October 3, 2022

The 2022 Fall ESOP Forum: Thank You!

Executive Director

The NCEO's Fall ESOP Forum was held in St. Louis last week, and we offer a huge thank-you to the people who joined us there and showed so much enthusiasm for making employee ownership thrive. It's always our fondest hope here at the NCEO that participants leave every NCEO event not simply with a new piece of information or a bunch of notes on corporate governance but instead with the ability and readiness to do something when you get home that you couldn't do before.

It sometimes feels as if people outside our community see employee ownership as just a bit odd. When you mention that your company is owned by its employees, maybe you see a raised eyebrow, or maybe you get a slightly perplexed-sounding question about how it can possibly work.

At the Fall Forum, you don’t get those bewildered questions; instead, you're with people wrestling with the same issues as you are: How should we manage repurchase obligations or build a highly effective board? Should we open our books? Who should be the trustee? Can employee ownership help improve retention? Or recruiting? Where do I start?

We talked about all those issues and much more. The scope of what’s involved in employee ownership is huge—legal, financial, political, management, operations, problem-solving, projecting the future. No one can be on top of all these issues without the support of the employee ownership community, and the NCEO is honored to be the place the community gathers.

For me, one highlight was the keynote presentation by Jack Stack, the CEO of SRC Holdings and the author of The Great Game of Business. One nugget I took from Jack's conversation with the NCEO's Timothy Garbinsky is that human resources is an underdeveloped tool for most companies—if your HR department spends more time on compliance than in strategic discussions, then you may be missing a key lever for harnessing the power of employee ownership.

Another highlight was the release of the new book by Corey Rosen and John Case, Ownership: Reinventing Companies, Capitalism, and Who Owns What.

I deeply appreciate the many people I was able to have conversations with. I always leave conversations with my thoughts stretched and enthusiasm rekindled.

The Forum isn't just about employee-owned companies; the community includes our service providers and sponsors who provide solutions for companies and help make employee ownership—and events like this one—possible, and we thank those who participated in the Forum.

Finally, my appreciation to my incredible colleagues is boundless. The Fall Forum and the NCEO succeed because of the talent, hard work, and joy of everyone on staff, but in this case, Jaymie Oviedo, Megan Bonwell, and Charlene Thomas, our amazing event team onsite in St. Louis, are the heroes.

Join us in April 2023 for the annual conference in Kansas City (April 25 to 27).