The ESOP Association Blog

Covering ESOPs and employee ownership

2014 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.

2014 Employee Owner Retreat

August 14 – 16, 2014

Doubletree Suites

2111 Butterfield Rd

Downers Grove, IL 60515

Who Should Attend?

While any employee owner is welcome, the program is designed primarily to give hourly and salaried non-managerial employees an opportunity to learn with and from their peers. Typically, attendees come from outstanding ESOP companies, both service and manufacturing, where developing a culture of ownership is considered an important aspect of corporate success.

“I have attended four Employee Owner Retreats as an observer and can personally attest that the program is unique and inspiring,” said Employee Ownership Foundation President, J. Michael Keeling. “It is an incredible educational experience that energizes attendees and maximizes the company’s performance.”

Program Information

Registration Information

Agenda

Questions? Contact: Maya Van Buren 202-293-2971, meetings@esopassociation.org or Chris Cooper at the Ohio Employee Ownership Center 330-672-0338, ccooper1@kent.edu.

Filed under: Conference Information,

ESOP News Highlights

We’d thought we’d share an article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune that highlighted two ESOP Association members: Christensen Group Insurance and Windings Inc.

St. Anthony: Employee ownership can be a winning formula

Also, Dr. Joseph Blasi’s op-ed in the Los Angeles Times is also worth a read.

If Democrats really want to address inequality, they need new ideas

Enjoy this Wednesday reading.

Got an interesting article to share, drop us an email, media AT esopassociation.org.

Filed under: Employee Ownership Message, , ,

Iowa Economic Development Authority’s ESOP Initiative Program

The Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) has a new ESOP initiative program. According to the IEDA website:

“In addition to the general economic benefits, the IEDA believes that ESOPs are a promising tool for retaining businesses in Iowa communities. Across the state, there are businesses that have been operated in local communities for many years by owners committed to the welfare of the community. But when those owners wish to retire or to start a new business, they often need to sell the business. It can be a great thing for the community if the business is sold to the employees, through an ESOP, rather than to an out-of-state buyer that may shift jobs and profits out of the community. For these reasons, the State of Iowa recently passed two pieces of ESOP-related legislation.”

The ESOP Association’s Iowa/Nebraska Chapter recently hosted an ESOP Professional Roundtable where this initiative was a topic of discussion. Additional information can be found on the IEDA website including information about the ESOP formation assistance program which will help Iowa companies interested in ESOPs to defray the costs of the feasibility study.

“This is very positive evidence of a cost effective state program to promote ESOPs,” said ESOP Association President, J. Michael Keeling. “It’s very encouraging to see states considering programs to facilitate ESOP creation; clearly more state officers are seeing the benefits that employee-owned companies bring to the local economy. Iowa is certainly a leader on the local ESOP front — kudos to our Iowa Chapter leaders.”

Filed under: Chapter News, Economic Performance, Employee Ownership Message, , , ,

The July ESOP Report is Available

The July 2014 ESOP Report is now available for members. To access this month’s issue, you’ll need to sign into The ESOP Association’s 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.

July2014ESOPReportCOVERsmall

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

ESOP Article Round-Up

We thought we’d share a few articles on ESOPs and employee ownership that ran over the past week.

We recently highlighted this article by Professor Joseph Blasi which appeared on Salon on July 4, 2014: The Founding Fathers backed Thomas Piketty – and feared a powerful 1 percent.

On July 10th, Professor Blasi was a guest on The Hays Advantage Podcast, Kathleen Hays with co-host Vonnie Quinn covers business stories with top-tier guests. The podcast: Blasi Has Inequality Solution in ‘The Citizen’s Share’ (Audio). You can listen here. You will need to scroll down the page for the podcast link.

On July 12, 2014, Professor Blasi was featured on The Daily Beast: A Founding Father Profit Sharing Fix for Inequality.

On July 10, 2014, The Huffington Post Small Business section featured an article on ESOPs: Should You Think About an ESOP?

The Brookings Institute featured an article by Richard V. Reeves on July 8, 2014: Employee Ownership: The Case for Metro Action.

Filed under: Employee Ownership Message, ,

The Founding Fathers Feared a Powerful One Percent

Dr. Joseph Blasi, a preeminent researcher of employee ownership, published an interesting article on the founding fathers and how they feared a powerful one percent. We thought we’d share a link to the article with our readers today.

The Founding Fathers backed Thomas Piketty – and feared a powerful 1 percent

This 4th of July, remember the truth about founding fathers, and their prescient warnings about income inequality

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

Congressional Visits

While in DC for the Annual Conference, May 8 & 9, many Association members made visits to their Congressional offices to discuss the value of employee ownership. Some even met up with members of Congress at the airport. Lesson: never pass up the chance to talk ESOP! We’ll be sharing photos below. If you have photos of a Congressional visit, please send it to media AT esopassociation.org. We’ll try to include the information in an upcoming issue of the ESOP Report and on the Association’s Blog.

Thanks to our members for their work to promote ESOPs and employee ownership in America.

Members of the California/Western States Chapter visiting Capitol Hill during the Annual Conference.

Members of the California/Western States Chapter visiting Capitol Hill during the Annual Conference.

Members of the California/Western States Chapter visiting Capitol Hill during the Annual Conference.

Members of the California/Western States Chapter visiting Capitol Hill during the Annual Conference.

New South Chapter members visited the offices of Alabama Senators Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Richard Shelby (R-AL) during the Annual Conference in Washington, DC. New South Chapter Government Relations Chair, Karan Christopher of McCord Communications, scheduled the appointments with the Senators’ staff members and other Chapter members joined her to share their ESOP story. The visits were successful and opened up the door for future Congressional visits to ESOP companies in the state of Alabama.   Left to right: Ed Ilano (Swerdlin & Company), Jodi Lamb (Big G Express), Andy Dickerson (McCord Communications), Karan Christopher (McCord Communications), Teresa Crosslin (Big G Express).

New South Chapter members visited the offices of Alabama Senators Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Richard Shelby (R-AL) during the Annual Conference in Washington, DC. New South Chapter Government Relations Chair, Karan Christopher of McCord Communications, scheduled the appointments with the Senators’ staff members and other Chapter members joined her to share their ESOP story. The visits were successful and opened up the door for future Congressional visits to ESOP companies in the state of Alabama.
Left to right: Ed Ilano (Swerdlin & Company), Jodi Lamb (Big G Express), Andy Dickerson (McCord Communications), Karan Christopher (McCord Communications), Teresa Crosslin (Big G Express).

From left to right: Congressman Joe Courtney (D-CT), Congressman John B. Larson (D-CT), Steve Sabourin, GM of Carris Reels in Enfield, CT, and Congressman Richard E. Neal (D-MA). In an email from Steve Sabourin of Carris Reels:  “This was a great chance meeting at the airport after visiting Congressman Neal the day before.  Congressman Neal said he loved the way we do things.  I asked him what he meant.  Basically, he loved that employee owners were making visits.  I am guessing he sees this as better than a top exec or a lobbyist.”

From left to right: Congressman Joe Courtney (D-CT), Congressman John B. Larson (D-CT), Steve Sabourin, GM of Carris Reels in Enfield, CT, and Congressman Richard E. Neal (D-MA).
In an email from Steve Sabourin of Carris Reels:
“This was a great chance meeting at the airport after visiting Congressman Neal the day before. Congressman Neal said he loved the way we do things. I asked him what he meant. Basically, he loved that employee owners were making visits. I am guessing he sees this as better than a top exec or a lobbyist.”

Northwest Chapter President, Judy Lippel, Sletten, Inc., with Montana members of Congress on Capitol Hill:  Senator Jon Tester (D-MT), Congressman Steve Daines (R-MT) and Senator John E. Walsh (D-MT).

Northwest Chapter President, Judy Lippel, Sletten, Inc., with Montana members of Congress on Capitol Hill: Senator Jon Tester (D-MT), Congressman Steve Daines (R-MT) and Senator John E. Walsh (D-MT).

New England Chapter members visit with Congressman Richard E. Neal (D-MA).

New England Chapter members visit with Congressman Richard E. Neal (D-MA).

Illinois Chapter members visit with Congresswoman Robin Kelly (D-IL).

Illinois Chapter members visit with Congresswoman Robin Kelly (D-IL).

Illinois Chapter members visit with Congressman Brad Schneider (D-IL).

Illinois Chapter members visit with Congressman Brad Schneider (D-IL).

Filed under: Government Affairs, TEA Members, , , ,

SEL Employee Owners Share Experiences with Illinois Congressman

On June 5, 2014, Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, Inc. (SEL) employee owners shared their perspectives on company ownership with Congressman Peter Roskam (R-IL) when he visited the company’s Fault Indicator and Sensor Division in Lake Zurich, Illinois.

This is Congressman Roskam’s second visit to SEL’s Lake Zurich facility. Last year, the Congressman toured the manufacturing floor and learned about SEL and the products and services it provides for power systems around the world. This time he watched a distribution automation smart grid demonstration and spoke with some of the 95 employee owners about the company’s ESOP.

Senior Manufacturing Supervisor Jose Perez, who has been with the company for nearly 25 years, said when SEL became employee-owned he went from just having a job to being an owner. Human Resources Generalist Linda Coleman, an employee for more than 29 years, noted she works with happier people in an employee-owned company, calling the retirement security “a blessing.”

Congressman Roskam indicated his strong support for ESOPs, which can help employees save for retirement, and Roskam encouraged those in attendance to continue talking about the benefits of ESOPs with their coworkers.

Thanks to SEL for sharing this news with the Association.

SEl Roskam visit

Filed under: Government Affairs, TEA Members, , , ,

Supreme Court ESOP Decision: Reaction & Commentary

ESOP Association President, J. Michael Keeling, offers the Association’s reaction to the recent Supreme Court ESOP decision as well as additional commentary for the ESOP community.

Read the Association’s release.

Filed under: Government Affairs, ,

Supreme Court ESOP Decision a Disappointing Mish-Mash

The ESOP Association sent out the following release today.

For Immediate Release: June 25, 2014

For More Information: Amy Gwiazdowski, 202/293-2971, amy AT esopassociation.org

Supreme Court ESOP Decision a Disappointing Mish-Mash

(Washington, DC) June 25, 2014: “Today’s Supreme Court decision that says Congress’s near 40 year history of promoting employee ownership does not protect fiduciaries of employee stock ownership plans, or ESOPs, from lawsuits triggered by company stock price declines, is a disappointing mish-mash,” said ESOP Association President, J. Michael Keeling.

President Keeling’s statement is in response to the Court’s decision in Fifth Third Bancorp v. Dudenhoeffer. Congress has sanctioned ESOPs since 1974, and since the Moench decision in the mid-1990s, and thus the so-called Moench presumption, that lower Federal courts have all upheld, created a presumption that the ESOP fiduciary should hold company stock unless the company was collapsing. It is this pro-ESOP position the Court overruled in today’s case. Part IV of the decision, relevant primarily to publicly-traded companies, sets forth standards for future lawsuits to be used by lower Federal Courts that strongly suggest that “dumping” company stock from the ESOP is not required when share price declines, and leaves a more muddied guideline for a publicly-traded company fiduciary acquiring more shares for the ESOP when the share price is declining. The Supreme Court gives no standard for the “extent” of decline that would perhaps require halting the acquisition of shares.

“So even though Part IV of the decision is not a flat out requirement that the fiduciary dump the company stock, or quit acquiring company stock for the ESOP, it is unclear guidance for fiduciaries of non-traded companies with ESOPs, which are 99% of the ESOP sponsors in the U.S., when the share value of the private company declines,” said Keeling.

In sum, how this opinion affects ESOP plan sponsors is a mish-mash: more guidance on when a fiduciary of an ESOP is not prudent when acquiring stock for the ESOP, and almost a clear statement that dumping the stock on the market is not prudent, while leaving fiduciaries of non-traded companies with ESOPs, which are nearly all the ESOPs in the U.S., without guidance. It will probably result in more lawsuits.

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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 – www.esopassociation.org and blog – www.esopassociationblog.org.

Filed under: Government Affairs,

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