And One More Employee Ownership Month Post

Today’s Employee Ownership Month (EOM) ideas come from ESOP Association members, Carl Warren & Company and ComSonics, Inc.

Carl Warren & Company Reaches Out to Members of Congress

While not specifically related to Employee Ownership Month, it’s a great year round project by the employee owners of Carl Warren & Company to raise the company profile and get the most out of their ESOP Company of the Year title in 2013. The employee owners are reaching out to their members of Congress and telling them about being named the 2013 ESOP Company of the Year.

Earlier in the year, the company received letters of congratulations from Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) and Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) congratulating the employee owners in the Georgia location; a certificate of recognition from Placentia Mayor, Scott Nelson; and a letter of congratulations from Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS) to the employee owners in the Kansas location. See this post for the letters. Additionally, former Congressman Joe Baca (D-CA) stopped by the company’s office.

Thanks to Caryn Siebert and Mark Bernstein for sharing the letters.

 Carl Warren – Letter from Congressman Scott Peters

Carl Warren – Letter from Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren

Carl Warren - Joe Baca with CWC team

ComSonics Inc. Pinks Out

From ComSonics, Inc.:

This year, our company has been directly impacted by breast cancer as we learned several months ago that one of our owners was diagnosed with this disease. As her treatment continues, we wanted to do something to show our support so we turned our day “Pink” on October 22nd and challenged owners to wear pink in honor of not just our fellow owner, but in honor of any loved ones who have faced this or any other health challenge in the last year. We served healthy snacks on this day also in keeping with our wellness incentives.

We were amazed by the number of guys who were proud to break out in pink and we were touched by the stories of survival and loss that were openly shared with our committee. And rather than giving the most “pink” person of the day a prize, we are preparing a special package that will be delivered to our recovering owner at home this week complete with a scrapbook from the day and special t-shirt from all of us who continue to keep her in our thoughts and prayers!

P.S. Even owners who had traveled to ATL for our national trade show on this date wore pink!

Thanks to Markita Madden for sharing the information and photos.

ComSonics 2ndshift_hbg

ComSonics christy_atl

ComSonics EOM 2

ComSonics EOM 3

ComSonics EOM

Two More EOM Celebration Ideas to Share

Today’s Employee Ownership Month (EOM) ideas come from ESOP Association members, Carris Reels and Entertainment Partners.

Carris Reels Raises a Flag and Cash

From Carris Reels:

To start off Employee Ownership Month, Carris Reels raised the ESOP flag over the company’s headquarters in Proctor, VT and employee owners in the company’s Virginia site donated an ESOP money tree to the Employee Ownership Foundation at the Mid-Atlantic Chapter conference held in early October. Employee owner, Kevin Hedrick, suggested a logo during Virginia’s October Planning Committee meeting and it was used on picnic t-shirts and throughout the month.

Carris EOM FLAG - 072


Carris EOM PaulTreeSteve

Thanks to Carris Reels for sharing photos.

Entertainment Partners Goes Old School and Sends out Employee Ownership Month Cards

The ESOP Association received this card from the employee owners of Entertainment Partners wishing everyone a happy Employee Ownership Month! Needless to say, we love it.

Entertainment Partners EOM Card 2

Entertainment Partners EOM Card

Restek Celebrates EOM with Life Long Learning

Today’s Employee Ownership Month (EOM) story comes from ESOP Association member, Restek Corporation.

On October 1st, Restek had two L3 (Life Long Learning) ESOP presentations from Jeff Gelburd of Murray Securus and Loren Rodgers of the National Center for Employee Ownership (NCEO) to kick-off ESOP month. Jeff’s presentation outlined his ESOP history, what Murray Securus has achieved as an ESOP and what it means to be a successful ESOP. Loren’s presentation outlined the varieties of ESOPs around the world, the state of ESOPs and data on effective ESOPs. We also had a Roundtable event with our ESOP Trustees and EOCT (Employee Owners Communication Team) where we received great suggestions, ideas and feedback from Loren. We also started our ESOP trivia game the same day. I attached our agenda for ESOP month as well. Our first day of events was very informative for our employees.

Restek’s October ESOP Month Activities

  • October 1st
    • Jeff Gelburd from Murray Securus will talk to us about how the ESOP at Murray Securus functions
    • Loren Rodgers from the National Center for Employee Ownership (NCEO) will present on the current state of ESOPs and will share some motivational words about being an ESOP company
  • October 10th
    • The EOCT will be re-showing the “We the Owners” DVD – A documentary about 3 different ESOPs are set up
    • We’ll be giving out a limited number of Restek’s ESOP poster magnets!
  • October 24th
    • Another screening of “What the Heck is an ESOP,” narrated by your favorite mad scientist, Scott Grossman, explaining how Restek’s ESOP works
    • Attendees will be entered into a raffle to win full sized Restek ESOP posters!
  • October 30th
    • Rebecca DeHainuat from our 401(k) provider will be coming to explain:
      • Accessing & Using the John Hancock Participant Website, including
      • Retirement Goal Setting
      • Retirement Fitness Quiz and Calculators

Restek EOM - JeffGelburd2013  Restek EOM - LorenRodgers2013

Restek EOM - LorenRodgersRoundtableThanks to Mike Shuey of Restek for sharing the company’s 2013 EOM events.

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Employee Ownership Month – Rodeo!

Today’s Employee Ownership Month (EOM) story comes from ESOP Association member, First National Bank of Bemidji.

Howdy! Since 2006, First National Bank of Bemidji has chosen a week in October to celebrate employee ownership. The ESOP Communications Committee began planning this year’s events in mid-August to ensure a fun-filled week for all employee owners. Celebrating our 28th year being employee-owned, this year’s theme encompassed everything “Rodeo!”

The events began on Thursday, October 3rd, with a kick-off meeting to share all of the fun events planned for the following week. The bank’s President, Tom Welle, gave our quarterly business update, and then the Rodeo commenced! With the ESOP Communications Committee dressed as rodeo clowns, rodeo queens, and a rodeo announcer, members of our Executive Management team competed in tricycle barrel racing, lassoing, and a cowboy boot putting contest. Many laughs were had, and ultimately, Tom “Leader of the Pack” Welle, won the competition, riding his horse, “Nice Guy!”

The events planned for ESOP Week included: Lassoing, Cowboy Boot Ball, a Cow-Tipping Contest, Horseshoes, and of course the return of our favorite game from last year, Sling-Shotting. The goal of Sling-Shotting this year was to knock over cans of Pork ‘n Beans! All games were played in our bank’s courtyard. Throughout our ESOP Week, there was also a Western-Themed Baking Contest, an “ESOP-Themed” Belt Buckle Contest, and “ESOP-Themed” Stick Horse Competition, and an ESOP’m Poker Tournament where cards for each employee’s poker hand were earned by answering ESOP quiz questions correctly. Employee owners wore nametags throughout the week stating, “I’m and owner,” and local media outlets covered the events throughout the week, helping to promote Employee Ownership Month. With employees dressing in casual Western-Wear throughout the week, many questions arose from customers, and many opportunities were taken to share the benefits of employee ownership!

Bemidji ESOP 3-Legged Race

Bemidji ESOP Belt Buckle Winner

Bemidji ESOP Communications Committee 2013

Bemidji ESOP Lasso

Bemidji ESOP Rodeo Clowns

Bemidji ESOP S'Mores

Bemidji ESOP Tricycle

Thanks to Nikki Brink of First National Bank of Bemidji for sharing the company’s EOM story with the Association.

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Celebrating Employee Owners – Another Employee Ownership Month Story to Share

Today’s Employee Ownership Month (EOM) story comes from ESOP Association member, Wenck Associates Inc.

Since Wenck’s founding, we have celebrated our successes together at our annual retreat. At each year’s retreat we reflect on the past year together and focus on the strengths and talents of our people as we plan for the next year. In 2006, Wenck became a 100% ESOP owned company. Our ESOP culture is driven by our members, who each act as an owner of this firm. We’re now 200+ people strong and excited about where we’re going.

Thanks to Lisa Willing of Wenck Associates Inc. for sharing this info with the Association.

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Carrying on the Employee Ownership Month Theme

Today’s Employee Ownership Month (EOM) story comes from ESOP Association member, Adworkshop.

Trikes for Tots: Adworkshop’s Employee Owners Donate Fleet of Tricycles to Two Charity Organizations

Every October, Lake Placid’s Adworkshop joins the estimated 11,000 ESOPs in the United States to celebrate National ESOP Month. During this time, ESOPs across the country participate in community outreach and education to further public awareness and celebrate another year of employee ownership.

This year, Adworkshop, is celebrating its 6th anniversary as an ESOP with the theme “Back to School – ESOP Style,” featuring a series of events such as Art Class, Pep Rally, and, on October 17, Shop Class for their annual holiday fundraiser. Employees split into teams to assemble 12 tricycles to donate to two local charity organizations: The North Elba Christmas Fund and the Holiday Helpers for their annual holiday fundraisers.

Adworkshop EOM 2013 - Trikes for Tots

Above, the Adworkshop team poses with the 12 tricycles and representatives from the North Elba Christmas Fund and Holiday Helpers. The tricycles were assembled by Adworkshop team members to donate to the organizations as part of their annual holiday fundraisers.

Thanks to Adworkshop’s Rebecca Steffan for sharing the company’s EOM celebration with the Association.

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Employee Ownership Month Celebrations

Since we’re halfway through Employee Ownership Month, we thought we’d highlight a few more celebrations members have shared with us. Today, The Saxton Group in Dallas, TX and Big G Express in Shelbyville, TN.

From an email from Adam Saxton: “The Saxton Group is a restaurant franchisee with 54 McAlister’s Deli locations in Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Kansas. We are a 100% ESOP formed in December 2012 and to our knowledge are the largest 100% Employee Owned company in the restaurant industry.

In order to celebrate our first Employee Ownership Month as an ESOP, we have created a month long event that gives something to our employee owners while also giving back to the community. We believe the spirit of giving and community involvement is a critical part of ESOP culture and are proud to have created an event that allows our employees to give back.

In summary, our current restaurant uniform is khaki pants for our employee owner team members. However, we have long had the request from our employees to be able to wear jeans to work. This October, we are allowing our employees to wear jeans to work to celebrate Employee Ownership Month but are also hosting a drive to collect over 100 pairs of Khaki pants in each location to donate to the Salvation Army.”

Take a look at the Khaki Pant Drive – Release and the poster below.


Second, we came across this video from Big G Express and shall we say… an ESOP Truck Dynasty!

Stay tuned for more Employee Ownership Month celebration coverage tomorrow.

Changes to the 2014 AACE Program

AACE Awards 6We’re going to take a quick break from Employee Ownership Month programming to announce a few changes to the AACE Awards program for 2014. Since many of the celebrations taking place this month are also included in AACE entries, we wanted to share this information with members.

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

New Deadline

The new deadline will be February 14th (Valentines Day) for all materials.

Presentation Videos

All presentation videos should be put on YouTube, with a link provided via email to PatBarnesArt AT 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 to PatBarnesArt AT 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, to PatBarnesArt AT 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).

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.

Congressional Visits

Five days and counting to…Employee Ownership Month! If you’re looking for a way to celebrate, why not invite your member of Congress to visit your company? If you need some starter ideas, check out the Advocacy Kits on the Association’s website.

Following are a few Congressional visit wrap-ups members shared with the Association. If you have news to share, please send an email to We’re always interested in hearing from members.

Senator Ayotte Visits Hypertherm

On September 5th, Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) visited ESOP Association member, Hypertherm, at the company’s newest facility in Lebanon, NH. The Senator, who met with Hypertherm employee owners on a previous occasion, stated that she would like visit again.

According to an email from Hypertherm employee owner, Carey Chen, CFO & VP/GM Light Industrial Businesses, “After introductions, the first thing she wanted to do was discuss ESOPs. She discussed the bill she introduced and the bipartisan support she has been able to get. We thanked her for the pro-ESOP legislation she championed and expressed how proud we are that she represents our home state.”

Other topics discussed with the Senator included: workforce development, health care reform, intellectual property protection, and last, but not least, tax reform.

After a tour of Hypertherm’s new 156,000 sq. ft. facility, a picture was taken in the cafeteria.

To explain the sign in the background: Hypertherm’s ESOP is the HSOP (Hypertherm Stock Ownership Plan). The GSVP is the company’s global stock value plan for our international associates. The slogan which is partially cut off reads, “Work Like an Owner, Think Like a Customer.” The “H” in the center is the Hypertherm logo.

The photo below (left to right): Jenny Levy, Senator Ayotte, Carey Chen, Evan Smith, and Gordon Rice.

Ayotte Hypertherm

Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II visits Citizens Telephone Company/Citizens Cablevision

Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II toured the office of Citizens Telephone Company/Citizens Cablevision on September 4, 2103. In 2013, Citizens Telephone is celebrating its 105th year in continuous operation. The company is also celebrating its 25th anniversary as an employee-owned company. Congressman Cleaver toured the company’s facilities and met several employee owners during his visit.

In the picture below (front row, left to right): Shannon Goetz, Cindy Soendker, Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II, Brian Cornelius, Pam Gillilan. Back row, left to right: Terry Wells, Jeremy Ratliff, John Wade, Buddy Griffith, Steve Harms, and Paul Trent.

Cleaver Citizens Telephone

WASP, Inc. Employee Owners Visit Senator Fischer

While in Washington, DC for the Annual Conference in May, employee owners of WASP, Inc., located in Glenwood, MN, met with Senator Deb Fischer from Nebraska. Pictured below (left to right): Ruben Koopman, WASP, Inc.; Senator Deb Fischer; Sandy (spouse of) and Dane Anderson, WASP, Inc.; Jeanne Kramer, WASP, Inc.

Fischer WASP

Congressman Cicilline Meets with Employee Owners of Gripnail

In early August, Congressman Cicilline (photo below) met with the employee owners of Gripnail, located in East Providence, RI. Employee owner, Chris Ryding, COO, said the meeting was a success. Information about the ESOP and what it has brought to the company was shared with the Congressman and he was asked for his support of pro-ESOP legislation.

Cicilline Gripnail

Pennsylvania ESOP Companies Gather to Discuss Employee Ownership

Since the official start of Employee Ownership Month is just a few days away, we thought we’d highlight a company event that can be used during October to celebrate employee ownership at your company. Why not reach out to your ESOP company neighbors and share some ideas in October!

On August 15th, three Pennsylvania ESOP companies met to share information about the ESOP structure and ideas for building an employee ownership culture. Participating companies and ESOP Association members:

C.S. Davidson, York, PA (C.S. Davidson hosted the event)

Flinchbaugh Engineering, York, PA

Restek Corporation, Bellefonte, PA

According to Mike Shuey, an employee owner of Restek Corporation, “It was an excellent session and proved to be very valuable for all attendees.”

CS Davidson York PA