September 20, 2019

A Record-Setting Fall Forum

More than 500 people gathered in Salt Lake City for the NCEO's Fall ESOP Forum last week, an increase of more than 45% over last year. The NCEO staff who were there thoroughly enjoyed meeting all the attendees, and we were thrilled by people's energy, enthusiasm, and eagerness to share ideas.

Attendees came with questions about how to best set up an ESOP, from the annual administration timeline to setting up a communications committee. With four sessions in each time slot, speakers also dug deeper into long-term issues for companies at different stages of ESOP development, such as recruiting outside directors, high-involvement strategic planning, sustainability, and C-to-S conversions. Two preconference sessions let people spend a focused half-day on sustainability or communications.

The conversations did not shy away from some of the deeper questions around employee ownership. If ESOPs are retirement plans, what makes them matter to people who are not yet thinking of retirement? If companies are caught in the distrust-disbelieve cycle, how do they break out? How can companies thrive after the departure of a visionary founder? 

And sessions also covered recent developments in the field, from the current status of the implementation of the Main Street Employee Ownership Act and loans backed by the Small Business Administration to the Department of Labor's program of investigating ESOPs.

During a show of hands on the first day, I was delighted to see that so many attendees were at their first ESOP conference, including several from companies that are not yet employee-owned. I want to personally thank those people who have been to multiple conferences for being so warm and welcoming to the newcomers. No one who was there can doubt that the employee ownership community really is a community.

Thank you to the Fall Forum's premier sponsors: Emplify; Dorsey & Whitney LLP; Prairie Capital Advisors, Inc.; GreatBanc Trust Company; and Vision Point Capital, Inc.

Thanks also to major sponsors Menke & Associates, Inc.; TI Trust, Inc.; ESOPMarketplace.com; ButcherJoseph; and all of our other sponsors. See the sponsorship page.