermont, has been elected to serve as Chair of The ESOP Association. 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.

Ms. Turcot is an active member of The ESOP Association and the Association’s New England Chapter. She has served on The ESOP Association’s Board as Vice Chair for the last two years. Her term as Chair begins May 1, 2015 and will continue until April 30, 2017.

“Cindy has been active in the ESOP community and with the Association for many years,” said ESOP Association President, J. Michael Keeling. “Her contributions have increased the effectiveness of Association services and we are excited Cindy will be the Chief Elected Officer of the Association and the primary driver of the Association’s mission to advocate and educate for employee ownership for the next two years.”

In addition to Ms. Turcot’s election to Chair: David Fitz-Gerald, Vice President & CFO, Carris Reels, Inc., Proctor, Vermont will become Vice Chair; Raman Venkat, Office of the CEO/CFO, LeFiell Manufacturing Company, Santa Fe Springs, California will become Secretary/Treasurer; David L. Kelly, Vice President & Chief Financial Officer, Acadian Ambulance Service, Inc., Lafayette, Louisiana will become Immediate Past Chair. Mark R. Lomele, Senior VP & CFO, Recology, San Francisco, California will become Chair of the Employee Ownership Foundation. Joining the Association’s Board as At-Large Board Members representing corporate members: Cindy Lewis, President/CEO, AirBorn, Inc., Georgetown, Texas and Michael Willard, CEO, Salem Distributing Company, Inc., Winston Salem, North Carolina. Joining the Board as an At-Large Board Member representing a professional member: Linshuang Lu, Consultant, Praxis Consulting Group, Inc., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Returning Board Members: Tony Lessmeister, Manager/Integration & Configuration Center, Forsythe Technology, Inc., Skokie, Illinois, Chair of the State and Chapter Regional Council; Peter J. Shuler, Manager, Crowe Horwath LLP, Columbus, Ohio, Chair of the Advisory Committees Chairs Council.

The Board of Directors is the premier governing body of The ESOP Association. Seven members of its ten person Board of Directors are elected by the Association’s Board of Governors who are elected by Association members.


FoundationFor Immediate Release: May 1, 2015

Mark R. Lomele Elected Chair of the Employee Ownership Foundation

May 1, 2015 (Washington, DC) – The Employee Ownership Foundation announced today that Mark R. Lomele, Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Recology located in San Francisco, California, will take over as the new Chair of the Foundation. The Employee Ownership Foundation is a 501(c)(3) Foundation dedicated to promoting employee ownership and is an affiliate of The ESOP Association, a national trade association for employee owned companies.

Effective May 1, 2015, Mr. Lomele will take the wheel from outgoing Chair Frieda S. Takaki, President and Chief Executive Officer of CHART Rehabilitation of Hawaii, Inc. located in Honolulu, Hawaii who served as Chair of the Employee Ownership Foundation for the past four years. Ms. Takaki will become the Immediate Past Chair of the Employee Ownership Foundation.

Mr. Lomele is active in the California/Western States Chapter of The ESOP Association and has served in several leadership positions as a member of The ESOP Association. He has been very active as a Foundation Trustee and from 2011– 2013, Mr. Lomele served as Chair of The ESOP Association.

“We are excited Mark will be taking over as Chair of the Employee Ownership Foundation,” said J. Michael Keeling, President of the Employee Ownership Foundation. “He is a dynamic leader with new ideas to lead the Foundation forward.”


The Employee Ownership Foundation supports research, education, and public awareness of programs that will increase the level of understanding and appreciation of the benefits of employee ownership and increase the number of employees who have access to this benefit. For more information: The Employee Ownership Foundation is The ESOP Association’s affiliated 501 (c)(3) organization dedicated to promoting employee ownership.

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



Filed under: Employee Ownership Foundation, TEA Members,

Ready Your Bids – Foundation to Hold Silent Auction at the 38th Annual Conference


On May 7 & 8, 2015, the Employee Ownership Foundation will hold a silent auction at The ESOP Association’s 38th Annual Conference in Washington, DC to benefit the Foundation and to support Foundation programs that aim to increase awareness of employee ownership in America.

The list of auction items so far:

  • Eileen Fisher $250 Gift Card
  • Gift Card from Dansko, Inc.
  • Two Gift Baskets from Superior Farms
  • BEATS Speaker
  • BEATS Adaptive Noise Cancelling Headphones
  • $200 Gift Certificate from Gardener’s Supply Co.
  • Gift Basket from The King Arthur Flour Company
  • Gift Basket from New Belgium Brewing Company, Inc.
  • Gift Basket from Harpoon Brewery
  • FitBit
  • Wine Glasses from Mountain Hardware

Come prepared to bid on a favorite prize and support the Foundation and employee ownership in America!

More information as well as Conference registration can be found here.

Join us Washington, DC for a celebration of employee ownership!

Filed under: Conference Information, Employee Ownership Foundation, ,

Why You Should Attend the 38th Annual Conference

esop-slide-template - 2015 Annual Conference

Thinking of attending the ESOP Association’s Annual Conference in May? Here are a few reasons to join us.


AACE Awards Exhibition

AACE Awards 6

Connect with employee owners and take the opportunity to view the creativity on display


Talk with winners and network with AACE entrants to brainstorm ownership communications ideas


Annual Awards Ceremony — Celebrate Employee Ownership!

Ownership Culture & Technical Education on ESOPs


Take a look at the preliminary agenda

Don’s pass up this opportunity to gain ESOP insight


Learn from your ESOP peers


Support the Employee Ownership Foundation


We’ve got some great prizes lined up for the silent auction!



The Renaissance Washington Hotel

999 9th Street, NW

Washington, DC



Wednesday, May 6, 2015

7:00 PM, Grand Ballroom


May 7 – 8, 2015



Filed under: AACE - Annual Awards for Communications Excellence, Conference Information, Employee Ownership Foundation, Employee Ownership Message,

Employee Ownership Foundation to Hold Silent Auction


Joining us at the 2015 Annual Conference (May 7 & 8) in Washington, DC this year? If so, stop by the Employee Ownership Foundation table! The Foundation will be hosting a silent auction to help support Foundation programs to increase the level of awareness of employee ownership in America.

More information on the silent auction — and exciting prize information as well! — will be available in the coming weeks. Stay tuned…


Filed under: Conference Information, Employee Ownership Foundation,

March 2015 Wrap-Up

Miss something in March? We have it all here in this month’s link round up.

An ESOP question answered

ESOP transactions survey

2015 AACE Award winners announced

March 2015 ESOP Report newsletter was published

Issue Brief #23 was updated

The 2015 Annual Conference preliminary agenda was released

The Outside Board Registry was updated for March

Four ESOP Association members were named among the top 100 places to work

The Department of Labor seeks comments on Proposed Regulation on the Definition of Adequate Consideration

Proposed topics were announced for the Annual Conference

We talked about the Employee Ownership Foundation’s impact on the national debate

Annual Conference sponsorships are available

Filed under: AACE - Annual Awards for Communications Excellence, Conference Information, Employee Ownership Foundation, Member Services, TEA Members,

ESOP Transactions

The Employee Ownership Foundation, the affiliated foundation of The ESOP Association, is collaborating with the National Center for Employee Ownership (NCEO) on ESOP transactions metrics. If you would like to participate in this survey, please see below.

Following is an explanation provided to the Foundation by the NCEO.

Share Your Data: The ESOP Transaction Survey

The NCEO requests the help of current ESOP companies to share some core measures of their ESOP transactions, such as the types of service providers involved, the percentage of shares, and the broad cost range.

You can learn more about the survey and then fill it out here. It should take no more than 15 minutes and requires minimal research, if any.

Your responses will be completely confidential, and the NCEO will release only aggregate results to avoid any exposure for individual companies or even small groups of companies.

The NCEO’s goal is to publish an easy-to-find document that can help business owners considering an ESOP ask the right questions and maximize the chances that companies end up with the best transaction for their situation.

Contact Nancy Wiefek at the NCEO (NWiefek AT nceo.org510-208-1312) with questions.

Filed under: Employee Ownership Foundation, , ,

More Evidence of Foundation’s Impact on National Debate

The following article originally ran as the President’s Page column in the February 2015 issue of the ESOP Report, the newsletter of The ESOP Association.

More Evidence of Foundation’s Impact on National Debate

The first time I walked into a meeting of ESOP Association leaders, after spending many years around the legislative/political process in both the State of Texas and Washington, DC, I noted something differ­ent about the men’s thinking. [Sidebar: In those days, the leadership was all male.] They had two passions, not the typical one of most trade associations I had worked with prior to walking through that door to an ESOP Association governance meeting.

Yes, the men all expressed sincere, animated, inter­est in making sure that the laws that encouraged the creation and operation of ESOP companies remained in place or were improved. In other words, like most interest groups I had been around in my career up to that point, they were looking inward, at their own company, their own company’s bottom line, and at their own way of doing things in their company — the so called “style” or “culture” of the company they loved.

In hearing these expressions of self-interest, my thought was, “Yep, I have heard talk like this from many.”

But soon, I began to hear something different from these men; something one is more likely to hear at a cause oriented group — Common Cause, Right to Life, MoveOn, TEA Party, are examples, left and right — that the Association had to make employee ownership through the ESOP model national policy. Loved by the media; loved by the President; loved by the Congress; loved by academia; loved by think tanks, etc.

This cause orientation of the ESOP community has never gone away. As there are more ESOPs and more people experiencing the power of working and man­aging a well-run ESOP company, it grows bigger and more heartfelt.

This cause orientation led to the adoption of the Association’s Vision statement in 1993, and it has never really been changed. Our Vision is that the United States be a nation where a great majority of employees own stock in the companies where they work so that we have a catalyst for economic prosper­ity and employees can share in the wealth they help create.

Well the two orientations: work like heck to make sure ESOP tax benefits that enrich the ESOP company and the ESOP employees remain in place, and expand the benefits when possible, and spend resources and time to do outreach to the non-ESOP world, are not easily accommodated with the amount of money the Association collects each year. And believe me, if we said we were not going to pay attention to what the Congressional tax commit­tees were doing to tax laws impacting ESOPs because our modest resources and small number of staff were too busy putting on pro­grams convincing non-ESOP companies to be ESOPs, and paying big bucks to a national PR firm to infil­trate TV networks, major newspapers, etc. to only run positive ESOP stories, I suspect the ESOP world would dry up pretty quickly.

So, how to accomplish both passions? One, the nation is not going to love ESOPs if yours truly runs around the nation talking about how great ESOPs are; or writing pos­itive op-ed pieces for major newspapers; or having social media post­ings by thousands of ESOP fans to some elected official. No, when an ESOP advocate sings the praises of ESOPs to a non-believer, that non-believer’s response is “Duh, what does one expect from a self-serving ESOP fan; honest critique when there is ample evidence of ESOP companies, small, medium, and large, going bankrupt and employees getting zero for retirement?”

Key is knowing how big national policy develops in our nation. The typical pathway is academics, and men and women working in think tank who get interested in the issue. They do papers. The papers get published. They get jobs in think tanks and universities focusing on their published papers and research. They get tenure at their schools, or move from one school to another with more prestige.

If Democrats, when a Democrat becomes President, some are hired to work in the bowels of Treasury, Office of Management and Budget, or even on the direct White House staff, say the Council of Economic Advisors. Then their “team,” in my example, the Democrats lose, and the Republican team takes over and hires new people for jobs those Democrats had. Then in four, eight, twelve, sixteen years later, the Democrats win, and those young men and women who worked in these policy jobs years earlier, now come back at higher levels.

For example, many of the top advisors in the Obama Administration worked in the Clinton Administration at levels lower than what they have now.

For example, many of the top advisors to President George W. Bush’s Administration worked in his father’s, or the Reagan Administration in lower level jobs.

Where I am I headed with this commentary?

And what does the Employee Ownership Foundation have to do with it?

Well recently, the leftist think tank the Center for American Progress (CAP) had a summit, led by big name economic policy advisors. Summit leaders were a former Secretary of Treasury under President Clinton, and who was also a major advisor to President Obama in his first term; and a high official of the British government, Larry Summers and Ed Balls respectfully. The other fifteen summiteers developing recommendations to improve the economy mainly in the US were former Democratic governors, top news­paper commentators, economic advisors to President Clinton, and the list can go on.

What did the group recommend in their final report? Broad-based ownership, and mentioned ESOPs spe­cifically as a policy to increase broad-based ownership.

Big news because as a general rule, the so-called left has not touted employee ownership, except in rare instances by someone such as Senator Sanders of Vermont; but now it is front and center, among a liberal leaning think tank’s set of recommendations.

And by the way, the former head of the Office of Management and Budget under President Obama, Peter Orszag, published for Bloomberg an article on January 20 saying that President Obama should push to expand employee ownership, citing the book, The Citizen’s Share, by Rutgers Professors Blasi and Kruse, and Harvard professor Freeman.

What did the Employee Ownership Foundation have to do with these actions by big thought leaders endorsing more employee ownership? The Foundation did not have anything to do with the CAP summit; the Foundation had no role in any writing of The Citizen’s Share; no one in the Foundation ever said any­thing to Dr. Orszag.

But people at CAP in working slots that develop materials for men and women who made decisions at the summit have liaised with the Rutgers program which the Foundation supports, among others, with over $75,000 a year; The Citizen’s Share set forth findings, among many, that in some instances were developed with grants from the Foundation, such as grants to the National Center for Opinion Research’s quadrennial General Social Survey.

Public policy is not embedded in a nation by one magic moment. Reaching goal B is often not a straight line from A. Major changes in policy often take zig-zag routes over a long period.

But what was put forth by the CAP summit, and what Dr. Orszag said in that Bloomberg article had in a way, be it minor or major, outcomes for which the Foundation and its supporters can say, “Progress is being made in our journey to make our Vision real — and we, our Foundation, played a role.”


We have shared this video before but thought it was a fitting end to this column…

Filed under: Employee Ownership Foundation, Publication, , , ,

February 2015 Wrap-Up

Miss something? We’ve got you covered.

We shared a list of upcoming Chapter events for March.

Don’t forget — the Edmunson Scholarship deadline is March 6!

Find your ESOP Chapter.

ESOP Association President, J. Michael Keeling, talked about the importance of inviting your member of Congress to visit your ESOP company.

The ESOP Association submitted comments to the Senate Committee on Finance Tax Reform Working Group regarding tax reform.

Déjà Vu? Tax Reform in the Senate?

Download your copy of the February 2015 ESOP Report.

Edmunson Scholarships are open for applications.

We shared some ESOP company news.

Updated publication –> Your ESOP: It’s for all of us.

A thank you to Chapter leader, Gale Marett

The Employee Ownership Month Poster Contest opened for submissions.

The ESOP Association submitted comments to the House Ways and Means Committee regarding the state of the U.S. economy and policies that can promote job creation and economic growth.

We shared some tips for winning AACE.

The ESOP Association expressed disappointment once more over a provision in President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2016 budget that pertains to ESOPs.

Filed under: Chapter News, Employee Ownership Foundation, Employee Ownership Message, Employee Ownership Month (EOM), Government Affairs, Publication, TEA Members,

2015 Edmunson Scholarships Deadline Approaching

FoundationThe Employee Ownership Foundation is now accepting applications for the 2015 Charles R. Edmunson Scholarships. Deadline is March 6, 2015. Application information is on the Employee Ownership Foundation website or download the application form: 2015 Edmunson Application.

This Scholarship program honors employee ownership leader and advocate Charles R. Edmunson who dedicated a significant part of his life to educating employee owners of the benefits of widespread ownership in a free enterprise system. Mr. Edmunson was also instrumental in the creation of the Employee Ownership Foundation.

An Edmunson Scholarship awards an ESOP employer up to $1,250 to defray the expense of sending employee owners to employee ownership training programs such as the Employee Ownership Foundation’s Employee Owner Retreat or the Association’s Annual Conference in Washington, DC. The Scholarship may also be used for Association Chapter and Regional Conferences. The Scholarship is for non-managerial employee owners.

Filed under: Employee Ownership Foundation,

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