Van Meter Invests in New Option for Growth

ESOP Association member Van Meter Inc. has made its first foray into taking equity in another business. After listening to pitches from select entrepreneurs, Van Meter chose to invest in Eyedro Green Solutions of Ontario, Canada.

One reason Van Meter decided to take the plunge is because Eyedro’s “product offering is in line with our business,” says Scott Cornish, Van Meter’s vice president of diversified business. The company also expects this move to enable its employee owners to see continued company growth.

“We are fortunate to be in a strong financial position, giving us the ability to plant seeds for the future beyond our day-to-day business,” says Cornish. “We want to be generational and lay the groundwork for future employee-owners.”

ESOPs Better Than Mega Mergers?

ESOP Association member Mary Josephs of Verit Advisors recently penned an article for Forbes’ website that points out that corporate mega mergers have a track record of spurring layoffs. And that ESOPs (which, incidentally, have a track record of preserving jobs) can spur employee engagement and performance, which can lead businesses to a brighter future.

ESOPs are “an under-utilized capitalization format that has the potential to help American business regain and extend its edge globally,” she writes.

One of our favorite quotes? “The point of employee ownership isn’t to blunt the effects of the markets on workers…it’s to play capitalism as a team sport.”

Read the entire article here: http://www.forbes.com/sites/maryjosephs/2015/12/10/if-u-s-industry-plays-not-to-lose-what-does-playing-to-win-look-like/

A Time to Review (Communications)

Most of us are so busy looking to the present or the future that we forget to take a moment to look backwards.

Think about a super productive week you had. You probably got tons of work done, solved problems, worked well with others, and felt great about what you accomplished.

Then what did you do?

You probably went home and enjoyed a well-earned rest. And Monday, you started all over again tackling a new set of challenges.

At what point do we actually sit back and take stock of what we’ve done?

The way to learn from past experiences, or simply appreciate what you’ve already done, is by taking stock, and The ESOP Association’s AACE program provides a great opportunity to do that. For many people, reviewing their communications efforts and and taking a moment to explain to an awards committee why they were effective and well suited to the organization is a very powerful exercise.

You probably intuitively know why Communications Project 1 was more effective than Communications Project 2, but when you have to articulate it, you might just come across some new lessons. And you certainly will have an easier time explaining to your boss, employee owners, or consultants what you want to change next time.

For those of you using the end of the year to gather financial and team performance data, this is a great opportunity—while you have all the information handy—to reassess your communication efforts. What worked? What didn’t? How would you do things differently? What can you share with others, by entering the AACE program? What can you learn by attending the awards meeting and comparing notes on what has worked for other ESOPs?

There is no cost to enter the program—only potential benefits that you can use to make your communication better in 2016. That is, when you are ready to look ahead.

Click here for the AACE entry form and brochure.

ESOPs Get Even More Attractive

Many workers spend more in retirement than they did while working.
Many workers spend more in retirement than they did while working.

ESOP companies that offer additional retirement options, such as 401(k)s, may have just gotten more appealing to job applicants.

Here’s why: Typically, workers are advised to think of the fraction (80 percent, 60 percent, etc.) of their current take home pay they will want to have available in retirement. But many workers spend more when they retire, not less, according to new research from the Employee Benefits Research Institute (EBRI).

And that means companies offering multiple ways to save—such as a combination of an ESOP and other vehicles—should be even more attractive to workers.

EBRI found that nearly half (45.9 percent) of households it studied spent more per year in early retirement than they did while working.

How much more? In the first two years of retirement, 28 percent of households studied spent 20 percent more, per year, than they did before quitting their day jobs. And while spending in general trended downward over time for those studied, for some it still remained high: Six years after retirement, 23 percent of households were still spending 20 percent more, per year, than they did before retiring. (See chart.)

These finding suggests two things:

  • It’s wise to let current employee owners know they may need to save more than they expect for retirement.
  • Companies that offer multiple retirement savings options may want to point out to current and prospective employees the value of having multiple ways to build up retirement savings.

If your ESOP firm is not one of those offering multiple ways to save, the data show you are in the minority.

Among ESOP Association members, 96.2 percent also offer a 401(k) plan or pension plan, according to 2015 member survey data.

More broadly, 56 percent of companies that have an ESOP offer a second retirement savings plan. Only 47 percent of companies overall offer even one defined contribution retirement plan. So ESOP companies are more likely to offer two forms of retirement savings—the ESOP and another plan, such as a 401(k)—than most companies are to offer one. (These are the findings of a study released in 2010 of Department of Labor Form 5500 data. The study was funded by the Employee Ownership Foundation and conducted by the National Center for Employee Ownership.)

Offering two retirement options means ESOPs are also providing employees with another way to diversify their retirement savings.

For example, Chris Tiel, executive vice president and CFO of Alterman Group, an ESOP company, recently was quoted by the Motley Fool as saying: “We offer 401(k) with a match to help our employee-owners achieve a diversified retirement portfolio.” Alterman Group was recently singled out by Principal Financial Group as one of 10 companies that have the most financially healthy employees.