Models and Best Practices: Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs)

Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs)

Acadian Ambulance Services

Founded in 1971 by veterans from the Vietnam War, Acadian became a 30% ESOP-owned company in 1993 and a majority employee-owned company after 1998. Today, the company has over 200 ambulances, 2,000 employees, and a $180 million budget and is the nation's largest privately held paramedic firm. Awarded a “gold standard” award for patient care at a national conference of emergency medical personnel in August 2005, the company would be tested shortly afterward, as Hurricane Katrina forced the evacuation of New Orleans' flooded hospitals. Read more about Acadian Ambulance Services...

Appleton

Appleton is the world's largest producer of carbonless paper. Once a division of National Cash Register (NCR), in 2001 employees invested $107 million from their pension monies to finance an $810 million buy-out, one of the largest employee buy-outs ever. Today, the 100% employee-owned company employs 3,400 people, including 1,400 in the Appleton area. Read more about Appleton...

Carris Reels

Carris Reels began as a family-owned business in 1951. It produces a wide variety of reels and packaging for the cable and wire industry. The company has grown to have 750 employees in 7 manufacturing and 10 assembly sites across the country. Employees now own over 40% of the company through their ESOP. Read more about Carris Reels...

Chroma Technology Corp.

Founded in 1991, Chroma is an employee-owned company whose primary product is filters that are used in microscopes. Technically, Chroma is not an ESOP, but it is nonetheless 100 percent employee owned, with each individual's ownership stake varying according to seniority. In its first year, Chroma employed 7 and had sales of $300,000. A decade later, the number of employee-owners had risen to 54 and sales exceeded $12 million. Read more about Chroma Technology Corp....

Elkhorn Construction

Founded in 1984, Elkhorn Construction is a 100% employee-owned General Contractor specializing in the construction and maintenance of oil, natural gas, petrochemical and pipeline facilities as well as fossil fuel power/steam plants and mining operations, with a core workforce of more than 100 employees. Elkhorn also provides construction services for public works projects in the civil, mechanical, and electrical fields. Each of the three employees who retired in 2003 had accumulated personal ESOP account shares worth greater than $200,000. Read more about Elkhorn Construction...

King Arthur Flour

Started in Boston in 1790 and now based in Norwich, Vermont, America's oldest flour company has grown from a family-owned, mail-order business with five employees in 1990 to a 100 percent employee-owned (ESOP) business with over 180 employees and $45 million in annual sales. In January 2008, King Arthur Flour became a B-corporation (indicating a commitment to public benefit as well as profit). It was also among the 25 companies listed in WorldBlu's 2007 list of most democratic workplaces. Read more about King Arthur Flour...

March Westin

Founded in 1984, March Westin functions as a full-service engineering, general contracting, and design-build firm which handles projects ranging from a few thousand dollars to more than $45 million. Conversion to an ESOP began in 1993. Currently, 81 employees own 36% of the company, with the company having set a goal of majority employee ownership by the end of the decade. Read more about March Westin...

Publix

Publix, a Lakeland, Florida-based supermarket with branches throughout the southeastern United States, has made its employees part owners of the company since the 1930s. Today, it is the largest employee-owned supermarket chain in the country, with over 128,000 employees and annual sales of $16.5 billion. Read more about Publix...

W. L. Gore

Founded in 1958, the company, maker of GoreTex products, has expanded to have over 6,000 employees. The company's web site focuses on its egalitarian employment culture, not its ownership structure. But W.L. Gore employees own approximately 90% of the company through their ESOP. Read more about W. L. Gore...

Zachary's Chicago Pizza

The 115-employee Zachary's Chicago Pizza restaurant provides an example of how the ESOP form can allow family business owners to transfer ownership over time to their employees as they retire. In Zachary's case, conversion to ESOP ownership began in 2003 and has now accomplished 100% employee ownership. In a fall 2004 interview with the Berkeley-based Daily Californian newspaper, the restaurant’s co-founder, Zach Zachowski, explained the rationale for creating the ESOP: “If we sold the business to a corporation, the culture will change and so will the food and the staff.” Read more about Zachary's Chicago Pizza...

Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs)

Acadian Ambulance Services

Founded in 1971 by veterans from the Vietnam War, Acadian became a 30% ESOP-owned company in 1993 and a majority employee-owned company after 1998. Today, the company has over 200 ambulances, 2,000 employees, and a $180 million budget and is the nation's largest privately held paramedic firm. Awarded a “gold standard” award for patient care at a national conference of emergency medical personnel in August 2005, the company would be tested shortly afterward, as Hurricane Katrina forced the evacuation of New Orleans' flooded hospitals. Read more about Acadian Ambulance Services...

Appleton

Appleton is the world's largest producer of carbonless paper. Once a division of National Cash Register (NCR), in 2001 employees invested $107 million from their pension monies to finance an $810 million buy-out, one of the largest employee buy-outs ever. Today, the 100% employee-owned company employs 3,400 people, including 1,400 in the Appleton area. Read more about Appleton...

Carris Reels

Carris Reels began as a family-owned business in 1951. It produces a wide variety of reels and packaging for the cable and wire industry. The company has grown to have 750 employees in 7 manufacturing and 10 assembly sites across the country. Employees now own over 40% of the company through their ESOP. Read more about Carris Reels...

Chroma Technology Corp.

Founded in 1991, Chroma is an employee-owned company whose primary product is filters that are used in microscopes. Technically, Chroma is not an ESOP, but it is nonetheless 100 percent employee owned, with each individual's ownership stake varying according to seniority. In its first year, Chroma employed 7 and had sales of $300,000. A decade later, the number of employee-owners had risen to 54 and sales exceeded $12 million. Read more about Chroma Technology Corp....

Elkhorn Construction

Founded in 1984, Elkhorn Construction is a 100% employee-owned General Contractor specializing in the construction and maintenance of oil, natural gas, petrochemical and pipeline facilities as well as fossil fuel power/steam plants and mining operations, with a core workforce of more than 100 employees. Elkhorn also provides construction services for public works projects in the civil, mechanical, and electrical fields. Each of the three employees who retired in 2003 had accumulated personal ESOP account shares worth greater than $200,000. Read more about Elkhorn Construction...

King Arthur Flour

Started in Boston in 1790 and now based in Norwich, Vermont, America's oldest flour company has grown from a family-owned, mail-order business with five employees in 1990 to a 100 percent employee-owned (ESOP) business with over 180 employees and $45 million in annual sales. In January 2008, King Arthur Flour became a B-corporation (indicating a commitment to public benefit as well as profit). It was also among the 25 companies listed in WorldBlu's 2007 list of most democratic workplaces. Read more about King Arthur Flour...

March Westin

Founded in 1984, March Westin functions as a full-service engineering, general contracting, and design-build firm which handles projects ranging from a few thousand dollars to more than $45 million. Conversion to an ESOP began in 1993. Currently, 81 employees own 36% of the company, with the company having set a goal of majority employee ownership by the end of the decade. Read more about March Westin...

Publix

Publix, a Lakeland, Florida-based supermarket with branches throughout the southeastern United States, has made its employees part owners of the company since the 1930s. Today, it is the largest employee-owned supermarket chain in the country, with over 128,000 employees and annual sales of $16.5 billion. Read more about Publix...

W. L. Gore

Founded in 1958, the company, maker of GoreTex products, has expanded to have over 6,000 employees. The company's web site focuses on its egalitarian employment culture, not its ownership structure. But W.L. Gore employees own approximately 90% of the company through their ESOP. Read more about W. L. Gore...

Zachary's Chicago Pizza

The 115-employee Zachary's Chicago Pizza restaurant provides an example of how the ESOP form can allow family business owners to transfer ownership over time to their employees as they retire. In Zachary's case, conversion to ESOP ownership began in 2003 and has now accomplished 100% employee ownership. In a fall 2004 interview with the Berkeley-based Daily Californian newspaper, the restaurant’s co-founder, Zach Zachowski, explained the rationale for creating the ESOP: “If we sold the business to a corporation, the culture will change and so will the food and the staff.” Read more about Zachary's Chicago Pizza...