The following article originally ran as the May 2014 Washington Report column in the ESOP Report. The ESOP Report is the newsletter of The ESOP Association. The full issue can be found on the Association’s website under Meet & Learn.
One thing that inside the beltway lobbyist types brag about is how they keep the grass roots, the voters, in a member of Congress’ district informed, and armed with tactics to make the case for the law[s] important to their jobs. Common is intelligence provided to an association’s reader about a piece of legislation of interest, talking points boiled down to one page or less, and when appropriate, some background on the member’s prior record on issues of interest. For example, at the recent 37th Annual Conference, the Association’s Washington staff provided attendees with a booklet, with perforated tear out pages to leave off when visiting a member of Congress, plus listings of members who were sponsoring pro-ESOP legislation, and a reminder to be gracious when acknowledging that Chair of Ways and Means Committee Dave Camp’s [R-MI], massive tax reform proposal did not reduce current law benefiting ESOPs and ESOP participants.
But, on April 11, 2014, Shawn Moody, President of Moody’s Collision Centers, Inc. in Gorham, ME, and his fellow employee owners, put on an event for Maine’s senior Senator Susan Collins that embodied a very, very powerful message of what employee ownership means to the men and women working in Maine ESOP companies.
What did Moody’s Collision do? Beginning in late February, Moody’s notified all the ESOP companies in Maine that are members of The ESOP Association about a “fund raiser” for Senator Collins. In this day and age, it seems that everyone running for Congress will not darken the doors of a fund raiser on their behalf unless tickets are $500 per person, and some of the New York City and Hollywood events run $5,000 per ticket; but not Moody’s — for $25 a person, their conference room event was open to the employee owners of Maine ESOP Association members. Repeat — $25 a person. A true grass roots fund raiser.
When she arrived, Senator Collins saw a room packed with women and men from nine different Maine ESOP companies. Some were dressed for office jobs, even some men in suits and ties. Some were dressed for their jobs on a manufacturing floor — work books, work shirts, khakis. Some had grey hair, or no hair — others were in their twenties.
The positive vibe of ESOPs was in the air.
While Senator Collins has been a consistent, and longtime advocate for ESOPs in the U.S. Senate, when she walked out the door, she knew that ESOPs in Maine represented the people of those ESOP companies — different income levels yes; but all part of the capitalistic system — owners.
A big tip of the hat to the leaders of Moody’s Collision — the New England Chapter’s 2014 ESOP Company of the Year — an example to follow.