The ESOP Association Blog

Covering ESOPs and employee ownership

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,

Been There; Done That. Does It Have to Be?

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.

Human nature is often an enemy of enthusiasm. By this statement I mean it is normal for a mature ESOP company to react with a ‘been there, done that,’ attitude when pondering how to keep the enthusiasm for employee ownership vibrant among the company employees.

In recent years, when I visit ESOP companies, I often find myself talking to company executives, ESOP committee members, or HR professionals of a company that has had an ESOP for 10, 15, 20, 25, or even more years.

Often, here is the story I hear:

“Well, when we finally put the ESOP in place, needless to say, we were somewhat focused on the details of being sure we met the law and regulations. We were somewhat surprised how creating the ESOP tapped our resources, both money and time wise.

We had our ESOP advisors, and felt that they could keep us posted on all we needed to know.

We told the employees we had an ESOP, but most just scratched their heads, wondering what kind of scheme had been cooked up, as no one was seeing any extra money in her or his pocket.

In sum, we were what one might say a “sleepy” ESOP, assuming that employees would be excited about being owners, and would want to do more and be better.

After some employees left vested, and others saw that the person did get real value, interest seemed to perk up, and we could sense the employees wanted to be more attuned to what this ESOP and their role in being a beneficial owner meant.

So in about year five or so, we began to have employees exposed to other men and women like them at Association Chapter meetings, the national Annual Conference, and the Foundation’s Employee Owner Retreat, for example.

Top level executives, and average pay employees saw the AACE entries, heard about winners of AACE, ESOP Company of the Year, Employee Owner of the Year, attended the Annual Awards Banquet. Some employees became the ‘champions’ for making sure others in the company knew we were special, and everyone would benefit the better if we maximized the human side of ESOPs as a company.

So we entered AACE. We put in applications for awards with our Chapter and thus nationally. We created an ESOP communications committee; we made sure average pay employees were at meetings, networking with others in ESOP companies, and going to break out sessions about ownership culture and the human side of ESOPs.

But after five years or more of going, going, entering, entering, it sort of became old hat all of this intangible ‘love’ of being ESOP.

We need a revival so to speak. We are a good company, don’t get me wrong; but we just wonder if all of this ‘going, participating, entering’ stuff is worth it as we have been down that road, and we do not regret it; but the enthusiasm is gone.”

Well, after hearing this story, I do not jump up and down preaching that persistence is the key to an ESOP company maximizing their ownership structure; persistence is in keeping the enthusiasm alive. But the truth is each company, for many different reasons — growth, or new employees, or new business initiatives — needs to be engaged with the ESOP community year in and year out.

Accepting that the ‘old’ stuff has no more intrinsic value can diminish the subjective impact that being employee-owned has on a better performing company, with a more dedicated, and a more experienced work force, that builds wealth for all.

So, exposing ESOP people to the various tactics used to build a good company, learning about new tactics not used before, is a major way to end ennui that can arise in a mature ESOP company.

Filed under: Employee Ownership Message, Member Services, Publication, , , ,

New Study Shows Big Returns for S ESOPs

A new study by the Employee-Owned S Corporations of America (ESCA) shows that S ESOPs outperformed the S&P 500 Total Returns Index in terms of total return per participant by an impressively large margin (62%), net assets increased over 300%, and distributions to participants totaled nearly $30 billion from 2002 to 2012. The data was compiled by EY’s Quantitative Economics and Statistics (QUEST) practice.

Take a look at the press release here.

Filed under: Employee Ownership Message,

An ESOP Question Answered

At a March 18, 2015 Education & the Workforce Hearing with Department of Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, Congressman Brett Guthrie (R-KY) asked the Secretary about ESOPs. Below is Secretary Perez’s response.

Watch the video.

We plan to share this clip with our Kentucky members, but given the recent, and ongoing, discussions with the Department of Labor regarding ESOPs, we thought we’d share with our readers here.

Filed under: Employee Ownership Message, ,

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,

January 2015 Monthly Wrap-up

As it turns out, January was a busy month…

We noted some upcoming events for February

We reported that the Department of Labor will not mandate ESOP appraisers be ERISA fiduciaries

The ESOP Association filed an amicus in Supreme Court case Tibble V. Edison Int’l

ESOP Association members were named Great Places to Work!

The January 2015 ESOP Report was published

We shared a guest post from AACE Awards Volunteer Coordinator, Paul Horn – 2015 AACE Awards

We highlighted a new report from the Center for American Progress that discusses inclusive prosperity

2015 conference sponsorship were announced

We mentioned a few ways to keep up with Association updates

2015 AACE Awards category information was shared

The Two Day Professional ESOP Forum was announced

The ESOP Administration Handbook was highlighted

ESOP Experts 2015 – If you’re interested, more info here

2015 AACE Awards — we told you what you need to know to enter this year

Filed under: AACE - Annual Awards for Communications Excellence, Chapter News, Conference Information, DOL Proposed Fiduciary Regulation, Employee Ownership Message, Government Affairs, Member Services, Publication, Retirement Issues, TEA Members,

Employee Ownership Month 2014 Re-Cap (Part 2)

The ESOP Association and its members celebrated Employee Ownership Month (EOM), a tribute to the tremendous spirit of employee ownership, throughout the month of October. Following is a re-cap of events shared with the Association and events shared via social media. We’ll be posting additional stories and photos on The ESOP Association Blog this week. Have EOM info to share? Email:

Harpoon Brewery in Boston, Massachusetts, a new ESOP and new member of The ESOP Association, shared a custom-etched glass with employee owners — cheers to employee ownership! — and talked EOM on the company website.

What Employee Ownership Means to Harpoon Brewery

Harpoon Brewery EOM glasses

M. Griffith Investment Services, Inc. in New Hartford, New York might be a new ESOP but went all out this year. From COO Cathy Cucharale: As a fairly new ESOP company (formed June 2012), we held our very first, month-long national Employee Ownership Month! It was a huge success. Our ESOP Ambassadors put together a great program and we had one of our talented employees draw up all of the icons for each event. The employees enjoyed it so much they are already talking about next year!

M. Griffith Investments Employee Ownership Month 2014

Murray Securus in Lancaster, Pennsylvania invited 2014 Employee Owner of the Year, Steve Earle of MidSouth Building Supply in Springfield, Virginia, to speak to Murray employee owners. Steve also presented Matt Pfeiffenberger of the Pennsylvania/Delaware Chapter with the Chapter Employee Owner of the Year Award.

Murray Securus EOM

Newton Manufacturing Company in Newton, Iowa welcomed employee owners with an Appreciation Breakfast and each employee owner was given a mug in celebration of Employee Ownership Month.

Newton Manufacturing EOM 2014 Facebook Post

Recology of San Francisco, California, shared a blog post about their Employee Ownership Month events which include an annual raffle to build employee ownership pride and honoring outstanding employee owners with Employee of the Year Awards.

Recology EOM Blog post

Restek Corporation in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania invited a few local ESOP companies to share their ownership ideas and talk about their companies. Greg Myers and Andy Ferrari of C.S. Davidson Company in York, Pennsylvania shared their company history, history of the company’s ESOP, and how their ESOP Committees are structured. Restek also received a Certificate of Special Recognition from Senator Patrick Toomey (R-PA) commemorating October as ESOP Month.

Restek CS Davidson EOM Event 2014 - 2 Restek CS Davidson EOM Event 2014 Restek Toomey Certificate for EOM

Rex-Cut Abrasives in Fall River, Massachusetts, hosted the company’s annual TEAM Day on October 7th to celebrate Employee Ownership Month. James Lamond, the New England Chapter’s Employee Owner of the Year, also received his Chapter Award at the celebration.


TEAM Software in Omaha, Nebraska talked about employee ownership on the company blog.

Team Software EOM 2014

Transitions Group in Wichita, Kansas celebrated Employee Ownership Month with Tailgate Parties in all 10 of the company’s locations. They also held an ESOP 101 course for 30 employee owners at the company’s Wichita location which was videotaped and shared with the other locations.

 Transistions Group EOM

Wiley|Wilson in Lynchburg, Virginia sent out a release announcing the company’s celebration of employee ownership and talked about planned activities.

Wiley Wilson EOM

This is only a glimpse of the celebrations held by members over the last few weeks, and by all accounts, it was a successful EOM 2014! If you have a story to share, we’d love to hear it. Email us:

Filed under: Employee Ownership Message,

Employee Ownership Foundation Lunch Video

We wanted to share with our readers a video that debuted at The ESOP Association’s Las Vegas Conference & Trade Show last week. The following video aired at the Employee Ownership Foundation Luncheon held on Thursday, November 13, 2014 and highlights a few of the Foundation’s projects in 2014 as well as media coverage of the book, The Citizen’s Share by Dr. Joseph Blasi, Dr. Richard Freeman, and Dr. Douglas Kruse.


Filed under: Employee Ownership Foundation, Employee Ownership Message, , ,

ESOPs on YouTube

On The ESOP Association’s website, there are links to some great videos by ESOP Association members. These videos provide a laugh, some thoughtful introspection on being part of an ESOP company, and the benefits of being employee owned.  There are also a few policy based videos as well that bring a different perspective to the conversation.  In the spirit of sharing the ESOP message during Employee Ownership Month, we thought we’d share the link to let you see for yourself what a creative bunch ESOP people are.  Keep in mind, this is just a sample, there are MANY more out there.

You can find the list here.

Social Networking ESOPs and YouTube TEA page 2

NOTE: If you’re a member of The ESOP Association and would like us to highlight your video on The ESOP Association’s website and on the Employee Ownership Blog, please send an email to media AT with a link to the video and we’ll include a link.

Filed under: Employee Ownership Message, Employee Ownership Month (EOM),

More on Employee Ownership Month Proclamations

Yesterday, we posted some of the 2014 Employee Ownership Month (EOM) proclamations that have been shared with the Association. Today, we thought we’d offer a few tips on securing a proclamation.

Ask Your Elected Officials to Issue a Proclamation

A proclamation is an easy way to alert your elected officials to ESOPs in their community, district, or state. A proclamation is issued by a legislative body designating an official observance of EOM. You can ask your mayor, state representative, or governor to issue a proclamation.

Begin by sending a letter explaining what EOM is and requesting that your representative declare an observance of the month. Attach a sample proclamation for your representative to use. Below is an example:

WHEREAS, employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs) have been established in approximately 10,000 companies in the United States, employing 10.3 million working men and women; and

WHEREAS, employee ownership is becoming a practice that is instrumental in helping Americans share in our nation’s growth and prosperity by enabling our citizens to accumulate significant amounts of capital stock in the business at which they are employed; and

WHEREAS, employee ownership has become a powerful incentive for Americans to make the best of their talents and energies in their places of work, thus strengthening the competitive potential of our state’s businesses; and

WHEREAS, employee ownership aids in creating and retaining jobs in our state; and

WHEREAS, the successful record of employee-owned firms in benefiting both companies and employees merits recognition.

THEREFORE, I proclaim October as Employee Ownership Month.


Tips for Securing Proclamations

Most states have specific guidelines regarding proclamations and the best place to start is to call your Governor’s office and ask to speak with the person who handles proclamations. Ask about the preferred method for receiving requests, either by mail, fax, or email. Some states may have an online form that can be filled out and submitted through the state website. Always follow-up with a call to make sure the person responsible for processing requests received your information. You may want to inquire at that time about how long it will take for the request to be approved.

Not only is a proclamation a great way to show your state’s support for employee ownership and ESOPs in America, but is also a wonderful way to draw attention to your company and employee ownership in your state through the media. A few examples are below.

If you would like a text version of the proclamation language, please send a note to Media AT

Filed under: Employee Ownership Message,

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