The ESOP Association Blog

Covering ESOPs and employee ownership

January 2014 Link Round Up

I case you missed something last month…

The call went out for 2014 AACE Award submissions

The January 2014 Tax Reform Update was released

We talked about the importance of advocacy work

We celebrated the 2013 AACE Award winners

The new 2014 educational programs were announced

Some tips on how to make your AACE Award stand out

The 2014 Edmunson Scholarships were announced

ESOP Association members made Fortune’s best companies to work for list

The January 2014 ESOP Report was published

New members welcome


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

Celebrating the AACE Awards

The 2014 AACE Awards are now open for submissions. Deadline is February 14, 2014. More information, Awards guidelines, and entry forms can be found on The ESOP Association’s website.

Let’s take a look back at 2013 and celebrate the winners.

Filed under: AACE - Annual Awards for Communications Excellence, TEA Members, ,

2014 AACE Awards Brochure

The 2014 AACE Awards brochure is now available. The 2014 publication contains updated information on guidelines and a new deadline submission date — deadline February 14, 2014!

For more information: AACE Awards 2014
To download the 2014 brochure: 2014 AACE Awards Brochure
2014 AACE Cover Final

Filed under: AACE - Annual Awards for Communications Excellence, Employee Ownership Message, Member Services, Publication, TEA Members, , ,

2014 AACE Awards Program

esopaacedarkerThe AACE Awards program will see a few changes in 2014. Following is a brief roundup; for more information, please visit the AACE Awards page on The ESOP Association’s website.  Additional information will be posted in the coming weeks.

We’re looking forward to another year of exceptional entries from ESOP Association members.

New Deadline

The new deadline will be February 14th (Valentine’s Day) for all materials.

Presentation Videos

All presentation videos should be put on YouTube, with a link provided via email by February 14th. There is a new five (5) minute time limit. Be sure to also provide the link on the entry form.

Internet Entries

Links to internet entries should also be provided via email by February 14th. Be sure to also provide the link on the entry form.

Intranet Entries

A link to a web address is preferred (limited access if needed), along with a password. Be sure to also provide the web address and password on the entry form. Intranet entries can be printed, but text must be large enough to read easily. Full page screen shots are acceptable, showing what would be available in a browser. You may black out private information. As an alternative, a CD/DVD can be sent in the formats of PDF (readable in the free version of Adobe Acrobat), JPG or PNG. Label clearly. (All deadlines are arrival by February 14th).

Links for presentation videos, internet entries, and intranet entries should all be provided via email to PatBarnesArt AT

Categories Prepared As Separate Units

Each category should be entered as a separate unit, either in a (tabbed) larger notebook(s) or in individual smaller notebooks. It is very important that these be labeled and easy for judges to find. There is no need to send another notebook for the Total Communications Category, unless there are additional materials not included in the other individual units. This category should also be marked on the entry form.

For questions regarding these changes or about the AACE Awards program, please contact Pat Barnes at PatBarnesArt AT, or call (304) 876-3624.

Filed under: AACE - Annual Awards for Communications Excellence, Member Services, TEA Members, , , ,

Annual Awards Ceremony to Honor AACE Award Winners

Will you be joining us for the 36th Annual Conference in Washington, DC on May 9th and 10th this year? If so, don’t forget about the Awards Ceremony on the evening of May 8th to honor the 2013 AACE Award and ESOP Award winners.

This year, each registrant for the 36th Annual Conference is entitled to one ticket to the Awards Ceremony; the ticket price is included in the registration fee. Come celebrate employee ownership with employee owners from across the nation.

In advance of the 2013 Awards Ceremony, we thought we’d take a look back at the 2012 AACE Award winners. Click on the video below to view a brief re-cap of some of the 2012 winners.

We hope to see you at the Awards Ceremony in Washington, DC on May 8th.

Details on the 2013 Annual Conference:

36th Annual ESOP Conference

“ESOPs: Your Job, Our Job, America’s Job”
May 9 & 10, 2013

Awards Ceremony the evening of May 8th
Renaissance Washington Hotel
Washington, DC
Contact Rosemary Clements or Maya Van Buren (202) 293-2971 or

More information here.

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

Annual Conference 2013

Save the date —May 9 & 10, 2013 for The ESOP Association’s 36th Annual Conference in Washington, DC. Information about the Annual Conference can be found on The ESOP Association’s website here.

New in 2013, each attendee will be entitled to attend the Awards Ceremony on Wednesday, May 8th. [Cost of the Awards Ceremony ticket is included in the conference registration price.]

The Awards Ceremony is the largest recognition program for ESOP companies that promote and excel in their employee ownership communication efforts. The ceremony also honors the ESOP Company of the Year and the Employee Owner of the Year award winners. Many ESOP advocates consider the Awards Ceremony to be the highlight of the Annual Conference.

The ESOP Association is in the process of preparing the conference program and on-line registration materials. Information will be updated on the website as it becomes available.

Be a part of The ESOP Associations’ 36th Annual Conference, the oldest and largest ESOP company focused conference in America.

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

A Message from The ESOP Association President on Employee Ownership Month

ESOP Association President, J. Michael Keeling, shares this message with Association members across the U.S. celebrating Employee Ownership Month this October.

More information about Employee Ownership Month can be found here.

Filed under: Employee Ownership Month (EOM), , , ,

AACE Awards 2013 – A Few Tips on Winning

With the Annual Conference over and the 2012 AACE Awards awarded, it seems AACE is still on peoples’ minds so we thought what a better time to talk about winning!

On the AACE Awards section of the Association’s website, there is a tips for winning section which contains information on what you need to know about AACE, how to organize your entry, how AACE is judged, and a few tips on what makes a winning AACE entry.

First, a thank you to AACE Program Manager, Pat Barnes, for sharing the following information. If you have any questions about AACE, please feel free to contact Pat at

Also, mark your calendar — the deadline for 2013 AACE Awards entries is March 1, 2013.

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 (although The ESOP Association usually tries to avoid promoting a gambling 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.

Organization of an AACE entry is important. A clear, concise commentary on the situation, how it was addressed and if it was effective (and how did you determine that – survey, etc). is your opportunity to “tell your story” to the judges. If you have just a few things to enter, you probably want to enter an individual category. For more than just a few, enter the Total Program Category, plus the individual categories as well. (You can’t win that crystal obelisk two years in a row for the same category).

Many companies enter with an organized notebook, and although it is not necessary, a tri-fold foam core display board such as those used in science fairs. (Please don’t send heavy or oversized display boards, as shipping costs are very high. Also please limit your entry to one display board.) Notebooks are surprisingly fragile, so don’t overfill them or the rings may warp in transit. It’s better to use two notebooks than one overfilled one. Also, weight limit per box is 30 pounds. Please do not send products, or product materials unless they specifically relate to ownership/ESOP. There is no need to send duplicate materials. Banners? A nice photograph will do. Trucks? A nice photograph will do there, too.

The AACE Program started with eight small entries 26 years ago, and has grown until entering, seeing what others have done and networking with peers has become one of the most productive benefits afforded by The ESOP Association in the ownership communications field. There’s also the fact that you’ve made an overview and now have a record of your ownership communications in the past year. Be sure to enter and take full advantage of this program. Deadline for arrival of entry is March 1, 2013.

A few more AACE Awards resources:

The list of 2012 AACE Award winners

Have a question or a comment about an entry, contact the company and ask. In our experience, companies who enter AACE are happy to talk about their entries.

2012 AACE Award Judges’ Comments

Want to know what caught a judge’s eye, read the comments and find out.

Paul Horn, the volunteer chair of the AACE Program, wrote a guest post with a few tips on winning as well.

Take a look at the 2011 AACE Awards videos:

Filed under: AACE - Annual Awards for Communications Excellence, Member Services, , ,

Awards Banquet – Get Your Tickets Now!

The ESOP Association’s Annual Awards Banquet — The Night ESOP Stars Shine — is shaping up to be a big hit this year. Join your fellow employee owners in celebrating the achievements of the ESOP community.

The Awards Banquet will be held Wednesday, May 9th from 7:00 – 10:00 PM. This is a separate ticketed event for the Annual Conference. To purchase your ticket, send an email to or call 202/293-2971 and ask for the meetings department.

Also, don’t forget to stop by the AACE Awards Display. All of this year’s AACE Awards entries will be on display at the Annual Conference. View the communications tools used by these ESOP companies and take a few ideas back to your own company. This year’s display will be even larger than last year — 50 ESOP companies submitted entries for the 2012 AACE Awards! If you’re curious about this year’s AACE Awards winners, take a look.

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

AACE Awards – Looking Back at 2011 (part 7)

Part 7

Continuing with our re-cap of AACE Award entry posts… What we want to share in a series of posts are photos of this year’s entries.  Over the course of several weeks, all of the companies that entered this year’s awards program will be featured here.

If you want more information about the AACE Awards, you can find it here.

Today we bring you:

Recology, San Francisco, CA

Thomson-Shore, Inc., Dexter, MI

Van Meter Inc., Cedar Rapids, IA

Vermeer Texas-Louisiana, Inc., Irving, TX


VISTA Technology Services, Inc., Herndon, VA

Filed under: AACE - Annual Awards for Communications Excellence, Employee Ownership Message, TEA Members, , ,

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