The ESOP Association Blog

Covering ESOPs and employee ownership

2015 Edmunson Scholarships Open for Applications

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.

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,

ESOP Company News

ESOP Company News from ESOP Association Members

Kocolene Development Corporation Hosts Visit with Congressman Todd Young (R-MN)

Kocolene Development Corporation hosted a visit from Congressman Todd Young at their headquarters in Seymour, Indiana to thank him for his support of ESOPs. Kocolene established its ESOP on December 31, 2009 and became 100% on February 1, 2014.

During his visit, Congressman Young toured both the Kocolene Marketing, LLC office building and Ranger Enterprises, LLC facilities so he could see first-hand the operations of Kocolene Development Corporation.

“Congressman Young’s visit provided our management team the opportunity to discuss with him several business issues important to our company and our industry. We greatly appreciated his willingness to meet with us over the busy holiday season,” stated Gary Myers. Congressman Young is pictured in both the lobby (below) and the Board Room (below) of the Kocolene office alongside Gary F. Myers, Chairman of the Board and Andrea S. Myers, President.

Kocolene began in August of 1938 when Carrie M. Myers purchased the entire capital stock of a very young oil company. Two services stations, one in Seymour and the other in Columbus, Indiana and an old used tank truck were the setting for success. Since its meager beginning, Kocolene has grown to be one of the most respected oil companies in the Midwest. Kocolene today is headquartered in Seymour, Indiana and owns and operates a chain of convenience stores with fuel in Indiana and Kentucky under the name of Fast Max; operates a chain of discount tobacco stores in Indiana under the brand of Smokers Host; a warehousing, logistics and recycling company operating under the name of Ranger Enterprises, LLC; and an environmental services firm operated as Komack Environmental, LLC.

CO News - Todd Young GFM ASM

Co News - Board Room Experience

Malco Products Meets with Congressman Tom Emmer (R-MN)

Congressman Tom Emmer, the Republican Congressman from the 6th District of Minnesota, recently visited Malco Products, Inc. in Annandale, Minnesota. During the plant tour, Congressman Emmer expressed his support for the ESOP business model and some Malco associates shared their thoughts with him about Malco’s ESOP. Mardon Quandt, Malco’s President, updated Congressman Emmer on current ESOP related legislation and tax reform discussions. Congressman Emmer also expressed his support for modifying the road design at an intersection in front of the Malco facility to improve safety.

In photo below, from left to right: Congressman Tom Emmer, Drew Emmer (Emmer support staff), Jeannette Rieger-Borer (CFO of Malco Products, Inc.), Mardon Quandt (President of Malco Products, Inc.).

Malco Products

Hawaii Chapter Members Hear from Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI)

At the 2014 Hawaii Chapter’s Annual Conference (October 9, 2014), Chapter members were privileged to have Senator Mazie Hirono as the lunch speaker. below are a few photos from the event.

Hawaii Chapter - IMG_7028

Hawaii Chapter - IMG_7029

Filed under: Chapter News, TEA Members, , , ,

Updated Publication –> Your ESOP: It’s For All of Us

Feb 2015 Pubs HighlightUpdated Publication

Your ESOP: It’s For All of Us

This brochure is designed to help companies communicate the ESOP concept to employee owners. It includes non-technical descriptions of how ESOPs work and how employee stock ownership can benefit the company and employees alike. Emphasis is placed on explaining such issues as how stock values can accumulate, the importance of productivity, and the advantages that ESOPs provide. The brochure also includes answers to nine questions commonly asked by ESOP participants.

Also available in Spanish.

Members $1 / Non-members $6

To purchase Your ESOP: It’s For All of Us, visit The ESOP Association’s website, email, or call 1-866-366-3832.

Filed under: Member Services, Publication,

A Thank You to Chapter Leader, Gale Marett

At The ESOP Association’s recent Executive Committee meeting of the State and Regional Chapter Council in Dallas, Texas, Tony Lessmeister of Forsythe Technology, Inc., Chair of the Executive Committee of the State and Regional Chapter Council, presented Gale Marett of Salem Distributing Company, Inc. with a certificate of gratitude for her four years of service to the Executive Committee of the State and Regional Chapter Council.

“We want to take this opportunity to thank Gale for her dedication and service to the Association Chapters,” said ESOP Association President, J. Michael Keeling.

Gale Marrett SRCC thanks 3

Filed under: Chapter News,

Employee Ownership Month Poster Contest Open for Submissions

Since a number of members have inquired, we thought we’d share information on the 2015 Employee Ownership Month Poster Contest. The rules and submission form can be downloaded here.


Entries must be received at the national offices of The ESOP Association no later than February 17, 2015.

The winner of the contest will be announced at the 24th Annual Awards Ceremony on Wednesday, May 6th, 2015, in Washington, DC. More information on the Awards Ceremony and the Annual Conference is here.

The judging guidelines are as follows:

  • Good employee owner education of Employee Ownership Month
  • Respect for the contributions of employee owners
  • Integration of the concepts of both employee ownership as well as the celebration of Employee Ownership Month into the fabric of the poster design
  • Encouragement of ownership attitudes in the poster design
  • Clear, simple design
  • Creative use of ideas
  • Good graphic design

Where should entries be sent?

Submit all Poster Contest entries to:

The ESOP Association

1726 M Street, N.W.

Suite 501

Washington, D.C. 20036-4507

Good luck!

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

RELEASE: The ESOP Association Submits Comments to the House Ways and Means Committee on Moving America Forward

The ESOP Association sent out the following release today.

For Immediate Release: February 4, 2015

The ESOP Association Submits Comments to the House Ways and Means Committee on Moving America Forward

February 4, 2015 (Washington, DC) – January 30, 2015, 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. The hearing, ‘Moving America Forward: With a Focus on Economic Growth’ was held on January 13, 2015.

As noted from the statement by ESOP Association President, J. Michael Keeling: “Most relevant to the review of jobs and wealth creation for all who work is that shared ownership through the ESOP model is an excellent jobs policy. Having policies that increase the probability that people with jobs will stay employed is the most important jobs policy Congress can promote. Data indicates that during the Great Recession employee stock owned companies were four times less likely to lay off employees than conventionally-owned companies.”

He concluded, “Keeping and expanding a proven policy, more employee ownership via the ESOP model, can significantly address the questions reviewed with regard to jobs in our nation, and our nation’s economy.”

Read the full statement on The ESOP Association’s website:


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,

Tips for Winning AACE

AACE 2015With the deadline for the 2015 AACE Awards deadline approaching, we thought we’d share a few tips on winning.

Download a copy of the 2015 AACE Awards brochure.

If you have questions concerning the AACE program, please contact Pat Barnes at (304) 876-3624 or by email at patbarnesart AT

Entering AACE – Things to Know First

  • 2015 Deadline – February 17th
  • Any current corporate member may enter.
  • Restrictions: A company may not be a Top Winner more than once each year.
    They can be a Runner Up Winner & a Top Winner, or Runner Up in several categories. They cannot win the same top award two years in a row. No such restrictions apply to Runner Up Winners.
  • You will be judged on ESOP/Ownership communications, not on products.
  • Materials are returned if you request it. (Do not send anything you cannot replace)
  • Entering AACE provides an opportunity to review your current communications program, look over the past, and plan for the future, in an organized way. It is a way of providing an illustrated, written record, over many years.
  • Come to the Annual Conference in May and you will be able to see what others have done, “borrow” (and improve on) good ideas, and meet and interact with other creative people in your field. Start to establish your own communications network, sparked by the knowledge, experience, and creativity of many.

Organizing Your Entry (Please read the entry form carefully!)

The entry format is slightly different for 2015. Enter by category, i.e. Printed Materials, Special Events, ESOP Advertising/Ownership Marketing, etc. (The Total Programs Category will be judged as an accumulation of all the rest). Each category should be represented by a notebook (don’t overfill!) or well-bound packet. It is important that it be well-marked with company name and category, and easy to find. You may have to duplicate materials entered in more than one category. Each category should have a brief commentary page in the front. This is your opportunity to communicate directly with the judges.

A link to Presentation Videos (place them on YouTube, 5 minute limit) and your web site (if you are entering this in the competition) should be sent to PatBarnesArt AT  between February 1 and February 17th, 2015.

It is recommended, but not required, that you add to your entry with a display board, which does not have to pertain to any particular category. (Limit one). Use a standard sized foam core or cardboard backing, such as those used for science exhibits. Label everything with your company name, especially small things. Disks must be labeled with company, title and time. See the entry form for further information such as shipping requirements, weight limits, etc.

How AACE is Judged

There are five judges each year. An effort is made to procure outstanding, knowledgeable people, from different sizes, types and locations of companies, both male and female, and both management and line employee owners. Four judges are new, with the AACE Chair returning for continuity.

The judges only know what you tell them, so be clear in your commentary. Anecdotes are welcome! Organization, presentation, free items, etc. count, but above all else is content. The big question is, how well and how often are you communicating ownership?

Tips on Winning an AACE

  1. Notice everything you do/have with the words “ESOP” or “Ownership.” Start a file early on, and keep it current.
  2. If you haven’t already done so, start putting “employee owned” on everything; business cards, stationery, invoices, signs, trucks, advertisements, job applications, web sites, flags, product packaging, etc.
  3. Keep a camera on site. Designate a photography buff to take lots of pictures, and put them in the newsletter, on the web, on bulletin boards, and in the AACE entry.
  4. Consider making company events “ESOP” events, such as a picnic or a brown bag lunch, a parade float, or Employee Owners of XYZ Company working for Habitat for Humanity, or the Animal Shelter.
  5. How much and how often the ESOP is mentioned counts, such as in a newsletter, in the educational structure, the brochures, the web site. Does ownership permeate the company culture? Tell the judges.
  6. In printed materials, clear, easy to read information and good graphic design counts (not necessarily expense). Ownership communication content is paramount.
  7. Education about ESOP counts. The more informative, fun and creative the better.
  8. Tap into your funny, creative people. Fun and good humor are very powerful. Best of all, upper management with a sense of humor is invaluable, a huge asset.
  9. Consideration for the employee owner counts. Respectful feedback for suggestions is important. Is there a forum for concerns? Write it up as an asset.
  10. Employee owner involvement in the ownership aspect of the company, as well as in actually preparing the AACE entry counts.
  11. Having a theme can make it easier to plan a series of events, or a whole campaign. A fun theme often sparks creativity, and spins off ideas in new directions. It also makes things easier to remember.

Not an AACE Tip, But Important

  • Setting up lines of communication and building credibility in the good times makes it far easier to communicate in the bad times. Honesty is important.
  • Not communicating is still saying something.
  • According to research, ESOP companies who communicate ownership well are among the most productive companies.

A Few More Things to Remember

Have someone who always has access to a camera at all events. However, a flood of pictures really is not necessary; usually some good pictures, with a clear explanation of the event and how it tied into ESOP/Ownership understanding is better.

Judges love a theme — i.e. a “team theme,” a cruise theme, a game theme, a farm theme, etc. That sometimes makes it easier to plan events as well. The more fun you can put into it the better, while still educating (i.e. ESOP “Jeopardy” with a really nice prize). Mixing “old” and “new” ESOPpers to do a skit is a possibility. Someone did a silly (but wonderful) skit on Dorothy & the Land of Oz (ESOP) one year, including upper management.

Speaking of that, if you have management behind the communications effort, you have a “leg up” on the ladder. Their sincere belief in the ESOP goes a long way, and plays well in a video, as long as the employee owners are featured as well. (Avoid “talking heads” in a video as much as possible). If you can “mix up” the new/old employee owners and not just introduce the management to the new ones, it would probably mean more.

A lot of events can be labeled “ESOP” events, such as picnics (games with ESOP items for prizes?), Eggs ‘n ESOP, a team of employee owners helping Habitat for Humanity, an “ESOP Run” for charity, etc. High visibility of the ESOP logo, posters, cups, etc. is a good reminder. Don’t forget stationery, business cards, brochures, ESOP on the web and advertisements. And food!

Sometimes something simple can have great impact. In one company, only the management had their own ceramic cups for coffee. Everyone else had generic Styrofoam cups. When they introduced the ESOP, everyone got a ceramic cup, appropriately labeled. This was very symbolic, and was very successful. Another new ESOP company this past year had a meeting at which little black boxes tied with gold cord were given to the employee owners as they arrived, but they were told not to open them. At the end of the presentation, they opened the boxes to find a little mirror engraved with “Owner.” It was simple but to the point.

If you have a mentoring program, you might feature the program and how it works. A lot depends on the culture of your company and the proximity of other possible locations.

Filed under: AACE - Annual Awards for Communications Excellence,

RELEASE: Once More, Administration Takes Aim at Employee Ownership

The ESOP Association sent out the following release today regarding President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2016 budget.

For Immediate Release: February 2, 2015

Once More, Administration Takes Aim at Employee Ownership

February 2, 2015 (Washington, DC) – Today, The ESOP Association expressed disappointment once more over a provision in President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2016 budget that pertains to employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs). Included in the budget document is a provision to ‘eliminate deduction for dividends on stock of publicly-traded corporations held in ESOPs’ paid to ESOP participants.

“The Administration’s proposal is puzzling to the ESOP community. On one hand, the Administration goes out of its way to tout the work it’s doing to benefit average income employees, yet, the one policy on the books that encourages employers to provide additional income to employees is slated to be cut,” said ESOP Association President, J. Michael Keeling. “The roots of the employee ownership movement position it squarely as a second income plan. It’s been retained by Congress since 1984 to address income inequality by encouraging employee owners to have more income from ownership. The Administration needs to step up and encourage broad-based, inclusive capitalism and increase employee ownership to ensure sustainable employment for U.S. workers, and more income for average pay employee owners, not decrease support.”


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,

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,

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, , ,

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