The ESOP Association Blog

Covering ESOPs and employee ownership

Upcoming Congressional Elections: Important

The following article originally ran as the Washington Report column in the September 2014 issue of the ESOP Report, the newsletter of The ESOP Association.

There is no doubt, no question, that The ESOP Association, from day one of its existence, is all about ESOPs. And with regard to the Association’s focus on its advocacy mission, or its ‘lobbying’ mission if you like, it is all about ESOP laws and regulations.

No matter what you, or anyone may think of the women and men who are elected by voters to serve in the Congress, the bottom line is this — what these people do, or don’t do about ESOP laws and regulations can aid, can improve, or can be the demise of your ESOP, your company’s ESOP, or your clients’ ESOPs.

So while the ESOP community will be the only ones in America who will pay very, very close attention to what is done to impact your ESOP, or not, by the Congress in passing new laws, repealing old laws, and overseeing the implementation of the laws by the regulatory agencies, it is important to be aware of the ‘big’ picture as defined by who will be re-elected in the upcoming 2014 Congressional elections.

As said time and time again by the Association and its leadership, the Association does not presume to tell ESOP advocates and participants in ESOPs how to vote. How a person votes is the prerogative of the individual.

At the same time, the Association has a fiduciary obligation to inform its members who in Congress is ‘for’ ESOPs, and who is openly showing through their actions that s/he is for ESOPs. The Association does hope that each ESOP advocate and participant will weigh how he or she decides to vote based on whether the person seeking re-election has become an advocate for ESOPs by her or his public actions while serving in Congress.

[Good news, as of this day, there is no evidence that any member of Congress is ‘against’ ESOPs and positive ESOP law. This was not always the case as recently as 2010, and in the late 70s until the late 80s, there were probably 10 or so members of Congress in that era that felt current ESOP law was a waste of taxpayer money, or the laws governing ESOPs did not result in ‘real’ employee ownership, and thus needed to be drastically altered. If a member of the current Congress feels this way, s/he has not openly said so, or proposed legislation to do so.]

There are many members of Congress seeking re-election, and in all fairness, are not to be condemned just because they are not on the ESOP Advocates list posted at; it is just that we do not have any public evidence that they have any position with regard to ESOPs because they have not done anything publicly to indicate favoring current ESOP law, or expanding current ESOP law, or opposing an agency’s position that would be detrimental to ESOP creation and operation. Please note, to be an ESOP advocate, the member of Congress must have taken a pro-ESOP position that is public — such as being a co-sponsor of a pro-ESOP legislative proposal, offering a pro-ESOP amendment in a Committee, and making a statement that is part of the permanent Congressional Record that is pro-ESOP. It takes more than being nice to ESOP advocates when they visit a Congressional office.

If any member of The ESOP Association wants details about an ESOP Congressional Champion who is seeking re-election, do not hesitate to contact Association President Michael Keeling, michael AT esopassociation DOT org

For example, he would share what Senator seeking re-election he thinks would single handedly try to stop negative ESOP tax law proposals by filibustering on the Senate floor. He would share what member of the House is serving on the key committees that handle ESOP legislation and ESOP oversight duties. He would help you weigh what you might do, and what you might share with your fellow ESOP participants, in terms of the question, “Does this member of Congress deserve my/our vote because s/he can protect and enhance our ESOP?”

Sure the elections coming in November are ‘big picture’ stuff that the left-wing and right-wing TV cable shows like to bloviate about ad nauseam; but understanding the part of the big picture important to the ESOP community is as important to each ESOP advocate and her/his family.

Filed under: Government Affairs, , ,

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,

Employee Ownership Month 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 Employee Ownership Month. You can ask your mayor, state representative, or governor to issue a proclamation.

Following are 2014 Employee Ownership Month Proclamations that members have shared with the Association. Additional proclamations will be added to The ESOP Association website in the following weeks.

Filed under: Employee Ownership Month (EOM),

2014 Las Vegas Conference & Trade Show Update

esop-slide-template - 2014 Vegas Conference

The 2014 Las Vegas Conference & Trade Show is shaping up to be an amazing learning and networking experience. Below are some updated links to Conference information. We hope to see you in Las Vegas this November!

A few Trade Show booths are still available.

Hotel rooms are going fast, so make your hotel reservations soon.

If you have not registered for the program:

Register Online

Print Registration Form

If you have questions or need more information, please call The ESOP Association at 202-293-2971 and ask for Maya Van Buren or Rosemary Clements.

Filed under: Conference Information,

Ideas to jump start Employee Ownership Month

EPEOM2014emailsmallEmployee Ownership Month presents an excellent opportunity to tell your company’s ESOP story to anyone who will listen. Employee owners, elected officials, and members of the media are all potential audiences.

Remember, one size does not fit all. What may work for one company may not be the best idea for your company. To help get you started, we’ve included a list below to help brainstorm ideas for this year’s Employee Ownership Month celebrations.

  • Parties
  • Company picnics
  • Brown-bag lunches
  • Ribbon cutting ceremonies
  • Mock game shows
  • Theme days
  • Roundtable discussions with your local Chamber of Commerce or other local membership organizations such as the Rotary Club
  • Award ceremonies
  • Treating employees to a special event
  • Auctions/silent auctions
  • Q & A session with the CEO, plan trustee, or ESOP administrator
  • Team building activities
  • Create a display of Employee Ownership Month posters for your facility
  • Hold an in-house Employee Ownership Month poster contest
  • Charity/donation program to build employee ownership spirit such as a food drive
  • Open house event(s) featuring ESOP/employee ownership theme
  • Vesting ceremonies
  • Special guest speakers such as a member of Congress
  • Secure a proclamation from your local elected officials

Don’t forget to share your stories with the Association, We just might feature your company’s event here on the blog!

Filed under: Employee Ownership Message,

Employee Ownership Month — the Story of ESOPs

The ESOP Association sent out the following release this morning announcing the start of Employee Ownership Month 2014.

For Immediate Release: October 1, 2014

Employee Ownership Month — the Story of ESOPs

Month-long Celebration Begins October 1st

 October 1, 2014 (Washington, DC) – The ESOP Association and its members will celebrate Employee Ownership Month, a tribute to the tremendous spirit of employee ownership, throughout the month of October.

Employee Ownership Month is an opportunity for ESOP (employee stock ownership plan) companies across the nation to educate employee owners, the public, and government officials about the undeniable benefits of employee ownership for employees, their companies, the communities they are a part of, and the nation. For more information about Employee Ownership Month, please visit:

“I’m pleased to announce the start of Employee Ownership Month 2014 and am looking forward to a month of celebrations with our members,” said ESOP Association President, J. Michael Keeling. “For over 20 years, our members, and the ESOP community, have been working to promote employee ownership and its benefits every day. During this month, we will celebrate contributions to making ownership ‘real’ for employee owners and ESOP companies across the nation.”

To view additional comments by Mr. Keeling on Employee Ownership Month, click below.


Employee ownership facts:

  • There are approximately 10,000 ESOPs in place in the U.S., covering 10.3 million employees (approximately 10% of the private sector workforce).
  • The 23rd Annual Economic Performance Survey conducted in 2014 by the Employee Ownership Foundation found:
  • 93% of survey respondents reported that creating employee ownership through an ESOP was ‘a good business decision that has helped the company.’
  • 70% indicated revenue increased
  • 64% of companies indicated they have created an ESOP education program or ESOP advisory committee since establishing the ESOP.
  • 76% of respondents indicated the ESOP positively affected the overall productivity of the employees.


Filed under: Employee Ownership Month (EOM)

September 2014 ESOP Company News

We thought we’d share a few member highlights from September.

Wisconsin Chapter Members Visit Congressman Paul Ryan

During The ESOP Association’s 2014 Annual Conference in Washington, DC, members of the Wisconsin Chapter visited Capitol Hill to meet with members of Congress and their staff. This was the Chapter’s sixth annual organized effort as a Chapter, and members made a total of six visits. At right is a photo of Wisconsin Chapter members with Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI).

 WI Chapter - 2014 Cong Ryan Visit

Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, Inc.’s Lewiston Location Hosts Visit with Senator Mike Crapo

The employee owners of Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, Inc. (SEL) shared their perspectives on employee ownership with Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID), a member of the Senate Finance Committee, when he visited the company’s manufacturing facility in Lewiston, Idaho in August 2014. He toured the manufacturing floor, learned about SEL and the products and services it provides for power systems around the world, and spoke with some of the 230 employee owners about the company’s ESOP. Senior Operations Manager Dave Strerath praised the retirement benefits afforded by the ESOP. Senator Crapo indicated his strong support for ESOPs and suggested that more businesses should follow the model. SEL Lewiston recently doubled the size of the manufacturing facility to 245,000 square feet. The plant specializes in producing high-quality relays, data cables, voltage regulator controllers, and plastic parts. Thanks to SEL’s Larry Camm for sharing the news.


Restek Corporation Visits with Congressman Glenn Thompson

On August 15, 2014, the employee owners of Restek Corporation in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania held a visit with Congressman Glenn Thompson (D-PA) to discuss the pro-ESOP bill, H.R. 4837. According to Restek employee owner, Mike Shuey, “Our meeting with Congressman Thompson was excellent. He co-sponsored the previous bill and is a co-sponsor of H.R. 2041 so he gave us his word he’ll get on this when he gets back to DC. Congressman Thompson is a true ESOP advocate and we greatly appreciate his support!” Thanks to Mike Shuey for sharing the news.

Restek Thompson Visit - 20140815_121214_resized

Filed under: Member Services, TEA Members

NEW EDITION: ESOP Administration Handbook

The ESOP Association’s Advisory Committee on Administration has released an updated edition of the ESOP Administration Handbook. Order your 2014 Edition today; includes book and flash drive.

Designed as an overview and checklist of the entire administration process, this handbook is invaluable to:

  • In-House Administrators
  • Administrative Committee Members
  • Officers & Management Personnel Responsible for Administration of their Company’s ESOP
  • Service Providers in the ESOP Administration Area

Separate chapters are devoted to:

  • Disclosure Requirements
  • Participation & Coverage
  • Contributions & Dividends
  • ERISA Reporting
  • Diversification Requirements
  • Distributions
  • 401(k) Arrangements & ESOPs
  • ESOPs Sponsored by S Corporations

Members $150 + s&h • Non-Members $400 + s&h

Order: Online, click on “ESOP Store”

Phone toll free 1 (866) 366-3832 • Email

AdminHdbk COVER Artwork 2014

Filed under: Publication,

AACE Awards — A few Interesting Facts about the Program

esopaacedarkerIn doing some historical research into the AACE Awards program this summer, ESOP Association staff came across some interesting facts. First, a bit of background on the AACE program. The AACE Awards are sponsored each year by the Association to recognize the outstanding communications and educational programs of its members. The AACE Awards are presented each year at the Association’s Annual Conference in Washington, DC to companies who have excelled in communicating the ESOP and its meaning to employee owners. AACE Award winners are chosen by a panel of five judges made up of both management and non-management employee owners, each of whom has demonstrated active experience and interest in the field of ESOPs and employee ownership communications.

Additional information about the AACE Awards program, including the program brochure (the 2015 AACE Awards brochure will be available in the coming months), tips on winning, and a list of the 2014 winners, can be found here.  AACE Awards videos can be found on the Association’s YouTube Channel as well.  If you have questions concerning the AACE program, please contact Pat Barnes at (304) 876-3624 or by email at patbarnesart AT

Starting with 1992, as far back as staff were able to trace records, 214 ESOP companies have entered the AACE program. Breaking the numbers down by Chapter, the New England Chapter leads the way with 27 entries. The full breakdown: New England (27); Mid-Atlantic (22); California/Western States (21); Ohio/Kentucky (20); Minnesota/Dakotas (15); Southwest (14); New South (12); Pennsylvania/Delaware (11); Carolinas (10); Iowa/Nebraska (9); Heart of America (8); Illinois (8); New York/New Jersey (8); Wisconsin (6); Northwest (5); Indiana (4); Michigan (4); Hawaii (1).

According to information available in the Association’s database:

  • The majority of companies entering AACE have less than 250 employees
  • Average ESOP % of companies entering AACE is 71.77%
  • 72 of the 214 companies that have entered AACE are 100%
  • Average year the ESOP was established for companies entering AACE is 1994
  • Average year the company was established for companies entering AACE is 1962

Totaling up the companies with the most entries and wins:

  • The company that has entered the most number of times is ComSonics, Inc. (Harrisonburg, VA) with 15 entries since 1992. They have won nine AACE awards and nine runner up awards.
  • Company with the most wins overall is Burns & McDonnell (Kansas City, MO) with 10. As a side note, Burns & McDonnell has entered 10 times and won an AACE Awards every time they have entered; including 3 runner up awards.

Does your company have an ESOP education committee? Take a look around and see what your company has to offer. You might just be the next AACE Award winner. The ESOP Association works to promote the best and brightest throughout the ESOP community. Help us show off your company’s hard work.

Filed under: AACE - Annual Awards for Communications Excellence

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