Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs)

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...


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...


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...