Been There; Done That. Does It Have to Be?

The following article originally ran as the President’s Page column in the February 2015 issue of the ESOP Report, the newsletter of The ESOP Association.

Human nature is often an enemy of enthusiasm. By this statement I mean it is normal for a mature ESOP company to react with a ‘been there, done that,’ attitude when pondering how to keep the enthusiasm for employee ownership vibrant among the company employees.

In recent years, when I visit ESOP companies, I often find myself talking to company executives, ESOP committee members, or HR professionals of a company that has had an ESOP for 10, 15, 20, 25, or even more years.

Often, here is the story I hear:

“Well, when we finally put the ESOP in place, needless to say, we were somewhat focused on the details of being sure we met the law and regulations. We were somewhat surprised how creating the ESOP tapped our resources, both money and time wise.

We had our ESOP advisors, and felt that they could keep us posted on all we needed to know.

We told the employees we had an ESOP, but most just scratched their heads, wondering what kind of scheme had been cooked up, as no one was seeing any extra money in her or his pocket.

In sum, we were what one might say a “sleepy” ESOP, assuming that employees would be excited about being owners, and would want to do more and be better.

After some employees left vested, and others saw that the person did get real value, interest seemed to perk up, and we could sense the employees wanted to be more attuned to what this ESOP and their role in being a beneficial owner meant.

So in about year five or so, we began to have employees exposed to other men and women like them at Association Chapter meetings, the national Annual Conference, and the Foundation’s Employee Owner Retreat, for example.

Top level executives, and average pay employees saw the AACE entries, heard about winners of AACE, ESOP Company of the Year, Employee Owner of the Year, attended the Annual Awards Banquet. Some employees became the ‘champions’ for making sure others in the company knew we were special, and everyone would benefit the better if we maximized the human side of ESOPs as a company.

So we entered AACE. We put in applications for awards with our Chapter and thus nationally. We created an ESOP communications committee; we made sure average pay employees were at meetings, networking with others in ESOP companies, and going to break out sessions about ownership culture and the human side of ESOPs.

But after five years or more of going, going, entering, entering, it sort of became old hat all of this intangible ‘love’ of being ESOP.

We need a revival so to speak. We are a good company, don’t get me wrong; but we just wonder if all of this ‘going, participating, entering’ stuff is worth it as we have been down that road, and we do not regret it; but the enthusiasm is gone.”

Well, after hearing this story, I do not jump up and down preaching that persistence is the key to an ESOP company maximizing their ownership structure; persistence is in keeping the enthusiasm alive. But the truth is each company, for many different reasons — growth, or new employees, or new business initiatives — needs to be engaged with the ESOP community year in and year out.

Accepting that the ‘old’ stuff has no more intrinsic value can diminish the subjective impact that being employee-owned has on a better performing company, with a more dedicated, and a more experienced work force, that builds wealth for all.

So, exposing ESOP people to the various tactics used to build a good company, learning about new tactics not used before, is a major way to end ennui that can arise in a mature ESOP company.

March 2015 ESOP Report

The March 2015 ESOP Report newsletter 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.

March2015ESOPReportCOVERsmall

March 2015 Upcoming Events

Following is a list of ESOP Association Chapter events taking place in March 2015. Additional events can be found on the calendar.

 

Northwest Chapter – “ESOPs – Continuing the Education Process” (Anchorage, AK)

March 3, 2015

Northwest Chapter

ESOPs – Continuing the Education Process – Anchorage, AK

Hosted by Alaska Rubber & Rigging Supply

5811 Old Seward Highway

Anchorage, AK  99518

CLICK HERE to Register Online
NW Chapter Printable Registration Form – Alaska
For more information contact Jenifer McDonald at jenifer@caws-esop.org or 916.333.3280

 

 

Iowa/Nebraska Chapter – 2015 IA/NE Chapter Annual Conference (Cedar Rapids, IA)

March 3, 2015

Iowa/Nebraska Chapter

2015 IA/NE Chapter Annual Conference Agenda

Cedar Rapids Marriott

1200 Collins RD. N.E.

Cedar Rapids, IA 52402

Click to register

2015 Printable Registration IA-NE – March

Click on the 2015 Sponsorship Form to sponsor an Iowa/Nebraska Chapter Event! 2015 IA-NE Chapter Sponsorship Form
For more information contact Donna Walseth at dwalseth@esopexec.org or 763.785.4122

 

 

Indiana Chapter – Annual ESOP Conference (Carmel, IN)

March 4, 2015

Indiana Chapter

2015 Indiana Chapter Annual ESOP Conference Agenda

Ritz Charles Carmel

12156 N Meridian St

Carmel, IN 46032

Click to register

For more information contact Karrie Imbrogno at karrie@esopchapters.com or 440.989.1552

 

 

Illinois Chapter – 2015 Annual Conference (Oak Brook, IL)

March 5, 2015

Illinois Chapter

2015 Illinois Chapter Annual Conference Agenda – Oak Brook

Chicago Marriott Oak Brook

Oak Brook, Il  60523

www.marriott.com/chiob

Click to register

2015 Printable Registration IL ESOP – March

2015 Illinois Chapter Speaker Proposal Form

2015 Illinois Chapter Sponsorship Form

For more information contact Donna Walseth at dwalseth@esopexec.org or 763.785.4122

 

 

Wisconsin Chapter – “The Year of the All Star ESOP” Spring Conference (Waukesha, WI)

March 9, 2015

Wisconsin Chapter

“The Year of the All Star ESOP” WIESOP Spring Conference Agenda

Marriott Milwaukee West

W231 N1600 Corporate Court

Waukesha, 53186

For more information contact Donna Walseth at dwalseth@esopexec.org or 763.785.4122

Click to register

2015 Printable Registration WI ESOP – March

2015 Wisconsin Chapter Sponsorship Form

 

 

OH/KY Chapter – Annual Spring ESOP Conference (Powell, OH)

March 18, 2015

Ohio/Kentucky Chapter

2015 OH/KY Annual Spring ESOP Conference Brochure

Bridgewater Banquet & Conference Center

10561 Sawmill Pkwy

Powell, OH 43065

Click to register

For more information contact Karrie Imbrogno at karrie@esopchapters.com or 440.989.1552

 

 

New York & New Jersey Chapter – New York City ESOP Roundtable (New York, NY)

March 18, 2015

New York & New Jersey Chapter

2015 New York City ESOP Roundtable

Hosted by Duff & Phelps, LLC.

55 East 52nd Street – Floor 31

New York, NY  10055
Click to register

For more information contact Shelly Dennis at sdennis@esopexec.org or 603.756.3441

 

 

Iowa/Nebraska Chapter – CEO/CFO Roundtable (Conrad, IA)

March 19, 2015

Iowa/Nebraska Chapter

2015 CEO/CFO Roundtable – Conrad, IA

Hosted by Ritchie Industries

Conrad, IA

Click to register

2015 Sponsorship Form-IA/NE

For more information contact Donna Walseth at dwalseth@esopexec.org or 763.785.4122

 

 

Minnesota/Dakotas Chapter – Professional Member Breakfast (Minneapolis, MN)

March 19, 2015

Minnesota/Dakotas Chapter

2015 Professional Member Breakfast – Walman

Walman Optical

Minneapolis, MN

For more information contact Sue Crockett at scrockett@esopexec.org or 612.872.4375

 

 

New England Chapter – 2015 CEO Conference (Newport, RI)

March 19th & 20th, 2015

New England Chapter

2015 CEO Conference – Newport, RI

Castle Hill Inn

5900 Ocean Ave.

Newport, RI  02840

Click to register

For more information contact Shelly Dennis at sdennis@esopexec.org or 603.756.3441

 

 

Mid-Atlantic & Carolina’s Chapter – 2015 ESOP Invitational Conference & Golf Tournament (Pinehurst Resort, NC)

March 22-24, 2015

Mid-Atlantic & Carolina’s Chapter

2015 ESOP Invitational Conference & Golf Tournament Agenda

Pinehurst Resort, NC

www.pinehurst.com

Click to register

Click to Register for the March 22, 2015 Golf Outing: 2015 MAC-CAR ESOP Invitational Golf Registration – Pinehurst

Printable Conference Registration Form:

MAC-CAR Chapters Registration Form – Pinehurst 2015

2015 ESOP Invitational Conference Sponsorship – Car-Mac Chapters

For more information contact Shelly Dennis at sdennis@esopexec.org – 603.756.3441 or Donna Walseth at dwalseth@esopexec.org – 763.785.4122

 

 

New South Chapter – 2015 Spring Workshop and Awards Dinner (Atlanta, GA)

March 26, 2015

New South Chapter

2015 NS Chapter Spring Workshop and Awards Dinner Agenda

Maggiano’s Little Italy – Perimeter Mall

4400 Ashford

Dunwoody Road

Atlanta, GA  30346

http://locations.maggianos.com/us/georgia/dunwoody/perimeter
Click to register

For more information contact Donna Walseth at dwalseth@esopexec.org or 763.785.4122

 

 

Southwest Chapter – 17th Annual Awards Banquet & Spring Conference (Grapevine, TX)

March 26 – 27, 2015

Southwest Chapter

17th Annual Awards Banquet & Spring Conference – Grapevine, TX

Hilton DFW Lakes

1800 Texas 26

Grapevine, TX 76051

Click to register

For more information contact Jim Schranz at 903.575.7345 or via e-mail at jschranz7@gmail.com

 

 

Michigan Chapter – 2015 Annual Spring Conference (Lansing, MI)

March 30, 2015

Michigan Chapter

2015 Annual Spring Conference – Lansing, MI

Lansing Center

333 E. Michigan Ave.

Lansing, MI 48933
For more information contact Karrie Imbrogno at karrie@esopchapters.com or 440.989.1552