Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs)

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...


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...

MacFarland Foods

Founded in Indianapolis in 1948 selling just chicken, eggs and butter, MacFarland Foods has expanded into a full-line distributor selling over 5,000 products.  In 2009, the company became 100 percent employee-owned, making it Indiana's largest 100 percent employee-owned food distributor.  Its Indianapolis facility has over 195 employee-owners who serve cities across Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky. Read more about MacFarland Foods...

Katz, Sapper & Miller (KSM)

Founded in 1942 with just two employees, Katz, Sapper & Miller (KSM) became an employee-owned accounting, tax and consulting company in 2000.  Headquartered in Indianapolis with satellite offices in Fort Wayne, Indiana and New York, the firm’s nearly 300 employees serve a wide range of specialized industries, including start-up companies and not-for-profit organizations.  KSM also provides business, tax, accounting and valuation services to other employee-owned companies, and supports businesses considering implementing ESOPs from the initial feasibility study phase through the conversion process.

A Fair Share: Worker Cooperatives and the Growth of Shared Capitalism

A growing number of business owners are making the decision to turn over ownership to their employees.

This past summer, in a sea-side town in Maine, the state’s largest worker cooperative was created. As a retirement gift, small business owners Vernon and Sandra Seile turned over ownership of their retail businesses to their 40 employees. Ashley Weed, a dutiful worker of the Seiles for 11 years, stated, “I am happy they actually sold it to us, so we don’t have to start at the bottom again.” Read more about A Fair Share: Worker Cooperatives and the Growth of Shared Capitalism...

What is Community Wealth Building and Why is it so Important?

CWB builds on local talents, capacities and institutions, rebuilding capital to strengthen and create locally-owned family and community owned businesses.

Crossposted from Veris Wealth Partners

More than a decade ago, my colleagues and I at The Democracy Collaborative began using a term for a new kind of economic development – Community Wealth Building. For years, the term was so uncommon that it almost invariably appeared within quotation marks when used.

Today, a Google search identifies 124,000 entries and is growing daily.


Founded in 1950, Hatco focuses on designing, producing, selling, and servicing equipment for the foodservice industry that can improve efficiency, reliability and profits. In 2007, the 340-person company became 100 percent worker-owned. One particularly unique employee benefit is its free health clinic, which it built within its factory in 2012 to provide easily accessible services to all employees and their families. Read more about Hatco...


With nearly 3,000 employees working from its headquarters in Milwaukee or its 100 other offices across the United States, Europe and Asia, Baird ranks as one of the nation’s largest employee-owned companies. Founded in 1919, the financial services company provides investment banking, private equity, and equity research services to institutions and corporations around the world. It also supports a foundation, which made more than $3 million in grants in 2013 to nonprofits working in its four focus areas: education, health and human services, the arts, and diversity. Read more about Baird...

Is Worker Ownership a Way Forward for Market Basket?

Gar Alperovitz

The Market Basket situation is indeed, as many commentators have remarked, nearly unprecedented in the annals of American labor relations: When have we ever seen so many workers protest so vigorously for, rather than against, their boss! (For those new to the story, the New England supermarket chain has been wracked by massive employee protests, organized without any union involvement, after a faction of the family that owns the chain took control and ousted extremely popular CEO Arthur T. Demoulas. The mobilization in support of the former chief executive has resulted in nearly empty shelves and the mobilization of angry communities of formerly happy customers.)

But beneath the surface of the singular job action, in which workers and community have banded together to demand the reinstatement of the former CEO, the conflict in New England points toward something much more fundamental: the need to build institutions that can sustain the kind of community- and worker-friendly business leadership that earned "good brother" Arthur T. such incredible loyalty.

Happily, such institutions already exist, here in the United States. While undoubtedly not perfect as a form of workplace democracy, the Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) offers a proven template for making the interest workers have in a thriving business part of the discussions about a company's future.


Founded in 1909, Xtek is an international company headquartered in Cincinnati that manufactures custom machined and heat-treated parts and component assemblies for heavy-duty industrial applications. It became 100 percent employee-owned in 2000 and now has about 460 employee-owners. Read more about Xtek...


Established in 1932 and converted to a 100 percent employee-owned company in the 1990s, Messer is a construction firm that employs nearly 750 builders working on commercial construction projects totaling more than $792 million in Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, and Tennessee. Demonstrating its commitment to the community, its Cincinnati office has contributed more than $3.7 million to local nonprofits since 2006 and works to include minority- and women-owned businesses in all of its projects. Read more about Messer...

Cities at Work: Progressive Local Policies to Rebuild the Middle Class

Joel Rogers and Satya Rhodes-Conway

In a new report from the Center for American Progress, Joel Rogers and Satya Rhodes-Conway of the Center on Wisconsin Strategy (COWS) outline policies that cities can adopt to become more inclusive and sustainable. The authors espouse democratic organization as a critical component to social equity and wealth creation and highlight the critical linking of anchor procurement strategies and employee ownership, as seen in the Cleveland Model, to strengthen local economies and stabilize communities.

Ruffin & Payne

Ruffin & Payne is a lumber, millwork, and building supply operation that specializes in serving the home building and remodeling community. It is the only local company that maintains a full service lumber yard, custom millwork shop, pre hung door department, roof truss plant, and stairway manufacturing at one location. Since it began offering an ESOP in 1982, it has enrolled 59 of its employees in the plan.

MeadWestvaco Corporation

Fortune 500 company MeadWestvaco Corporation, also known as MWV, offers packaging services to the world’s largest brands. Over 15 percent of its global workforce is enrolled in the employee stock ownership plan. In 2010, MWV moved its Center for Packing Innovation and its pilot research and development facility to Richmond, creating an additional 114 new jobs.

Liphart Steel Company, Inc

Founded in 1938, Liphart Steel Company employs over 60 people and its annual revenue exceeds $10 million. Since it began offering an ESOP in 1975, it has enrolled over eighty of its employees in the plan.

InSource Solutions

Headquartered in Richmond, VA, InSource Solutions provides industrial hardware and software consulting services for manufacturing companies throughout the southeast and Mid-Atlantic. Six years after its founding in 1997, InSource established an ESOP. The company now employs 62 people, all of which are enrolled in the ESOP.


Founded in 1901, Wiley|Wilson offers architectural, engineering, and planning services for industrial, commercial, and governmental clients across the Mid-Atlantic. Since becoming an ESOP in 2000, it is now 100 percent employee-owned. Last year, the firm was ranked 83 on Architectural Record’s annual Top 300 Architecture Firms list. For its outstanding efforts to educate and inform employee owners about ownership principles, it won the ESOP Association’s 2013 Intranet Award for Communications Excellence.