Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs)

Vespoli USA

With no heirs and retirement on the horizon, Michael Vespoli, the World Rowing Champion who founded Vespoli USA in 1980, converted the company to an ESOP to ensure his employees—not a larger suburban or foreign company—would direct the enterprise’s future.  With 42 employee-owners and operating out of a custom-built factory in New Haven, Vespoli sells and repairs racing boats used for regattas worldwide.

Powerful, under-used tool for reducing income-inequality: broad-based ownership

Marjorie Kelly
The Hill

In this article for The Hill, Democracy Collaborative Executive Vice President and Senior Fellow Marjorie Kelly describes the growing movement toward broad-based ownership and how communities are coming together to take control of their local economies. Kelly highlights some of the innovative strategies used by communities on the ground, such as the cooperative ownership business conversion, which is poised to achieve expanded scale in the near future:

TDIndustries

Started in 1946 in an automotive store in downtown Dallas, TDIndustries is a construction and facility services company that now works across Texas and surrounding states.  With its headquarters in Dallas, the 100 percent employee-owned company had revenues of $433 million and 2,030 employees as of 2015.  Committed to its employee-owners, TDIndustries has been recognized by Fortune Magazine for the past 18 years as one of the “100 Best Companies to Work For.” Read more about TDIndustries...

Sammons Enterprises

Established in 1962, Sammons Enterprises is a 100 percent employee-owned diversified holding company with financial services, industrial equipment, real estate, and infrastructure businesses.  Based in Dallas since its inception, Sammons Enterprises now has 4,000 employees across five countries, over $73 billion in assets, and more than $5.2 billion in annual revenues.  With a strong commitment to the Dallas community, Sammons Enterprises’ founder, Charles Sammons, established the Sammons Dallas Foundation in 1970.  In 2009, the foundation made a historic $100 million gift to six Dallas nonprofits.  The foundation continues to support community organizations, providing $8 million in charitable contributions in 2015.

Austin Industries

Based in Dallas, Austin Industries is one of the largest construction companies in the U.S., with more than 7,000 employee-owners and an annual volume of $2 billion.  Founded in 1918, the company became 60 percent employee-owned in 1986 and 100 percent in 2000.   It provides civil, commercial and industrial construction services, and places an emphasis on sustainability, working to protect and preserve the environment while projects are under construction, and developing sustainable, healthy environments. Read more about Austin Industries...

Temperature Systems

Established in 1947, Temperature Systems is one of the largest HVAC/R distribution companies in Wisconsin.  With distribution centers in both Madison and Green Bay, the 100 percent employee-owned company has over 100 employees. Read more about Temperature Systems...

Daniels Construction

Founded in 1953, Daniels Construction provides residential, business, and maintenance construction services across Southern Wisconsin.  Recognizing that broad-based worker ownership encourages productivity and better quality control, the Madison-based company became employee-owned in 2006. Read more about Daniels Construction...

Yoder Industries, Inc.

Established in 1956, Yoder Industries is a full-service die casting company with two facilities in Dayton.  In 2012, after three generations of family ownership, it transitioned to a 100 percent employee-owned company.  Yoder Industries has about 90 employees and annual sales of over $30 million.

PC Construction Company

Based in South Burlington, PC Construction Company provides general contracting, construction management, and design-build services.  Founded in 1958 as a small family business, the company now has 1,000 employees, locations in Vermont, Florida, Georgia, Maine, New York and North Carolina, and an annual volume of projects in excess of $500 million. PC Construction has been 100 percent employee-owned since 2009. Read more about PC Construction Company...

Hallam-ICS

Headquartered in South Burlington, Hallam-ICS is an engineering firm with expertise in facilities design, HVAC, process controls, and software solutions.  Founded in 1981, the firm now has 85 employees and locations in Vermont, Massachusetts, New York, and North Carolina.  Hallam-ICS is currently 47 percent employee-owned.

Gardener’s Supply Company

Founded in 1984 by a small group of Vermont gardeners, Gardener’s Supply Company has grown into a gardening business serving millions of customers nationwide via its own manufacturing facility, where it makes many of its products.  In 2009, Gardener’s Supply became 100 percent employee owned, and in 2014 became a certified B Corporation to highlight its commitment to social and environmental responsibility, transparency, and accountability.  With a mission to use gardening to build community and make the world a better place, Gardener’s Supply donates 8 percent of its pre-tax profits to programs and organizations that use gardening to improve people's lives and the health of our environment.  The business also founded and supports the Intervale Center and Company Farm, a plot besides its headquarters where it grows hundreds of pounds of potatoes to donate to people in need.

Broad-Based Ownership Models as Tools for Job Creation and Community Development

Marjorie Kelly, Steve Dubb and Violeta Duncan

As cities wrestle with the growing challenge of wealth inequality, more and more leaders are looking to broad-based ownership models as tools to create jobs and build community wealth. These models are highly effective, with a positive impact for low- and moderate-income individuals and communities. This report looks at six such models—ESOPs, Worker Cooperatives, CDFIs, Social Enterprises, Municipal Ownership, and Emerging Hybrids—with examples of best practices, and explores how these models can be used in community economic development.

Zephyr Environmental Corporation

Based in Austin, Zephyr Environmental Corporation is a full-service environmental, health and safety firm offering consulting, training, and data systems services.  In 2010, Zephyr became an ESOP company.  With 5 employees when the company started in 1994, it now has 80 employee owners in four cities and is credited with performing over 5,100 projects for hundred of clients.

Lewis Tree Service

Lewis Tree Service provides vegetation management services to utilities and governments, including electric cooperatives.  In 2000, it became an 100 percent employee-owned company.  Founded in 1938 as Monroe Tree Surgeons, a residential tree and landscaping company, Lewis Tree Service has grown to include 2,400 employees and has won The National ESOP Association’s annual awards including National ESOP Company of the Year in 2005. Read more about Lewis Tree Service...

Butler/Till

Founded in 1998 by two women, Butler/Till has grown into an 85-person media and communications agency.  In 2011, Butler/Till became an 100 percent employee-owned company.  Committed to lifelong learning, the ESOP company has created Butler/Till University, an in-house media training program designed to help staff be more insightful, strategic, and productive. Read more about Butler/Till...