Carris Reels Beats the Drum for ESOPs and Employee Ownership

April 16, 2015, in Proctor, Vermont, Carris Reels hosted an employee-ownership celebration, conversation, and film festival — three events baked into one!

The evening started with a happy hour featuring beer crafted by employee-owned Harpoon Brewery and several employee owners from Harpoon were able to attend the event as well. Carris Reels is also proud to have had friends from employee-owned King Arthur Flour from Norwich, Vermont and Hypertherm of Lebanon, New Hampshire in attendance.

The program featured nationally renowned speakers, including Alex Moss from Praxis Consulting of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Mr. Moss’s speech focused on the power of owning your work. Michael Keeling, President of The ESOP Association from Washington, DC, talked about the appeal of the ESOP model to champions in both parties, such as Congressman Paul Ryan and Senator Bernie Sanders. Mr. Keeling also amplified Senator Sanders’ message that employee ownership should be important national policy. Daphne Berry, a Kelso Fellow and Assistant Professor from the University of Hartford, Barney School of Business spoke about her research. Interestingly, the statistics she cited from her research showed greater engagement in ESOP-owned companies than in traditionally-owned companies and also greater than in non-profit organizations. Susan Reid, Editorial Director of Sift Magazine and employee owner of King Arthur Flour talked about her experiences working at an employee-owned company and many of the things King Arthur Flour’s employee owners have in common with other employee-owned companies.

The evening began with a warm welcome by David Ferraro, President of Carris Reels and concluded with Chairman of the Board Bill Carris’ reflections on Carris Reels’ 20 years as an employee-owned company. Dave Fitz-Gerald, Carris Reels’ Vice President, who also serves as Secretary/Treasurer of The ESOP Association and a trustee for the Employee Ownership Foundation, served as master of ceremonies and during the course of his various statements during the evening advocated for ESOP owned companies to “adopt a Kelso Fellow” so that researchers could have access to information about privately-held ESOP owned companies.

The heart of the evening was a series of video presentations, the foundation of which was a lively four minute video made especially for the occasion by Senator Sanders followed by a mash-up video of various other members of Congress representing both political parties. Next on the program were short company videos from King Arthur Flour, Harpoon Brewery and Carris Reels. The feature presentation was “We the Owners,” an award-winning documentary film that captures the inspiring stories of three employee-owned companies.

Volunteers from Carris Reels staffed a 50/50 raffle for benefit of The Paramount Theater. The winner of the raffle was Carris Reels’ 50 year employee-owner Jake Jakubowski who went home $245 richer. In addition to the $245 raised for the Paramount the Carris Foundation made a triple match donation to the Paramount in the amount of $1,470 and also made a $1,470 matching donation to the Employee Ownership Foundation to support its work on research and educating the general public about employee ownership.

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Thanks to Dave Fitz-Gerald of Carris Reels for sharing the photos and story with the ESOP Report.

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