The ESOP Association Blog

Covering ESOPs and employee ownership

The ESOP Association’s Outside Board Registry

As a member service, The ESOP Association maintains an Outside Board Registry. This registry is a list of potential board members knowledgeable about and familiar with ESOPs and employee ownership.

Members of The ESOP Association can be listed free of charge in the registry. To be listed, participants must be employed at or retired from a current ESOP Association member company, or be a current member of the Association in any member category. There is no charge for the registry if requested by a member of the Association.

If you would like to be included in this registry, contact Sharon Spencer at Sharon AT esopassociation.org.

The registry can be found on The ESOP Association’s website under Network. To access the information, you will need to login. The member login is at the top of the page. The Outside Board Register is a member service provided by The ESOP Association.

Filed under: Member Services, Publication, TEA Members, , , ,

March 2014 ESOP Report Now Available

The March 2014 ESOP Report is now available. To access this month’s issue, you’ll need to sign into the 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.
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Filed under: Member Services, Publication, ,

2014 Winter Advocacy Kits Available

The updated 2014 Advocacy Kit and 2014 Congressional Company Visit Kit are now available on The ESOP Association’s website. Copies of the 2014 Winter Kits can be downloaded from The ESOP Association’s website.

The newly updated Kits contain information on: House – Moving to Curtail Tax Benefits for ESOPs?; Senate Tax Reform Update; Obama Administration Condemns ESOPs and Proposes Repeal of ESOP Tax incentive (Administration is Wrong).

Filed under: Government Affairs, Member Services, Publication, ,

February 2014 ESOP Report Newsletter

The February 2014 issue of the ESOP Report is now available. To access this month’s issue, you’ll need to sign into the 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.

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Filed under: Member Services, Publication, TEA Members, , ,

Why Submit for an AACE?

Today, we’re featuring a guest post by Rod Reinertson, Director of Automation at Van Meter Inc., Cedar Rapids, IA. He authored a recent column in the January 2014 ESOP Report, the newsletter of The ESOP Association, about the AACE Awards and why submitting an entry is an important step in creating your ownership culture.

This article originally appeared in the January 2014 issue of the ESOP Report, the newsletter of The ESOP Association. 

Don’t forget, the deadline for the 2014 AACE Awards is February 14th

Each year, The ESOP Association presents their Annual Awards for Communications Excellence (AACE) at the Annual Award’s Ceremony that kicks off the Association’s Annual Conference in Washington, DC. The winner of the Annual Employee Ownership Month Poster Contest is also unveiled at this great event.

We started our ESOP Communication Committee in 2003. From a committee perspective, we wanted to make sure we were educating and communicating the ESOP and employee ownership in everything we did. One of the first things we did to engage all the employee owners was to hold our own Employee Ownership Month Poster Contest and this is something that we have continued annually. We then select our company winner and submit it to The ESOP Association’s Poster Contest. Four years of winning posters are displayed at all 13 of our company’s locations. Several of us attended our first Annual Award’s Ceremony that next year and it was an eye opener for us. Even though we didn’t win the national poster contest that year, all the ideas we received by looking at all of the creativity put into the posters and AACE entries was invaluable. We talked with the winners and networked with the other entrants to brainstorm employee ownership communication ideas to bring back to our ESOP Communication Committee. At this point, we were too young in our journey to even think about submitting for an AACE, however, it was at that same time one of the AACE judges asked me, “Why didn’t you submit for an AACE in the category for ESOP Advertising/Ownership Marketing for the division of websites? Your company clearly presents employee ownership and integrates it well in your company website.” So that very next year, I made our first AACE submission only in this category and we won! All kudos to our marketing department!

Now what? It’s nice to win and celebrate an award but I had to remind myself that our main purpose of our ESOP Communication Committee was to educate and communicate the ESOP and employee ownership. We wanted to develop an employee ownership culture that would help us be a more successful company. Then a light bulb went off for me. The AACE has many categories. There are so many ways to communicate the ESOP and employee ownership to our employee owners. Do we have gaps in communications? I thought this may be a good way to evaluate our overall and total communications methods. So let’s look at the categories:

Category 1, Total Communications – In my mind, this is the top award for recognizing the company with the complete communications package to both its employee owners and the public. This would be inclusive of all the following categories we will discuss. All the categories have two divisions, Division A for 250 or fewer employees and Division B for companies with more than 250 employees (Except for category 5 which the divisions are defined differently which we will discuss later). Also, please note, categories 1, 2, and 4 have new entry procedures this year so please make sure to read the following document for details: http://www.esopassociation.org/docs/default-source/awards/2014-aace-awards-brochure.pdf

Category 2, Presentation Videos – This award is for the best use of video to promote the ESOP concept inside or outside your company. Beginning this year there is a five minute time limit requirement and entries must be uploaded to YouTube.

Category 3, Printed Materials – This award recognizes excellence in the use of original, printed informational materials which are used to promote the company’s ESOP to employee owners, customers and the community.

Category 4, Intranets – This award recognizes excellence in using the company intranet to communicate and educate about the ESOP and employee ownership.

Category 5, ESOP Advertising/Ownership Marketing – Division A: General – This award recognizes excellence in print advertising in newspapers and magazines, on company vehicles, banners, marketing brochures, etc. that are used to promote the company (and must reference the ESOP) to the outside world. Division B: Websites – This award recognizes excellence in the creative integration of the ESOP concept and ownership into your companies’ website.

Category 6, Special Events & Promotions – One Outstanding Event – This award recognizes excellence in the organization and creativity involved in one significant ownership event, such as a special celebration, ESOP community service day, parade float, etc.

Category 7, Special Events & Promotions – Series of Events – This award recognizes excellence in the organization and creativity involved in a series of ownership events. Employee Ownership Month events are often entered in this category.

So where are your gaps? We have now won three AACEs, one being a category 1, and we are still continually reevaluating all the different communication methods to educate our employee owners on ownership and our ESOP. So use this entire process to organize, review, and evaluate your methods. Your entry will give your company a chance to network with other companies, get new ideas, and improve your own program.

One of the other things we did on our ESOP communications committee was to elect a historian. Basically, the historian would organize everything you did throughout the year, create an archive that keeps you from scrambling at the end of the year getting your submission in, and from an AACE judge’s perspective, this is very important. Judges spend two full days looking through all the submissions so you want your entry organized and clearly labeled so they totally understand what your message is. A brief commentary page is recommended to be submitted with each category as a way to clearly and directly communicate your message to the judges.

Finally, the deadline this year for AACE submission is February 14th (Valentine’s Day) which is a few weeks sooner than it has been in past years. Good luck! See you at the Awards Ceremony on May 7th.

Rod Reinertson is the Director of Automation at Van Meter Inc. (VMI), Cedar Rapids, IA. Rod joined VMI in 1992 and is a charter member of their ESOP Committee that was formed in the summer of 2003. Rod has served as an AACE Awards judge. He currently serves as President of The ESOP Association’s Iowa/Nebraska Chapter and has been a member of The ESOP Association’s Ownership Culture Committee since 2006 and was recently selected as Chair. Rod has written many articles and speaks at conferences on different ESOP topics relating to communications and ownership culture. He was named the “Outstanding Chapter Officer” by The ESOP Association at their national conference in Washington, DC last May. Van Meter has won several of The ESOP Association’s Annual Award for Communications Excellence and won the AACE for Total Communications in 2012. Van Meter was presented the “Company of the Year” award by The ESOP Association’s Iowa/Nebraska Chapter in both 2008 and 2010 and was selected as the national “Company of the Year” amongst the other Chapter winners by the Association at the national conference in 2011.

 

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

The January 2014 ESOP Report is Available

The January 2014 issue of the ESOP Report is now available. To access this month’s issue, you’ll need to sign into the 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.

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Filed under: Publication, , ,

ESOP Association Publications — What to Look for in 2014

The ESOP Association is dedicated to employee ownership and our publications are authored by top experts on employee ownership. The information included in these materials is essential to the successful management of an employee-owned company.

The Association offers technical publications on topics such as: accounting standards, ESOP valuations, ESOP administration practices,  a fiduciary handbook, and a guide to financing ESOP transactions.

Additionally,  communications products such as brochures on the ESOP concept and creating an ownership culture are useful for explaining the ESOP to new employee owners.

Issue Briefs which cover specific topics of interest for both corporate and professional members in the ESOP community can be downloaded free from the website by members.

For additional information on Association products and publications, visit the ESOP store or call 202-293-2971 to purchase any of The ESOP Association’s publications.

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Filed under: Publication,

The December 2013 ESOP Report is available

The December 2013 issue of the ESOP Report is now available. To access this month’s issue, you’ll need to sign into the 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.

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Filed under: Publication, ,

November Wrap-Up

Now that we’re moving into the last month of 2013, we thought we’d share a few links from November and wish everyone a safe and Happy Thanksgiving holiday.

2013 Las Vegas Conference & Trade Show links:

Visit the Employee Ownership Foundation

LinkedIn Link Up

Stop by the Membership Services Booth and say hello!

Employee Ownership Foundation Lunch

ESOP Association Lunch

2014 AACE Awards Program Changes

ESOP Association News: Justice Department Asks Supreme Court to Reverse Circuit Courts’ Pro-ESOP Position

The November 2013 ESOP Report is Available

Foundation News: Passionate Speech by Preeminent Scholar of Employee Ownership Ignites Crowd at 2013 Las Vegas Conference

2014 AACE Awards Brochure Available

2014 Educational Programs Announced

Tired of Reading It; Tired of Hearing It

Tax Reform & ESOPs — Saving ESOPs, Saving Our ESOPs, Saving YOUR ESOP

Filed under: AACE - Annual Awards for Communications Excellence, Conference Information, Employee Ownership Foundation, Employee Ownership Message, Government Affairs, Member Services, Publication, , ,

Tired of Reading It; Tired of Hearing It

This article originally ran as the Washington Report column in the November 2013 issue of the ESOP Report, the newsletter of The ESOP Association. The ESOP Report newsletter is available to Association members on the website.

Maybe the reader is tired of reading it — or as in the case of Las Vegas, or one of the many Chapter conferences since August — tired of hearing it. But, the tax reform process has begun, and it is real. There are those who think all the talk about tax reform and the potential impact on ESOPs is malarkey because this Congress, and this Administration, cannot agree on the basics, such as a farm bill, or a highway bill. Who would ever dream a tax reform bill would go to President Obama? Sort of a “what me worry” attitude.

To repeat the basics — since early September, the House tax committee’s Republican members have been meeting in closed door sessions regularly to decide on how to raise approximately $10 trillion in new taxes over 10 years in order to lower the top rate for businesses and individuals to 25%, and to lower the top rate for all middle and lower income persons to 10%. In short, to lower tax rates drastically, but to not increase the Federal deficit, means “new” revenue has to be collected by eliminating, or drastically reducing, nearly all special tax laws, such as those benefiting ESOP creation and operation. [Other provisions that might have to go, or be reduced, are home mortgage deductions, charitable giving deductions, local government tax exempt bonds, and capital gains differential, for example. In other words, everything from super big, to middle sized, down to small sized tax benefits. ESOPs would be in the middle sized small benefit at an estimated $2 billion a year.]

As of this writing, the committee, the House Committee on Ways and Means, has not released its final recommendations, but a release is anticipated.

Cynics who say that a tax reform bill is not something to worry about are correct for two reasons — 1.) what the Ways and Means Committee does with legislation will probably not attract Democratic votes, and 2.) it will also not result in President Obama, nor the Senate, agreeing on the Ways and Means Committee bill.

As has been said over and over and over, however, — and how about saying it again over and over and over — Congress will eventually pass a tax reform bill. Whoever is President will sign such a bill, be it President Obama, or his successor. And that bill will, if past is prologue, look very much like the first one passed out of the House Ways and Means Committee. This fact is why what is happening now is important to all ESOP advocates.

The ESOP community must fully engage in telling the wonderful success story of how the vast majority of ESOP companies are providing jobs, good sustainable jobs; but most importantly, displaying the unique “vibe” present in the overwhelming majority of ESOP companies.

Sure, if ESOPs get hurt in the provisions of a House Ways and Means Committee bill, there will still be a chance to protect ESOPs in the Senate process. [Consider the trivia question put to Las Vegas Conference attendees recently --- what do the last four Presidents have in common? Answer: They all lost their first race to be a member of Congress. Did they give up their political careers as a result? Obviously not, as all became President.]

But why play with fire? The tax reform process is underway, big time, in the House Ways and Means Committee. Now is the time to convey the view that Congress should preserve and promote the best jobs program in America — ESOPs.

Filed under: Employee Ownership Message, Government Affairs, Publication, , ,

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